Mandy Prepares for College

Mandy swung her backpack onto the carpet with a sigh. She flopped down on her bed, smiling. She did it. She had finally finished her last day of high school. There had been laughter, tears, and the rest of the emotions that come with the occasion. She was a straight A student and had loved high school.

As she reflected on the day, her mind began to wander to her fall plans. She had gotten accepted into several schools but still hadn’t made up her mind where she wanted to go. Her parents had always placed a high importance on getting a quality education, but she had recently found out that they had not able to set aside any savings for her higher education. Her older brother, who was her idol and bestfriend, had been given a scholarship to play baseball at Winona State University in Minnesota. She had visited him a few times in the two years he had been there, despite it being over 2 hours from her hometown. She had loved the campus, and the idea of going to school with her brother was very exciting to her. The only downfall with going to Winona State was that to pursue her dream of being a teacher, or even better, a professor someday, she would have to attend masters school elsewhere and she didn’t know how well her credits and accolades would transfer. Also, graduate school is very expensive!

She had talked to her parents to see if they had any helpful advice, they usually did and she respected their advice very much. Unfortunately for her, they wanted this to be her decision so that she could feel confident and happy in where she went to school. As they put it “you’re an adult now and choosing a college is a very important adult decision. We will miss you but as you know, were just a call or text away.”

In the following days, Mandy did a lot of thinking and research on what schools were in the area that offered teaching programs. In her research she stumbled across an article from 2018 from Western Technical College in La Crosse, WI. The article read:

Officials at Western Technical College and Viterbo University have formally announced a new transfer agreement for students in the Foundations of Teacher Education program this fall.

Students enrolled full time can complete the Foundations of Teacher Education associate’s degree program at Western in four academic terms. Following successful completion of the 67 credits, students can transfer into Viterbo’s Elementary/Middle Childhood Education major, along with a minor in Special Education.  

“Nearly half of last year’s graduating class is in the process or has already been accepted into Viterbo’s program for the fall,” said Western instructor Shelly Bauer. “This is a great opportunity for students and local school districts to meet the growing need for teachers.”

“In keeping with our deep commitment to education and the community, Viterbo is ever-focused on expanding the pipeline of highly prepared and energized new teachers,” said Sara Cook, dean of the College of Education, Engineering, Letters and Sciences at Viterbo University. “We are happy to add this seamless pathway through our strong, collaborative partnership with Western.””

Mandy was ecstatic! La Crosse was a short 30 minute drive away from Winona, located on the beautiful Mississippi River and home to not only Western Tech and Viterbo, but also UW-La Crosse. 3 schools in one town! As she dug deeper in her research she found out that Western not only had a beautiful campus, but was also the most affordable school in the entire state! This seemed like a no brainer. She looked at admissions requirements and knew immediately that she would be accepted with no issues and she could begin her education towards her dream of teaching. She called her brother, and he had nothing but good things to say about the area, she ran to the kitchen and told her parents about the opportunity, and they were overjoyed for her. She filled out an online application that same afternoon.


This blog post in an example of a buyer persona journey. This is a common tactic used by marketers to personify their customers in order to better understand them and their needs. Instead of a chart showing the target audiences information, pain points and needs, a buyer persona story engages the reader and helps them to understand exactly how to target this audience.

An Example of a social media advertisement that could recruit students like Mandy.

Retail Management Reflection and Simulation Exercise

Recently I completed the VP Knowledge Matters Retail Simulation. I wrote a few months ago about completing the practice version (read here) which I passed quickly and easily. I thought through everything that I have learned over the semester that I would be fully prepared to ace the final simulation. I was not.

The concept of the simulation is to own and operate a grocery store with the objective of having a $17,500 weekly profit. Fairly straightforward. You begin by choosing one of the ten available grocery stores, which are several sizes with a diverse mix of customers and surrounding areas. Each store has a different weekly rent based on square footage, location and interest. For my sim, I chose a midsized store in the middle of the city, because it was relatively low cost and the surrounding area had a high population density.

Once you choose a store, you have to staff and stock it. Due to size limitations, I put in 2 checkouts and had store hours between 7am and 11pm. The store is opened based off of when you have cashiers working. I had 1 work through the morning and early afternoon, with 2 cashiers in the evenings. The sim allows you to poll consumers, so I found out what items customers buy regularly and based my store layout off of that. I tried to place impulse items near the checkouts. I set my base profit margin at 35% and adjusted individual products based off of customer comments and feedback.

Once the store is operating, there are several promotion options. There are billboards, radio ads, newspaper ads and email promotions. For my sim, I focused on billboards to try to bring in customers from around the area that may otherwise go elsewhere. Billboards are expensive, but I rarely saw a drop in weekly profits when adding a new billboard because of the additional customers they bring in.

I tweaked things based on customer comments and feedback and ultimately after 5 simulation years, I was still unable to meet the $17,500 weekly profit goal and threw in the towel. My best week was over $13,000 in profit but I was unable to duplicate that success or capitalize on it further.

In the days following taking the simulation, I went back and tried again based on what I had learned the first time. I was still unable to hit the weekly goal. If I had another shot at it, I would have done more initial planning to set my store up for success. My biggest downfall was adjusting things too quickly on the fly without analyzing the effectiveness of different approaches and marketing tactics. Thankfully, it was just a simulation and I don’t have to actually run a grocery store.

The simulation was challenging, stimulating and fun. I would recommend anybody who wants to someday manage or own a retail business to try it. I believe it was a beneficial exercise for me and caused me to think a lot on the complexity of what goes on behind the scenes at stores we visit daily or weekly.