Students: experience, education important


When Ben Moats, 2008 K-State graduate in business management, first entered college, he had already spent six years in the workforce gathering the skills necessary to serve as a business manager for a manufacturing company.

Moats is an example of a graduate who has gotten his job as a result of practical experience and the academic background he received at K-State. He transferred to K-State from Highland Community College, located in Wamego. Moats is the part-time owner of a number of companies and a business manager at KG Moats and Sons, a manufacturing and systems integration company located in St. Mary’s, Kan.

However, Moats was a nontraditional student because he worked six years before going to college. Moats said his work experience helped him when he started looking for a job. He became a shop worker and later a business manager for the same company. Without his education at K-State, he would still be working in the shop, he said, and he would not have been able to transition to an administrative and management job.

While he thinks that experience is very helpful, Moats said practical experience and academics are both necessary for furthering one’s career.

“Academics is a very good foundation … In business management, the foundation is important to have, but experience is more important because it is not very specialized,” Moats said. “However, for the more specialized fields, academics is more important.”

Moats said he learned the value of academics in specialized fields after he saw his brother Nick receive a degree from K-State in electrical engineering. Moats said he thinks that K-State has elevated his mind with its excellence in academics and is impressed with K-State as a whole.

Tim Lindemuth, editor-in-chief of K-Stater Magazine, said he believes academics and practical experience are both very important for a student’s success. K-State not only gives its students a good education, but it also tries to help them find the jobs that they are looking for in addition to hiring a good many of them, he said.

Lindemuth also said he is always willing to help people in any way possible, including but not limited to giving out K-Stater Magazine to illustrate good writing. He has worked at K-State for 35 years and said the university aims to keep its employees for as long as possible.

Steve Smethers, associate professor of journalism and mass communications, said because of the economy, many graduates receive jobs that utilize their skills, but not their dream jobs.

According to the K-State 2010 one-year alumni survey summary report, 83 percent of first-year alumni said they have been employed in a field related to their degree or area of study. Ninety-seven percent of four-year alumni said they have been employed, and 81 percent of them said they have their ideal job.

Smethers said networking is very important, which is why he brings in people like Steve Physioc, professional sports play-by-play commentator, to talk to students and to possibly give them help or job references later on. Smethers said that neither academics nor the practical experience is more important than the other.

“We push our students to get internships,” Smethers said. “The job search starts now, not when you are a senior … it starts from the moment you step foot on campus.”

Andrea Gladin, 2002 graduate in architecture, worked at an architecture firm for a year, but realized that she had other interests that she wanted to pursue.

After deciding that architecture was no longer for her, she decided to apply for a position at K-State.

Currently, Gladin is the director of programs for the K-State Alumni Association. Gladin said one of the main reasons that she got this job was because she was a member of the student alumni board, saying that her experiences as a student allowed her to have a grasp on what the job entailed and knew many of the professionals involved in the organization.

“I seized the opportunity that was given to me by the alumni association,” Gladin said. “The practical experiences are just as important as the studies … whether it’s through travel, internship or extracurriculars. They are important learning oppurtunities and may help the student in his or her future path.”

Gladin said she was intrigued by a different job and wanted to work with people more. She said she really enjoys the job that was given to her and that, although she received an excellent education in architecture, she wants to be in the profession that she currently is in.

“Activity in college is very important,” Smethers said. “K-State gives students the practical experience as well as academics – they go hand in hand.”