Landing a job was ‘In The Bag’ for former WSU co-op student

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By: Joe Kleinsasser

Finding a job after college used to be a given for most graduates. But a struggling economy has lowered expectations and made starting a career less certain. Recent Wichita State University graduate Kate Moran credits her experience in WSU’s Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning Program for leveling the playing field.

Moran graduated in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, and she immediately landed a job as marketing manager for In The Bag Cleaners in Wichita. Her job responsibilities include promotions, coupon analysis, market research, social media, blogs, event sponsorship, graphic design and media relations.

Moran discovered Wichita State’s co-op program after her sophomore year. For the past five academic years, the WSU co-op office has averaged 1,195 placements involving more than 850 students per year.

Moran looked into the program because she wanted relevant work experience in preparing for a career after graduation.

“Internships during college make you a more rounded individual. It takes your education to the next level,” said Moran. “You will learn concepts and methods in the classroom; however, you do not get the full knowledge until you apply it. It is very valuable to learn the basics in the classroom while applying them in the real world.”

‘WSU preps you for a successful future’
Moran has no doubt that the co-op and internship experiences helped her find work after graduation.

“The atmosphere at WSU preps you for a successful future,” said Moran. “Professors and business professionals in Wichita want you to work before graduating. In this community, work experience is very critical and it can really determine whether you find a job post-graduation.”

If anything, Moran wishes she would have known about the co-op program sooner. Her advice to students is, “Start internships as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to accept multiple internships; they all provide different perspectives and an overall experience.”

While she was a student, Moran spent one semester working at Farm Bureau Financial Services as a marketing/sales associate.

“My confidence grew, and I became very comfortable with business relations,” said Moran.

She also spent two semesters at the Arthritis Foundation as a special events coordinator intern, gaining nonprofit marketing experience and the knowledge to plan various special events.

And Moran spent two semesters at Kansas Children’s Service League as an unpaid marketing intern.

“During my internship I expanded my graphic design experience, learned more about newsletters and e-newsletters, social media presence and knowledge, as well as the crucial importance of branding,” said Moran. “It takes a lot of devotion to go in and work for free. But I loved it, and it was worth it.”

Building confidence
Another perk in using the co-op program is building confidence. You acquire the buoyancy that you are the best candidate for a specific company, said Moran.

Sara Muzzy, co-op coordinator for the W. Frank Barton School of Business and College of Fine Arts, said Moran’s tenacity and willingness to work hard helped her become more successful.

“Kate Moran was an exceptional student, one of only two I have worked with who interned for two different co-op positions in the same semester,” Muzzy said. “She was determined to gain the experience necessary to be more marketable upon graduation through multiple internships with our office.

“Kate is a great example of a marketing student who took full advantage of what the co-op office has to offer WSU students,” said Muzzy.

Moran credits one of her WSU marketing professors for helping her appreciate the significance of social media.

“Dr. Cindy Claycomb put a lot of emphasis on social media and the rapid changes in marketing, which I found very helpful. Marketing today revolves around social media,” said Moran. “She also encourages involvement on social media websites, which I used firsthand to find my job, via Twitter.”

Claycomb isn’t surprised by Moran’s success.

“Kate is a wonderful young lady,” said Claycomb. “She was thoughtful and engaged as a student in the classroom. I enjoyed her as a student and I like to keep up with her now via her Tweets on Twitter. I know she will do well in her career.”

Her education, which included minors in entrepreneurship and management, should serve her well in the future. Although Moran doesn’t have a specific career goal, she plans to gain three to five years marketing experience at In The Bag Cleaners before possibly running her own business.

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