In the competitive world of work and school, you need to learn to stand out from the rest. It's this kind of thinking that pushed Dhillon School of Business student, Destiny Young Lai to the forefront of her professor's minds.

Showing initiative

What started as a general inquiry into grad school, escalated quickly into a unique research and learning opportunity for Young Lai. The University of Lethbridge student, who is working towards a combined degree in Management and Science (BSc/BMgt), says she asked one of her professors for a letter of recommendation for her grad school application. It was within that conversation that Young Lai's professor, Dr. Katie Lafreniere asked her to work alongside her on a marketing research project, a rare opportunity for most undergraduate students. Excited for the opportunity, Young Lai jumped at the chance to work with Lafreniere on a research topic titled "swearwords in word-of-mouth marketing." Before work began on the project, Young Lai applied to the Chinook Summer Research Award and was granted $6,000 to help her focus on her research.

Does profanity have a place in marketing?

The research topic proved to be an interesting one for the fifth-year Dhillon student. "Research showed that figurative language like swear words are beneficial in certain situations depending on the product." Young Lai adds, "this has amazing implications because it shows that nothing is black or white and it depends on the context." Young Lai says they used baby products as an example in their research, "we looked at real Amazon reviews for baby products that contained at least one swear word to see if it influenced purchase behavior, we found that it did positively influence purchase behavior." This particular research was intriguing to Young Lai, as it combined her interests in psychology and scientific methods.

After completing her research, the British Columbia resident submitted her work to the Society for Marketing (SMA) conference, an annual conference that promotes the growth of intellectual leadership in the field of marketing. Successful in her application, Young Lai was selected to present her research during the 2022 conference held in Charlotte, North Carolina this past November. Young Lai says her time at the conference was invaluable and she has never pushed herself further, "the experience was the hardest learning curve of my academic career, at the same time it confirmed my love for research." The 24-year-old says not only did the conference provide her a chance to network in the the industry," it also presented an incredible opportunity to gain presentation skills for grad school."

Giving credit where it's due while moving towards big goals

Young Lai accredits her positive experience and success to Dhillon in several ways. Her professors have been incredibly supportive and genuinely want her to succeed, she says. Even one of Young Lai's marketing professors came up with questions to ask her to help her prepare for her presentation. Young Lai has also been supported financially through Dhillon's Student Professional Development funding. After she applied, Young Lai received $2,000 to help with travel costs to attend the SMA conference, and another $300 from University of Lethbridge's Student Union (ULSU). Young Lai is thankful for the support and encourages others to take advantage of funding and awards.

Now that Young Lai is in her final year at Dhillon, she is thinking about her goals beyond graduation. The combined degree student's plan is to land herself a digital marketing role focused on adolescents in hopes of developing a brighter future for the next generation. "I want to cultivate research that will make positive changes to privacy laws, app consumption and age requirements, as well as education systems, treatment methods and ethical codes." Young Lai says she believes the SMA conference and her time at Dhillon has given her the tools and confidence to reach her goals.

To learn how you can apply for the Chinook Summer Research Award please click here. For more information on Student Professional Development funding through Dhillon School of Business please click here.

The Dhillon School of Business at the University of Lethbridge is known for its immersive experiential learning opportunities, connecting learners with industry, its supportive, personalized approach and for exposing students to emerging technology. Study options are available in both Lethbridge and Calgary.