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Dec. 16, 2011
Thirteen Northwest Missouri State University students have a little better idea of what to expect when they leave the college campus and transition into their careers after spending a work day at PlattForm Advertising in Lenexa, Kan.
The students visited PlattForm Friday, Dec. 2, after Jennifer Pine, a recruiter at the agency, contacted Mass Communications Instructor Jacquie Lamer and Northwest’s Office of Career Services. Pine said she was eager to give Northwest students who are interested in the advertising field a chance to shadow some of PlattForm’s employees.
“I really wanted them to get to see an ad agency in a real way, to see what it’s really like and that it’s not all ‘Mad Men’-esque,” Pine said. “I also wanted for them to either broaden their horizons or open up their eyes to a facet of the business they hadn’t thought of or didn’t know existed.”
Pine said she reached out to Northwest to help interactive digital media (IDM) majors gain some job shadowing experience. And with 12 Northwest graduates employed at PlattForm, Pine also recognizes the strong skill sets that Northwest alumni are bringing to the agency. Currently, the agency employs Northwest alumni in a variety of areas, including client services, social media, production and marketing.
“A lot of the IDM kids we have found, they’re coming out with some great experience that fits nicely with what we’re doing here,” Pine said. “We’ve had a ton of success in the last year or so with hiring Bearcats.”
During their visit, Northwest students toured the agency and were treated to a lunch time concert featuring some of PlattForm’s musically-inclined staffers. During the afternoon, students were matched with staff members working in areas that appeal to them, from web design to communications. PlattForm treated the students to lunch and agreed to split the cost of a shuttle bus with Northwest.
The day was geared toward IDM majors who are juniors or seniors and are looking for internships, Pine said. The job shadowing experience was meant to help students apply some of the skills they’re learning in the classroom to the work of a professional agency.
Wendy Whelan, a senior IDM major from Quincy, Ill., spent part of the visit observing Justin Weiners, a recent Northwest graduate who now works with web design and development at PlattForm.
“The IDM major is so vast, and we cover multitudes of possible career opportunities,” Whelan said. “This visit shed some light on a few of those possibilities. It shifted my goals for learning a bit for my last trimester (at Northwest), and I learned that the desire to learn and to always be at the front of new trends and technology is one of the most important things for IDM majors.”
Added Erin Funk, a junior IDM major from Johnston, Iowa: “It allowed me to see the content that I am learning in Jacquie Lamer’s classes and how it is used by multiple people on a daily basis. The tour and job shadow allowed me not only a look inside an advertising agency but the chance to see what someone who was once in my exact place did with the degree that I will be earning.”
The visit was one of several planned for students in Northwest’s Department of Mass Communications throughout the academic year. Assistant Professor Dr. Jonathan P. Pluskota recently took students in his media leadership class visited several Kansas City-based companies, including NBC Action News, Barkley advertising agency and Kansas City Area Transportation Authority - The Metro.
While the department prides itself on hands-on instruction through opportunities such as students publications, radio and television stations, the visits also help students gain a deeper understanding of the media field beyond the Northwest campus.
“It’s priceless,” said Tom Stiles, a senior IDM major from Dexter, Iowa. “It’s something that not every student gets to do. But at Northwest, the opportunities are endless. The mass communications department is always giving us opportunities to take trips like this, and it speaks volumes about the department.”
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
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