Agency Program Offers Real World Experience for Students

Posted on 11/3/2015 3:30:38 PM

The Agency Program, housed in the Small Businesses Development Center (SBDC) in the Eberly College of Business Technology and Information Technology, provides students with opportunities that teach important career skills in the fields of business development, marketing and social media, graphic design, public relations, and much more.   

The purpose of the Agency Program is to create an opportunity for students to gain real world experience before they graduate. Students are offered this experience through hands-on projects with real clients from the community that need assistance with developing public relation campaigns, conducting market research and designing logos, campaign materials, and more.  

Dorothy Nichter, marketing senior; Richard Hoover, The Agency founder; Juan Navia, marketing senior; and Michael Mann, accounting senior.“The impact on the students is incredible,” said Tony Palamone, director of the SBDC. “They show up because they want to, not because they have to. Richard Hoover really has a special skill. He has recruited a huge number of students and is managing to provide an environment conducive to their personal and professional growth.” 

Pictured from left to right: Dorothy Nichter, marketing senior; Richard Hoover, the Agency founder; Juan Navia, marketing senior; and Michael Mann, accounting senior.

“The Agency acts as an immersive training program for students to develop real soft and hard skills,” said Richard Hoover, IUP graduate and founder of the Agency. “The development of these skills is making students stand out from other graduates.”   

More than 20 students are volunteering at the Agency this semester. These students are learning a multitude of practical skills that will help them get a job after graduation. Some include hard skills such as understanding Excel, financial training, Adobe software products, and even 3D printing. Soft skills are also an important focus of this program that teach the importance of task delegation and client and professional relationships, as well as team communication.   

“The Agency is a place for ambitious students to hone their professional skills and goals,” said Juan Navia, codirector of design and production, marketing senior. “It allows students to develop as a person and gives them the opportunity to experience hands-on work they would never see in a classroom setting.”  

“My role as CEO of the Agency at IUP is to empower each member of this organization to reach his or her full potential as a professional as well as a person,” said Michael Mann II, accounting senior. “We assure participating students that it is okay to take risks because they will always have someone there that will have their back and pick them up if they fail.”  

The structure of the program is set up similarly to a corporate environment, encouraging students to follow a chain of command and communicate effectively with other members and departments. Mann, along with Hoover and Bright, handle overall organization, recruitment, internal communications, and strategies to drive productivity and culture.  

“I manage a team of six people at the Agency, making it imperative that I keep the team working together as a cohesive unit,” said director of marketing Dorothy Nichter, senior marketing major. “This program has also allowed me the opportunity to integrate branding and evoking into real campaigns that my team orchestrates.”    

Previous students have used the skills obtained from their experience to go on to working with businesses such as M&T Bank, Citizens Bank, and American Express Singapore.  

“The experience that I gained while interning taught me so much, and I still use a lot of the things I learned while there,” said Nick Szelc ’13, who now works at Aetna Insurance Corporate. “For me the things I learned from using QuickBooks, Excel, and writing business plans helped me land two positions right out of college. A position with the SBDC is honestly something I think every business student should be fighting for.”  

“We aren’t here to try and fit in after graduation; our goal is to stand out,” said Mann. “Knowing that I’m not following the norm and understanding my brand as a professional sets me and every member in this organization apart from other professionals post graduation.”

The Agency is constantly accepting new volunteers who are dedicated to learning and gaining experience in their field. Interested students should contact Richard Hoover at, or visit the SBDC in Eberly, room 108, for more information.

Casey Lemmons
Director of Public Relations
The Agency