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May 1, 2015
Tim Gillissen arrived at Northwest Missouri State University from the Netherlands in 2011 thinking he would spend a single semester on the campus for a study abroad experience.
But that initial four-month turned into multiple stays, a variety of growth opportunities, internships at Kansas City-area advertising agencies and now culminates in a Master of Business Administration degree.
“Northwest is just a unique environment where students can develop themselves personally, professionally and educationally,” Gillissen said. “It’s a community and it’s a family that I feel so blessed to have been accepted in.”
Gillissen had prepared to attend Northwest for more than year before his arrival for the fall 2011 trimester and says the first time he set foot on the picturesque campus remains one of his favorite memories.
“It was just amazing walking on campus for the first time and seeing everything in real life instead of pictures,” he said.
Gillissen sought a cultural experience at Northwest, but quickly gained much more. He actively engaged in Northwest’s mass media program and gained hands-on experience through its coursework and student organizations. That first fall, he was part of a team in Northwest’s Advanced Advertising Strategies course that developed ways for Kansas City’s Union Station attraction to increase and retain members.
“I come from 7,000 miles away and when students and faculty recommend Northwest, from so far away, that is a big indicator that there’s something special about this environment,” Gillissen said. “I really wanted to study in the United States, and when I heard people talk about Northwest and all the great things they had to say about it, I went for it all the way. Northwest really adopted me into their family. Even as an international student, that’s a great feeling.”
Gillissen returned to the Netherlands for the spring of 2012, but enjoyed his experience at Northwest so much that he enrolled at the University for a second consecutive fall as part of another study abroad experience. During that span, he joined AdInk, Northwest’s advertising club, and participated in the club’s career planning presentation at a Career Day sponsored by the American Advertising Federation-Kansas City. An AdInk job shadow experience also helped him obtain a six-month internship at PlattForm Advertising in Lenexa, Kan.
Additionally, he was involved with the Alpha Mu Gamma language honor society and the Delta Mu Delta business honor society.
“There are some really valuable organizations that have made my college experience so much more beneficial," he said. "It’s allowed me to network with professionals, work with professionals and do extra-curricular things that have really changed my future.”
Gillissen cites Northwest instructor Jacquie Lamer as one faculty member who had an impact on him. With Lamer’s help, Gillissen landed an internship last summer with Kansas City-based Barkley, one of the largest employee-owned advertising agencies in the United States.
“She’s done so incredibly much for me and for other students,” he said. “She helps students get jobs, internships and really goes out of her way to get people connected and do everything for students that she can to help them get further in their career. Because of that, I have so many professional opportunities, and I’ve worked at one of the most prestigious advertising agencies in Kansas City.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree in communication and multimedia design at Zuyd University in the Netherlands, Gillissen opted to return to Northwest once more in the fall of 2013 to pursue his MBA degree. Gillissen has studied at Northwest ever since while working with the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing as a graduate assistant.
“Continuing my degree was incredibly important to me for job opportunities but also to get on a more intellectual level,” he said. “It really helps me think strategically in a business and a graduate degree from Northwest is highly valued.”
Now, as he leaves Northwest to launch his career in the advertising and creative field – he has interviews arranged with multiple Kansas City agencies – Gillissen is thankful for the friendships, opportunities and network he developed.
“The experience I’ve had here is something that is unique,” Gillissen said. “The way I’m accepted into the community and the Bearcat family will help me in the future, and it’s something that has made me the person that I am.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468