Imagine taking a course where creating content to post on an NKU-themed Instagram and TikTok page is one of your most important tasks. Or a class where you work for a big company like Kroger to research what Gen Z is looking for in an ideal employer.
These courses are a reality at Haile College of Business and shape the career landscapes of students at all levels. NKU’s marketing department is offering two unique courses this semester, Digital Storytelling and Content Creation as well as Consumer Insights, which put students in the field and unveil their passions.
Professor Kimberly Roush teaches Digital Storytelling and Content Creation, a special topics course 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 scratch that represents NKU students and is filled with posts directly from marketing students. Their accounts, @norse_life_ on both platforms, show what it’s like to be a Norse and include an array of content, from daily mini-vlogs to goose memes.
“One of the things we noticed with a lot of NKU social media, and specific to the College of Business, is that there’s a lot of really wonderful content, but we wanted something that was for students by the students; a student view of student life at NKU,” the professor said.
Roush linked this project to classroom content because it shows how important it is for businesses to have a strong digital presence and produce new content every day. For students looking to pursue a career in digital marketing, many companies now require content creation experience, even for entry-level positions, Roush pointed out. This course allows students to have tangible proof of their creations and to present their work in an ideal portfolio for future employers.
After Senior Marketing Major Kayla Draper heard of Roush’s development plans for the digital marketing class, she jumped at the chance to take the course. Draper mentioned that social media is already an integral part of so many students’ lives, and their ability to manage accounts makes their association with the university more relevant and fun.
“Social media is everywhere and being able to gain experience in some of this software and develop content has been such a great experience,” Draper said.
Dr. David Raska puts his nonprofit agency to work in Consumer Insights, a marketing course that gives students an internship-like experience in the span of a semester.
The Underground Agency is a non-profit organization founded by Raska that deals with the marketing and branding of its commercial clients, which include Kroger and PepsiCo. The Agency is made up of 100% students and does not exist outside the classroom according to Raska. The clients of The Underground Agency are all former students who, at some point, had their own taste of the experience.
Consumer Insights students become “rookies” and undergo onboarding training to understand what The Underground Agency is all about before starting to work with their current client, Kroger.
For Raska, the partnership is so valuable because students gain one important thing: trust. The professor said the students were interested in marketing, but maybe they weren’t sure what they really wanted to do as a career, and they came away with a concrete knowledge of what they were into. are good and of their passions.
“A lot of my students come to the Agency and they’re confused. They feel lost. They often don’t know why they are in college in the first place,” the professor said.
Raska said that for many students, the light bulb goes off immediately with all the career opportunities the experience can bring. Throughout the training process, recruits see former students who sat in their place and are now Brand Managers or VPs.
“They realize, ‘oh my God, that could be me.’ And for some of them, it gives them hope and a bit of motivation, if you will,” Raska said.
Alex Trimpe, Senior Marketing Major, testifies to the idea that Consumer Insights can shed light on a previously murky career path.
“This is the first time I have had a class at NKU that has really shown me how a teacher can be a strong mentor to you and how they can [give] specific professional skills. A lot of the skills I learned in this class did astronomical things for my confidence,” Trimpe said.
These job skills learned through Consumer Insights are the same ones that would be learned through an external internship or co-op, while students can still maintain the jobs they need to be financially stable. Collaboration between students from the same field and the possibility of being supervised by a professor are two additional elements that make the course invaluable for students.
From digital storytelling and content creation to consumer insights, students leave the classroom changed and equipped. Marketing professors aim to help students find their way through the weeds of life after graduation, and students like Trimpe and Draper fare better.
“I’ve definitely found a love for creating content,” Draper said. “Marketing is such a broad specialty, which makes it appealing but a bit scary, so [it’s important] to be able to have the confidence that I can prove that I know these things and to be able to have something to show for it.