Internship Helped Kim Put Pieces Into Place

Once Hana Kim started her internship, all those classroom lessons began to finally make sense.

“It was in that last semester, when I was doing my internship, I began seeing things,” said Kim, who interned with Design Angler, a Bemidji-based advertising and marketing agency. “This is why I’m learning about email marketing in class, this is why I was assigned homework to prepare a marketing plan. It definitely helped to experience that as a student.”

Kim worked as an intern during her final semester at Bemidji State University, and upon her graduation in spring 2016, she was hired full-time as a digital marketing strategist full-time at Design Angler, an agency founded in 2008 by Bemidji State alum Randy Syverson.

“The projects I enjoy the most (involve) working with data,” Kim said, “doing the market research with pre-existing data, and then reporting at the end of the month, like maybe through Google Analytics.”

Kim was born in Utah but spent much of her life in Korea, where her parents still live. Kim, who served as the marketing coordinator and then president of the International Student Organization at BSU, ended up moving in a friend of her mother’s who lived in Woodbury, Minn. She lived there for about a year, graduating from Tartan High School in Oakdale.

She then began looking at colleges in Minnesota, ultimately deciding on Bemidji State University, though she was not initially sure of what she’d major in.

“I had no idea, but because I was interested in human minds I went for psychology, and then, like a lot of psych majors, I learned it’s much more than just understanding what other people are thinking,” she said.

Next, because she has long been interested in international business, she considered pursuing a degree in business administration.

“But then I learned about marketing communication, which is a rare hybrid,” she said. “I took a couple of business courses, a couple of mass comm classes, and I really got into it.”

Kim credits her experiences with BSU’s Marketing Assistance and Research Solutions, a program that provides marketing services such as feasibility studies and focus groups for private clients, with solidifying her career aspirations.

“I think that’s how I found that I really like to analyze data,” she said. “It was tough but it was a very, very good experience.”

Swanson Angles for Business Experience

You could say Thor Swanson’s time at Bemidji State University has been “reel” interesting.

A junior from Blaine, Minn., Swanson has been president of the Bemidji State University College Fishing Team, a club activity that promotes camaraderie and sportsmanship while providing an avenue for competitive fishing. Team members compete against hundreds of other college fishing teams throughout the United States.

“When you think of fishing you don’t think of it as a business, but it’s a million-dollar industry,” said Swanson, who plans to become a professional fisherman. “The pros, they fish for $100,000 for one tournament. It’s definitely something you can really do. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, right behind trap shooting.”

The Bemidji State fishing team is ranked 18th in the country and has for three years straight qualified for the national championships.

But while Swanson and his teammates certainly bond over their angling skills and experiences, their experiences in the club also are teaching them priceless business skills.

“A big thing that the fishing team has taught us is self-promotion,” said Swanson, who is pursuing a degree in Marketing Communication. “In professional angling, fishing is one of the biggest things obviously, but the next-biggest thing is you have to promote all your sponsors, because they’re paying you whether you do good in the tournament or not.”

Fine Arts Led Heisserer to Social Services

 

Thirteen years ago, Kassie Heisserer nearly turned down her initial interview with the nonprofit agency she now runs.

Heisserer graduated in 2003 from Bemidji State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative and Professional Writing. As she looked toward her future at that time, she figured she’d need some type of traditional employment to support her writing passions, yet she wasn’t initially enthusiastic about this current opportunity, part-time administrative work with a growing nonprofit.

“But I started and realized that I also have a passion for the social work side of things as well, I ended up loving it.”

Bridges of Hope, a nonprofit based in Brainerd, MN assists families in crisis by connecting them with local resources that can help. The organization serves approximately 1,500 or more households a year, bridging the gap between those who need assistance and the agencies than can provide it.

Heisserer thrived in her initial administrative-support role and quickly rose through the ranks as she took on additional roles.

“I really had an amazing opportunity to grow along with my organization,” she said. “By the end of my first year, I was seeing things that were becoming emergency needs, so I just had a conversation with my supervisor, ‘Can I work more? I see things, other things, that I can take on.’”

Heisserer started as an administrative assistant, then became the office manager. Later, she became the nonprofit’s associate director and then its development director. In 2016, she was named the executive director.

“Within that, I’ve done basically everything, aside from providing the direct services with the clients here,” she said.

Her skills include grant-writing, fundraising, donor relations, bookkeeping, budgeting, program development, and program evaluation.

Heisserer said her experiences and education at Bemidji State have been integral to her success at Bridges at Hope, particularly when communicating with clients, donors, funders, and the public.

“For sure, a whole lot of running a nonprofit has to do with communication,” she said. “We are communicating all the time.”

Heisserer, who has returned to her hometown of Pillager, MN attended Bemidji State on a full tuition scholarship intending to pursue a teaching career. During her final year, however, as she routinely found herself more drawn to writing courses she changed her major.

“Don’t be afraid to change your mind,” she said, encouraging incoming and current BSU students to follow their hearts and passions. “I think a lot of people focus on the (financial) security of a certain field. …. But I think you can do things that you truly love.”

Connect2Careers and Resume Help Boosted Rausch

From the time Anna Rausch took her first Accounting class in high school, she knew it was the field she would study in college.

