Imagine taking a course in which creating content to post on an NKU-themed Instagram and TikTok page is one of your most significant duties. Or a class where you work for a huge company like Kroger to research what Gen Z looks for in an ideal employer.
These classes are a reality at the Haile College of Business and are shaping the career landscapes for students at every level. The marketing department at NKU features two unique classes this semester, Digital Storytelling and Content Creation as well as Consumer Insights, that put students in the field and unveil their passions.
Professor Kimberly Roush teaches Digital Storytelling and Content Creation, a special topics class that made its way to students for the first time this semester. Students in the class were tasked with creating an Instagram and TikTok account from the ground up that represents NKU students and is filled with posts directly from marketing students. Their accounts, @norse_life_ on both platforms, showcase what it’s like to be a Norse and include an array of content, from day-in-the-life mini-vlogs to geese memes.
“One of the things we’ve noticed with a lot of NKU social media, and specific to the College of Business, is there’s a lot of really wonderful content, but we wanted something that was for the students by the students; a student view of student life at NKU,” the professor said.
Roush tied in this project to the class content because it showcases just how important it is for businesses to have a strong digital presence and produce fresh content every day. For students who want to pursue digital marketing as a career, many companies now require experience in content creation for even entry-level positions, Roush pointed out. This class allows students to have tangible evidence of their creations and showcase their work in a portfolio ideal for future employers.
After senior marketing major Kayla Draper heard Roush’s development plans for the digital marketing class, she jumped at the opportunity to take the course. Draper mentioned how social media is already an integral part of so many students’ lives, and their ability to run the accounts gives more relevance and a fun nature to their association with the university.
“Social media is everywhere and being able to get some experience in some of those software and actually developing content has been such a good experience,” Draper said.
Dr. David Raska puts his nonprofit agency to work in Consumer Insights, a marketing class that allows students to gain an internship-like experience in the span of a semester.
The Underground Agency is a nonprofit founded by Raska that conducts marketing and branding for its business clients, which have included the likes of Kroger and PepsiCo. The Agency is 100% student-employed and does not exist outside of the classroom according to Raska. Clients of The Underground Agency are all former students who at one point got their own taste of the experience.
Students in Consumer Insights become “rookies,” completing an onboarding training to understand what The Underground Agency is all about before they start collaborating with their current client Kroger.
To Raska, the partnership is so valuable because students gain one important thing: confidence. The professor said students come in with an interest in marketing but might be unsure of what they actually want to pursue as a career, and they leave with concrete knowledge of what they are good at and where their passions lie.
“Many of my students come into The Agency and they’re confused. They feel lost. They often don’t know why they’re in the college in the first place,” the professor said.
Raska said for many students the lightbulb goes off immediately with all the career possibilities the experience can bring. Through the training process, the rookies see prior students who sat in their seats and are now brand managers or vice presidents.
“They realize, ‘oh my gosh that can be me.’ And for some of them, it gives them hope and a little motivation, if you will,” Raska said.
Senior marketing major Alex Trimpe is a testament to the idea that Consumer Insights can shine a light on a previously shadowed career path.
“It’s the first time I had a class at NKU that really showed me how a professor can be a strong mentor for you and how it can [give] tangible career skills. A lot of skills I’ve gained being in that class have done astronomical things for my confidence,” Trimpe said.
These career skills gained from Consumer Insights are the same as those that would be gained from an external internship or co-op, while students can still maintain jobs they need to be financially stable. Collaboration among students in the same field and the ability to be mentored by a professor are two additional components that make the course invaluable to students.
Whether it’s Digital Storytelling and Content Creation or Consumer Insights, students leave the classroom changed and equipped. The marketing professors aim to help students find their way through the weeds of life after graduation, and students like Trimpe and Draper are emerging better for it.
“I have definitely found a love for content creation,” Draper said. “Marketing is such a broad major, which makes it appealing but kind of scary, so [it’s important] being able to have the confidence that I can prove I know these things and being able to have something to show for that.”
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