We recently spoke with Ryan Kinkade, a Penn State World Campus alum, who shared how earning a degree helped him advance his career. Keep reading to learn more about Ryan’s career path and how his degree has made an impact on his position:
Degree and graduation year: Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences and Technology, 2016
Current hometown: Beaverton, Oregon
Current career and workplace: I work at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR as a marketing director. Specifically, I work on projects for Nike.com. My job is to find new tools, provide insight into how Nike.com is doing, and research industry trends we should be aware of.
What does a typical work day look like for you? A lot of my job is research related—looking for opportunities. What did we do that worked? What didn’t work? What’s something new we should try? What are others in our industry doing? And what moonshot can we pitch and get funded that will change the way we do business? Occasionally, my work day involves hanging out with athletes, playing soccer, and enjoying a lot of the perks of working at Nike.
How did you get into the field you are currently working in? I started my career at Nike almost 10 years ago. I started as an application engineer working on markdown optimization software. Then, I moved into project management for a large ERP implementation. After that, I tried product management for digital communications. That led me to my current opportunity on the marketing team.
How has Penn State World Campus impacted your career? I wouldn’t have my current job without it! Even though I was an internal candidate, jobs I was interested in required a college degree. It was especially important for areas of Nike that were new to me and I was unknown to them. I needed that degree to even get an interview!
What were some of the challenges you faced when you were a World Campus student? Like many Penn State World Campus students, my priorities were family, work, and then school. I did course work remotely from Japan, Brazil, Mexico, China, and more. A majority of my time spent online for school was after 9 p.m. when my family was asleep. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice family time for school, so I sacrificed a whole lot of sleep instead.
Do you stay connected with Penn State? How do you stay connected? I’ve never been to a Penn State campus, so it was a little bit challenging to feel connected when it was all done. I have a degree hanging on the wall, but Pennsylvania is a long way from Oregon. To stay connected, I joined the Penn State World Campus Alumni Association. When there are prospective students for the IST program, I’ll reach out to them and see if they have any questions. It’s rewarding to help students with questions they have and know that quite a few of them have started classes and are on their way to big things!
What is some advice that you would give to current World Campus students? Be organized! You must plan ahead more than you do in a traditional college environment. There aren’t set times to read, sit in class, watch videos, or do course work. You’ll need to plan out your weeks and be self-motivated. Print out that syllabus, set reminders, or whatever works for you—but find your routine and stay on top of things.