One thing I love about Wharton classes is that students are encouraged to take steps into the real world. Right now my favorite class is Consumer Behavior (Marketing 211) with Professor Americus Reed.

Each semester, Professor Reed seeks out a well-known brand with a marketing issue that his class can tackle. For our class, the challenge is to provide real-world marketing recommendations for the executives at Microsoft regarding their Windows Phone. The benefit comes to both parties. While Microsoft is able to tap into a different set of minds and gain insights from Wharton students, we are able to gain hands-on experience by hosting focus groups, researching competitors, learning how to analyze our data and pushing ourselves to think outside the box. We are encouraged to develop consumer segments, customer profiles and to understand the consumers from psychographic perspectives, among other things.

While we have lectures like other classes, we are able to frame what we learn within a real example and instantly relate the content to how we can improve our project.

At the end of the semester our teams will present to the marketing heads of Windows Phones with the hope that our idea will be selected and potentially implemented as an official campaign.

Professor Reed’s Consumer Behavior class, though unique, speaks loudly to the type of learning Wharton encourages. It is unbelievable that as undergraduate students we have access to such powerful and inspiring companies and executives. We regularly have opportunities to listen to and interact with executives from Campbell’s, Nike, American Express, Wal-Mart and more.

(Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on March 12, 2012.)