Two Oregon Tech students, Jaime Kuchle and Tarrah Bickford, embarked on a journey this summer to Finland, Sweden, and Iceland to conduct international research. Their work with Associate Professor Sonja Bickford in the undergraduate business research lab, the Business Research (Rural and Arctic) Group, made this opportunity possible.


Jaime Kuchle, a senior majoring in Marketing, and Tarrah Bickford, a freshman with a double major in Environmental Science and Marketing, pursued diverse research projects in these Northern European countries. Both projects aim to develop strategies and solutions for increasing economic development and tourism in the community and the region.


Jaime's research project assessed the world of destination branding, and sought to understand its definition and impact on consumer decision-making. By comparing Arctic and Pacific Northwest brands, Jaime explored regional branding strategies and their influence on consumer behavior.


Jaime shared, "This research adventure has been a life-changing experience. Stepping out of my comfort zone and conducting international research has given me unforgettable opportunities, from forming connections with industry leaders to receiving a doctoral thesis that aligns with my work. I now understand the immense value of thinking big and embracing every opportunity."


Tarrah's project focused on corporate tourism and corporate retreats, looking at best practices in marketing these experiences. During the trip, she met with tourism-focused retreat entrepreneurs and branding and marketing agencies.


Tarrah shared, "During our time in Stockholm we were interviewing people in an old town, and I had a wonderful professional come up to me and introduce herself. Turns out, she operates in the corporate travel industry, and she would love to mentor me. This was unexpected – but what an outcome!


“My recommendation for other students is to take advantage of opportunities. If the opportunity makes you a little nervous, but you have a great group to support you, like the students and faculty in the Business Research Group, do it!”


Professor Bickford, whose leadership and mentorship were instrumental in Jaime and Tarrah's research efforts, emphasized the significance of exposing students to the international market. She believes this exposure to research and presenting work at academic conferences equips students with essential skills in global communication and business strategy, preparing students for successful careers in the business world.


The work and data collection conducted by the Business Research (Rural and Arctic) Group was supported by private donations that were matched at Oregon Tech’s Give a Hoot Day fundraiser.


For more information about Oregon Institute of Technology and its research initiatives, please visit www.oit.edu. Additional photos are available at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAW7y9.