New programs, new faculty at K-State

Kurt Roberts, executive director of the Career Coach program, works with students through a new program that focuses on helping students discover possible career opportunities. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

K-State recently started a new program within the College of Business Administration focused on counseling students in their career paths, and with new programs come new faculty members. The university has appointed Kurt Roberts as the new executive director of the Career Coach program.

Roberts is a K-State graduate with a degree in accounting and 25 years of experience with public accounting firms. He started his career at Arthur Andersen, where he worked in audit and consulting positions for 10 years before taking over the lead recruiting role in the Kansas City office. In 2002, Roberts joined KPMG and has spent the last 13 years serving in various recruiting roles with the firm in Kansas City and Dallas.

Roberts is a Colorado native, but he moved to western Kansas while in high school and graduated from Hill City High School. Roberts’ wife, Christine Roberts, is also a K-State graduate with degrees in marketing and management.

“We actually had a class together at K-State, but we didn’t really connect or start dating until about a year after we had graduated through some mutual friends after we had both moved to Kansas City,” Roberts said.

Roberts said they are excited to return to the Manhattan area with their four children, one girl and three boys ages nine through 19. They became a full-time job for his wife, who previously worked in elementary education but transitioned to being a stay-at-home mother after moving to Manhattan.

Roberts said he is eager to get the Career Coach program up and running to benefit students across campus.

“We are building an exciting new program in the K-State College of Business Administration to enhance career readiness of our students by leveraging a team of discipline-specific career coaches with experience in private sector employee recruiting or related areas,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he is excited about the students and the energy they bring him through the Career Coach program.

“Honestly, it’s fun to be in this environment around students everyday,” Roberts said. “My role is great because I get a lot of contact in with the students who want help. They want advice, and that’s what I enjoy doing, is helping and giving them direction.”

Roberts said he has found himself at home at K-State and within the Manhattan community and that he is surprised by how much Manhattan has changed since his time at K-State.

“You look around and you walk around campus and you see all the new buildings and construction progress that’s happening,” Roberts said. “It’s exciting to see, especially coming from the position of being here 25 years ago when Manhattan was a different town. I remember when they built Bramlage (Coliseum). The even funnier thing to me is that I was a student here when they hired Bill Snyder the first time. That’s what I remember, but it has changed so much for the good.”

Roberts said he has already connected with the faculty and staff inside and outside the program; one faculty member who said he supports the Career Coach program is Brett Wilkinson, department head of accounting.

“We are absolutely delighted to have (Roberts) here at K-State to help prepare our students for the recruitment process,” Wilkinson said. “When (he) first arrived, I shared with him my dream of an ‘Accounting Recruiting Boot Camp.’ My goal was that such a boot camp would run just prior to students embarking on their journey into the world of job searching.”

Wilkinson said Roberts made the boot camp a success.

“(Roberts) took this idea and made it a reality within just a few weeks of his arrival on campus,” Wilkinson said.

The Career Coach program has been a work-in-progress that has needed time to grow, according to Roberts.

“Finding ways to make an immediate impact, especially for students preparing to search for internships or full-time positions, has been especially challenging,” Roberts said.

Roberts also said the program has started workshops and individual coaching sessions in early September. Though it is in its early stages, there have been students who have benefited from the program. Minh Mac, senior in finance, said he quickly learned how helpful the Career Coach program is.

“Per my post-graduation plan, I was referred to (Roberts) at the beginning of this semester,” Mac said. “A couple weeks later, I sat down with him at CBA’s first official career coaching session. Within 15 minutes, he helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses while pointing out realistic paths that would guide me to a career in management, consulting or investments.”

Mac also said that Roberts’ past experience is part of what makes him so helpful and such a good teacher.

“Armed with decades of old recruiting experience for high-profile corporations, (Roberts) pays close attention to all the details in the student’s history, then quickly delivers with a set of action-oriented, step-by-step recommendations to walk us through what it takes to pursue our career goals, short-term and long-term,” Mac said.

Mac said the action plans Roberts devises for his students inspire actual results leading to new opportunities.

“Following (Roberts’) action plan, I’ve scored an interview … with a firm I am highly interested in,” Mac said. “I highly recommend all CBA students to visit our career coach to take advantage of this one-of-a-kind program.”

Roberts said he is looking forward to the up-and-coming progress within the College of Business Administration, and that, even more so, he is happy to be in Manhattan with his family providing a helping hand to students in need.