Students don’t have to wait until graduation to discover what companies look for in marketing hires, thanks to the Washington State University Marketing Club. Every semester, marketing professor John Kalu Osiri helps club members get a jump on their careers by taking them on a networking trip to some of Seattle’s most successful businesses.

This fall, 32 students visited AT&T, Microsoft, Portent Inc., and Tutta Bella Pizzeria, where Coug alumni conducted tours and hosted networking opportunities.

At Tutta Bella Pizzeria, owned by Joe Fugere (’84), students brainstormed with the company’s marketing manager and creative design director Amy French to develop exciting promotion tactics for the men’s health awareness, campaign, “Movember Movement.”

Club members attend a Q&A session with AT&T’s marketing division.
Club members attend a Q&A session with AT&T’s marketing division.

“Visiting Tutta Bella was a very enjoyable and interactive activity,” said Adriana Tejeda, a recent graduate from Bellevue, Wash. “Some of us came up with an idea to post pictures of willing customers wearing a mustache, then to hashtag and follow them on Instagram or Facebook.”

Tejeda and Scott Fukumae, a senior from Pearl City, Hawaii, said the visit to Portent Inc., a digital marketing agency, was particularly helpful because of its focus on Internet marketing and creative work environment. Tejeda is planning on a career in Internet marketing and said Portent leadership spoke about search engine optimization, pay per click, analytics and coding language skills the company looks for in potential employees.

“I was familiar with most of these skills and terms since they were taught in most of my classes,” Tejeda said.

Fukumae said seeing how Portent inspires employee creativity by providing lounge areas with televisions, motivational paintings and work areas designed to foster idea exchange gave him valuable insights toward landing his dream job as a promotional marketer for the performing arts industry.

“Visiting Seattle to get a better understanding of the marketing culture was truly a one of a kind experience that I couldn’t get at a campus career fair,” he said.

Marinn Young, a marketing and international business senior from Ferndale, Wash., said the industry connections helped her gain insights on her future.

“What really surprised me was how much people jump from job to job before really settling into a career,” she said. It reinforced the importance of making sure that what you are doing is the right fit, she said.

Students said the best overall thing about the experience was networking with business professionals, and especially with Coug alumni Don Lionetti (’87), Microsoft account manager; Brea Starmer (’05), Portent vice president of client development; and Ryan Lockwood (’10), AT&T director of knowledge management – Advanced Enterprise Solutions.

Learn more about the Marketing Club.