“I loved the numbers; I loved the book work,” she said.

Rausch, a native of Albany, Minn., opted to attend Bemidji State University because she enjoyed the feel and size of the campus. She graduated in 2016, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.

Rausch became a staff accountant at Miller McDonald, Inc., a Bemidji-based accounting firm that long has found success in hiring Bemidji State graduates. It has 13 BSU graduates on staff, including three partners.

“The Bemidji State University Accounting program has proven to be a great resource of talent for Miller McDonald over the years,” said Jeremie Midboe, a shareholder in the firm. “We have been in business since 1970 and have always had great luck in hiring ready-to-succeed talent from BSU.”

Rausch was already unfamiliar with Miller McDonald upon her hiring. While at BSU, she watched the Connect2Careers database for potential internships and secured a three-month position over the tax season. Career Services also worked with her to improve her resume.

She learned a lot during her internship and enjoyed the work, gaining real-world experience that she describes as an “amazing” opportunity.

“Accounting just appeals to me,” Rausch said. “It just clicks with what I do. I like doing the work.”

Early Start Put Moreno on Fast Track to CEO Job

When Dallas Moreno told a teacher at her high school that she planned to graduate college with an accounting degree in three years’ time, that teacher told her it was impossible.

Yet Moreno did exactly that. In fact, she graduated from Bemidji State University in 2016 with a double major. She has a degree in accounting with a fraud examination minor and another degree in business administration with a finance emphasis.

Moreno is now a CEO   ̶  chief executive officer of the Northwest Minnesota Association of Realtors, based in Bemidji.

“I wasn’t the typical college student by any means,” she said. “I mean, I took 19 credits every summer.”

Moreno started work on her degree while still in high school, taking courses through a concurrent enrollment program at Bemidji High School. By the time she graduated from high school in 2013, she’d earned 20 college credits.

“Taking the extra classes and putting in the extra effort, and getting it done, now as I sit here, all those times I’m stressing over late-night deadlines and papers, it was so worth it,” Moreno said.

Her job includes a range of responsibilities, including financing, accounting, government affairs and advocacy. She ensures that Realtors are meeting core standards and state and national rules.

“I love it. It’s a blast. It’s something different every day,” Moreno said. “I can go into the office with the mindset of, ‘This is what I’m going to get done,’ and at the end of the day, if I had that done I would be completely shocked, just because so much comes up and so much happens.

“The real estate industry, how much and how fast it changes, is crazy. It’s not the same thing day-in and day-out.”

Having graduated college without any debt, she appreciates the partnership between BSU and Bemidji High School and donors who have supported scholarships at Bemidji State.

“I’m just very grateful for the connection between BSU and BHS and the small-town feel like you get from both. They actually care,” Moreno said. “… “They give you resources, and I am very thankful for that.”

Early Start on Career Prep Pays Dividends

Students should fit career preparation into their college schedules as early as their first year, says Margie Giauque, director of the Office of Career Services at Bemidji State University.

“Students who work with us are better prepared and find jobs more closely related to their fields,” Giauque said.

Although jobs, and the tools for finding them, have changed dramatically since she joined Bemidji State in 1994, the four basic strategies of exploring, preparing, targeting and launching are fundamentally the same.

When Giauque began at BSU, she was a department of one. During her tenure, she has advocated for more staff, resources and internships. The Career Services office now consists of four staff members and student workers who help resident students, distance students, NTC students and alumni with resume guidance and review, interview practice, internships and on-campus interviews. Her persistence has been the key to building partnerships with employers and creating opportunities.

The office pays particular attention to the role it plays for first-generation college students. Giauque often shares her personal story to make a connection.

As a TRiO student at University of North Dakota, Giauque benefited from the resources available and the people who guided her back on the right path when she made missteps.

“I was one of them,” she said. “Someone believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

The drive to help students succeed applies to everyone  ̶  from scared first-year students to alumni who are progressing in their careers. Giauque uses her own strengths to help others learn theirs. She is comfortable looking into the future and helping identify ways to improve employability.

Said Giauque, “I know I can impact change.”

 

“Accounting Just Appeals to Me”

From the time Anna Rausch took her first Accounting class in high school, she knew it was the field she would study in college.

“I loved the numbers; I loved the book work,” she said.

Rausch, a native of Albany, Minn., graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. She became a staff accountant at Miller McDonald, Inc., a Bemidji-based accounting firm that long has found success in hiring Bemidji State graduates. It has 13 BSU graduates on staff, including three partners.

“The Bemidji State University Accounting program has proven to be a great resource of talent for Miller McDonald over the years,” said Jeremie Midboe, a shareholder in the firm. “We have been in business since 1970 and have always had great luck in hiring ready-to-succeed talent from BSU.”

Rausch was already unfamiliar with Miller McDonald upon her hiring. While at BSU, she watched the Connect2Careers database for potential internships and secured a three-month position over the tax season. Career Services also worked with her to improve her resume.

She learned a lot during her internship and enjoyed the work, gaining real-world experience that she describes as an “amazing” opportunity.

“Accounting just appeals to me,” Rausch said. “It just clicks with what I do. I like doing the work.”