After co-ops, digital marketing majors excited to begin careers

By University Communications
October 20, 2016
Students Kaitlin Travis, left, and Taylor Laube had Cooperative Education Program experiences over the summer at Thomson Reuters related to their studies in digital marketing technology.

Photo: Students Kaitlin Travis, left, and Taylor Laube had Cooperative
Education Program experiences over the summer at Thomson
Reuters related to their studies in digital marketing technology.

Kaitlin Travis and Taylor Laube returned to classes this fall at University of Wisconsin-Stout with a much greater sense of urgency than when they left last spring.

The reason: After a summer Cooperative Education Program experience, they can’t wait to earn their college diplomas and start their careers in the growing field of digital marketing technology.

Travis and Laube worked in Eagan, Minn., at FindLaw, which is part of Thomson Reuters. The company works to “provide professionals with the intelligence, technology and human expertise they need to find trusted answers.”

As Travis and Laube learned new skills and experienced digital marketing technology firsthand, their passion for the field began to surge.

“I think this industry is crazy exciting just because it is constantly changing,” said Travis. “There are so many factors that go into improving a client's web presence, and staying ahead of the curve and on top in search engines means really thinking outside the box and gaining new perspectives.”

The experience also fueled Laube’s excitement for the field. “I've never been able to walk away from a job and feel so passionate for something like I did when I ended my co-op at FindLaw,” Laube said.

Travis, a junior, and Laube, a senior, landed co-ops at Thomson Reuters almost by design. Company officials helped UW-Stout establish a minor in web technology in 2013 and the Bachelor of Science major in digital marketing technology in 2015.

Thomson Reuters supported the new UW-Stout programs because it needs more professionals in the emerging field, said Craig Yolitz, a UW-Stout alumnus and FindLaw vice president of operations and account management. FindLaw provides integrated marketing solutions to small law firms.

“The goals of the co-op program are really being part of a longer-term talent initiative here at Thomson Reuters. Through our partnership we helped create the program itself. Then we knew we needed to get students interested in the program. The next step was to hire co-op students from the program. Finally and ideally, we want to hire them full time upon graduation,” Yolitz said.

The plan already is working. Laube, who graduates in May, has been hired full time by Thomson Reuters and will begin work in June.

From left, Craig Yolitz, Kaitlin Travis, Taylor Laube and Pat Meuers.Travis and Laube were the first UW-Stout interns from the relatively new major to work at Thomson Reuters, which also employed interns from other universities.

The value of a co-op experience is not lost on Yolitz, a 1985 UW-Stout graduate. He had a co-op at the company and it led to a full-time job — and career — upon graduation.

He, along with 1992 UW-Stout graduate Pat Meuers, helped mentor Travis and Laube. Meuers is a senior director of digital marketing and account management.

Dynamic experiences

Travis and Laube benefited from what Yolitz calls a “real-life learning experience” in the same way that Yolitz benefited from his co-op in the 1980s. They rotated between three areas of digital marketing.

About half of their time was performing actual tasks, such as recommending keywords and performing site audits. “We had some really incredible, constructive feedback,” Travis said.

The other half of their time included training, shadowing team members and attending networking events.

“The digital marketing teams at FindLaw really challenged me to not only expand my technical skill sets but also to develop my soft skills. What I learned makes me love the industry more. Digital marketing isn't confined to traditional marketing boundaries. It's a constant, exciting challenge to think ahead and create innovative strategies,” Travis said.

Travis, of Watertown, also will earn a degree in professional communication and emerging media. Laube, of Eau Claire, is pursuing a double major as well, in cross-media graphics management.

“This career is constantly challenging me and pushing me to help people achieve greatness through their websites. It's fun to see the changes that you've made bring in business for companies,” said Laube, who added that the field is creative because it requires dynamic strategies “to help websites perform better.”

Both thanked Thomson Reuters for the experience.

“Everybody at Thomson Reuters was so supportive in helping us figure out our career interests and encouraged us to step outside our comfort zone,” Laube said.

“Not many corporations out there would take the time to be involved in students' education, from ground-level employees all the way up to the VP,” Travis said.

Thomson Reuters’ relationship with UW-Stout includes the Thomson Reuters Web Development Program Fund at Stout University Foundation.

The Cooperative Education Program at UW-Stout, through Career Services, annually employs about 1,000 students in temporary positions related to their major; along with experience, students receive academic credit and a competitive wage.

“I have to encourage any company to strongly consider co-op students from UW-Stout if they haven’t already,” Yolitz said.



Bottom Photo: From left are Craig Yolitz, UW-Stout alumnus and a company vice president; students Kaitlin Travis and Taylor Laube; and Pat Meuers, a UW-Stout alumna and a digital marketing executive with the company.