With Comcast ‘embedded’ in a freshman management course, business concepts come to life, and students connect with alumni in top company posts.
From the 43rd floor observation deck of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia, the views are nothing short of spectacular.
It’s where building tops meet clouds, and on a clear day, one can see for miles in nearly every direction.
And on a recent afternoon, 32 Widener freshmen had the chance to not only snag selfies with this amazing backdrop, but to get a look inside the company they’ve been studying all semester, and to meet with alumni who have found success there.
The visit to Comcast’s headquarters – located just 14 miles from campus – is part of Dr. Donna McCloskey’s Management 100 course, which has “embedded” the telecommunications and entertainment corporation into the curriculum.
Designed to introduce first-year students to business fundamentals, the course is using Comcast as a real-world, case study. When the class discusses human resources, marketing, or operations, for instance, it’s within the context of Comcast.
“With every topic, Comcast is the common thread,” said McCloskey. “It’s more applied. It’s real.”
Comcast executives, including some alumni, visit campus every other week to speak to the students about their roles, the evolution of their careers, and to share advice.
Having a real company as part of the course has made it easier for students to grasp the material.
“In class, I can get the concept, and then the speaker applies what we’ve learned to what they do at a Fortune 50 company. It brings it into perspective,” said marketing major Helena Ramos ’22.
Embedding Comcast into the course is the brainchild of McCloskey and Christian Nascimento, a 1997 Widener graduate who serves as executive director in product management for the company. Nascimento is also a member of the School of Business Administration Dean’s Advisory Council.
“I had a really great experience at Widener. I learned a lot and was well prepared for the business world,” he said. “I like to give back and help tailor the curriculum and focus of these programs. The graduates of SBA are prepared and are the type of workers we look to hire.”
And the course, said Nascimento, offers them a “good mix of real-world information and in-class experience.”
During their visit to Comcast headquarters, the Management 100 students met with Nascimento and several other Widener alumni in top-level positions in marketing, engineering, and auditing.
Economics major Dalton Slater ’22 described the experience as motivating and confidence-boosting.
“If I work hard here at Widener, do what I’m supposed to do, I can get a job at a great company like Comcast,” said Slater. “You’re 18- or 19-years-old, and your introduction to college is this big executive who says ‘I was here and you can do this.’”
Widener graduate Art Kalemkarian ’04, Comcast’s senior director reliability engineering, stressed to Slater and his classmates the value of internships and co-ops. Kalemkarian should know. As an electrical engineering major at Widener, he conducted a co-op at Comcast, and never left the company.
Beginning this semester, Widener and Comcast have initiated a formal co-op partnership to allow hands-on learning opportunities for university students pursuing business, computer science, and engineering.
Accounting major Mat Thomas ’21 is the first co-op student under the new program.
At Comcast, he’s working in the strategic development department, which handles business strategy and partner engagements.
Thomas, who is also interested in marketing and is a photographer on the side, calls the experience a “dream job.”
He credits his classes and professors for helping prepare him for the experience, and loves the fast-paced environment, being in the heart of Philadelphia, and making connections at the company. Thomas has already been offered a part-time position at Comcast when his co-op ends.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially as a sophomore,” he said.