Floating with Family

PROVO, Utah – Dec 08, 2022 – At this year’s new student orientation, the incoming marketing students at the BYU Marriott School of Business didn’t sit through a lecture or leaf through informational packets. Rather, the students experienced the tight-knit culture of BYU Marriott’s marketing program by embarking on their first “family” trip.  

Before fall semester, the students gathered for the two-part event: first, to hear logistical information at BYU about the program, and second, to take a rafting trip down the Provo River. Faculty members and the Marketing Association started the event by delivering introductory messages. The students who run this organization, all seasoned marketing majors, aim to ease their nerves through the orientation.

“There’s a distinct feeling of stress that comes with starting the program,” says Marketing Association president Matt Peck, who is a marketing senior from Massachusetts. “As a new student, you have some resources, and you want to do something big, but you don’t exactly know what you want to do or how to do that. We wanted to show incoming students that there are a million ways to pursue the opportunities they crave. We helped them gain needed clarity about the program and their future career paths.”

To do this, faculty and the Marketing Association officers introduced the incoming juniors to the organization’s three-part vision for the program: cultivate family, find passion, and navigate a career.

“Creating a family culture is critical,” says Mike Neuffer, marketing career director and advisor for the Marketing Association. “The whole idea of our new student orientation was to help the students feel like they’re a family.”

Neuffer explains that bonding in the marketing program not only serves as an incredible networking tool but also as a means to foster Christlike interactions. “Instead of intense competition for jobs,” he says, “we want these students to be happy for their classmates—even when their peers land opportunities they might have wanted themselves.”

After the speakers finished, the students were given an opportunity to put these ideas into practice. To create strong bonds, the group—both students and faculty—took buses up the Provo canyon and rafted down the Provo River together. "We had the faculty on the boats too, so the students could get to know them on a more personal basis,” says Neuffer. “Our faculty are fully invested in the success of the students."

In addition to paddling alongside their professors, students got to know each other. Building strong relationships as the program begins is especially important in the marketing program, explains Peck. “On the second day of class, every student needs to find a group of four to work with on semester-long projects in all three core classes,” he says.  

Neuffer agrees that helping students forge friendships is one of the main reasons for the orientation. “Often, the friends that students make at this event become their teammates for class projects,” he says.  

Overall, Peck concludes that students successfully built connections with each other. “When the students first showed up, they were a little stiff and almost no one knew each other,” he says. “After rafting, everyone was more social and comfortable. Seeing this change was my favorite part of the orientation.” Additionally, Peck quips, handing out water guns led to more fun interactions between students on the rafting trip.  

Neuffer knows that the bonds his marketing students create while at BYU Marriott can last a lifetime. “Right now, the students might not realize how valuable the connections they make in the program truly are,” he says. “But the students will carry these relationships throughout their lives.” Certainly, for BYU Marriott’s newest marketing juniors, new student orientation was the first of many family adventures.

rafting on water
New marketing students raft down the Provo River together. Photo courtesy of BYU Marketing Association communications team.
students posing
Students pose in front of a raft. Photo courtesy of BYU Marketing Association communications team.
Mike Neuffer, marketing career director at BYU Marriott, prepares to raft with his new students. Photo courtesy of BYU Marketing Association communications team.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Jaden McQuivey