SEMA Gives Students Valuable Work Experience

SEMA Member News – July/August 2016

By Katie Carson

SEMA Gives Students Valuable Work Experience

  SEMA Education
(From left) Kyle Dreifus, Karina Pacheco, Alex O’Farrell, Erica Kisler and Maritza Rodriguez (not shown) were given the opportunity to create and present a marketing plan for the SEMA Ignited event through SEMA’s case-study program.

SEMA’s marketing and education departments have teamed to support the association’s Career Path initiative to engage the next generation and address the industry’s employment challenges.

A major component of the association’s drive to create a talent pipeline is working with students to create awareness and excitement for the industry and the career paths that are available. SEMA has partnered with California State University Fullerton’s PRactical ADvantage Communications program and five students to perform a case study with the goal of creating a standardized template that can be used by students nationally.

SEMA Vice President of Marketing Ira Gabriel and his team provided five public relations and advertising students with a case study of SEMA Ignited, a consumer-driven event that takes place after the close of the trade-only SEMA Show. The case study gave a thorough description of the industry, the association and its mission to help member companies succeed. It also outlined the history of SEMA Ignited while laying out the marketing plans used in the previous years, along with the strategic processes the association followed to achieve the goals of the event. The students’ objective: Design a hypothetical working marketing plan for SEMA Ignited using a given budget.

“The SEMA Ignited marketing case study is another great example of how the association engages the next generation of automotive professionals,” said SEMA Chairman of the Board Doug Evans. “By strengthening our partnerships with schools, SEMA can better address the Career Path initiative by increasing awareness for automotive-related jobs and creating a talent pipeline into this exciting industry. The partnership with Cal State Fullerton’s PRactical ADvantage Communications program highlights the diversity of career opportunities available in the automotive aftermarket and the next wave of professionals who will help keep our industry strong.”

The students presented their final proposal in May. It consisted of a comprehensive plan to meet the stated goals for the 2016 SEMA Ignited event. The students worked to create a unique vision and goals as well as a mission and value statement for their proposal. They addressed customer/market segmentation, competitors in the market, best- and worst-case economic scenarios and performed a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis.

After identifying the target audience and the overall mission of the project, the students presented a comprehensive marketing plan to direct SEMA resources toward the targeted goal. The proposal outlined their implementation strategy and provided measurable objectives to evaluate success.

“On behalf of PRactical ADvantage Communications, our student-run ad/PR agency, and Cal State Fullerton, we are pleased to be working with SEMA,” said Professor Pete Evanow, co-director of the agency. “I’ve worked in the auto and motorsports industries for more than 30 years, and SEMA is a leader within it. It is a real honor to be able to have our students work behind the scenes with executives at the association in helping them on a specific project. It’s this kind of practical experience that our students desire as they prepare for their careers once they graduate.”

SEMA has created a dedicated microsite at that allows university instructors to enroll their students in the case-study program and gain real-world, hands-on experience.

“This is a good, eye-opening experience for students to understand how important all fields of study, training and education are to our industry,” Gabriel said. “There are plenty of opportunities for professionals specializing in communications, finance, marketing and more.”

The goal of the project is to offer universities multiple case studies encompassing the wide variety of job functions that students can pursue in the automotive aftermarket industry.

SEMA Career Center

SEMA recently launched a new online Career Center geared specifically toward jobs in the automotive aftermarket industry. The site is the ultimate hub to connect automotive aftermarket job seekers with companies looking for viable candidates.

This is a benefit for professionals and students looking for career opportunities within the automotive aftermarket industry. Jobs are searchable by area, job function, type and level, allowing searches to be narrowed to exactly what job seekers are looking for. Another great feature of the site is the ability to create a profile and upload a résumé so that employers are able to find candidates. To start a search for opportunities, visit

SEMA recognizes that there is a need for a platform in which automotive aftermarket companies are able to search for candidates specifically experienced in the industry. Employers are able to post position openings, search for candidates, have candidate résumés e-mailed directly to them and receive valuable reporting information. Start your search today. Visit

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