Students from Washburn, Emporia State, Wichita State and Kansas universities joined MB Piland Advertising + Marketing for a full-speed-ahead day-in-the-life of a strategic marketing and branding agency. 


meeting high demand

MB Piland developed a formalized Career Test Drive day six years ago when it became evident that many students need a shadow day to understand what their career choices mean.MB Piland Shadow Day Students 2020 lineup

“For some, it’s a class requirement. Students usually have a general idea of what their major area of study will do for them, but until they have a taste of the real environment, it can be difficult for them to realistically imagine themselves in their chosen profession,” said Martha Bartlett Piland, agency president and CEO. “We take them through an accelerated marketing and branding project from start to finish. We put them in the hot seat with role playing and some tough assignments that push them outside their comfort zones—just like real life,” continued Bartlett Piland.

While the students can’t learn it all in one day, this opens their eyes to the strategy and planning that must happen—the hard work of solving complex problems—before a glitzy video, logo or ad campaign is created.

"The strategy meeting was probably the most valuable experience of the day. It equips us with the tools we need to be prepared for an actual job in marketing and see what it is for ourselves," said a student surveyed following the experience.

the selection process

Each year, MB Piland reaches out to colleges and universities to publicize the event through social media, in-classroom presentations and outreach to professors and career offices. Students apply online, then are chosen through a competitive process.

MB Piland Shadow Day Students at Work 2020“We’re pleased that many of the area universities have students applying. Evaluating and choosing who can attend this event makes our job of selecting participants very difficult,” said Alexandra Reilly, vice president at MB Piland.

The Career Test Drive is held during spring break, so students don’t have to miss class to attend. Since most of the Kansas institutions have spring break the same week, it makes it easy for a broad range of students to apply. “I think it shows how ambitious and impressive these students are,” said Bartlett Piland. “Instead of taking it easy on their break, they’re working on their careers.”


Workforce is the number one concern for many of our clients. For students, entry into the workforce is equally—if not more—concerning. MB Piland’s annual Career Test Drive is designed to plant the seeds for future employees in our industry and in our community.

“It’s important to us that we play a role in developing new talent in the field of marketing,” said Bartlett Piland. “This event not only serves the students, but also the business and marketing community. It’s rewarding to us and to the students to share this experience and build a stronger workforce.”Valerie MBP Shadow Day 2020

"Before this, I honestly did not want to consider working at an agency. I am grateful for this experience and the impact it has had on my career decisions moving forward," said another participant surveyed after Shadow Day.

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