Most students view their college or university as a springboard that will catapult them into their future careers. NDSU alumna Katie Zueger did not think of NDSU like that.
Graduating from NDSU in 2017 with a degree in apparel, retail merchandising and design and a minor in business, Zueger is now taking on multiple roles both on and off the NDSU campus.
Some of her many titles include merchandising graduate student and Assistant Clothing and Gift Buyer for the NDSU Bookstore.
After interacting with Zueger, it is clear that her passion for NDSU and its students is just about as potent as her North Dakotan accent.
Emily Wotzka (EW): Tell me about your new job as the Assistant Clothing and Gift Buyer at the NDSU Bookstore.
Katie Zueger (KZ): I started working full-time at the NDSU Bookstore as the Assistant in Clothing and Gift and the offsite sales manager in October 2017.
When the football team made it to Frisco, a team of us from the Bookstore went down to Texas and sold merchandise for two days, including at the Pep Fest. I had never been to Frisco before so that was really fun, especially since we were able to go to the game.
EW: What is the graduate school program you are involved in at NDSU?
KZ: In August 2017, I started the grad program called the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP IDEA) and it is basically a master’s degree in merchandising.
It is an online program that collaborates with other colleges in the Great Plains area to teach the program. I’m in my second semester and I am really enjoying it.
EW: What is the graduate program like here at NDSU?
KZ: Having everything online is much different than taking in-class lectures, but we do discussion boards weekly and give each other feedback, so that makes up for not having a discussion in a classroom.
The program is great because although it is through NDSU, you can live anywhere and complete it; you don’t have to be in Fargo.
Another aspect of the program that I enjoy is that everyone seems really interested in our courses and wants to further their education and careers.
The grad program has students of all ages, so it’s interesting to learn about everyone and what they are currently doing and have done with their careers.
EW: Do you think NDSU, particularly the apparel, design and hospitality management (ADHM) department, prepared you for the real world?
KZ: During undergrad, I tried to stay decently involved in different organizations on campus.
I think that our courses for retail merchandising cover many of the bases of merchandising, so you get a good feel for all of the different possibilities.
Personally, I don’t feel like you can ever really prepare yourself for the real world. I feel like you just get thrown in and learn as you go. At least that’s what I’ve been doing.
EW: How has the Bookstore, in particular, prepared you for a career in the fashion industry?
KZ: I started working at the Bookstore in May of my sophomore year because they came and spoke at one of my classes about the different retail opportunities they provide.
Before working full-time at the Bookstore, I was able to work with our merchandise system, website system and work on visual displays.
They allow you to be as involved in the retail process as you want, so you can feel like you get more out of the job than just being a sales associate and providing customer service.
EW: What has been the most challenging and most exciting part of graduate school/starting your career?
KZ: The most exciting part about starting my new career is that I really enjoy what I’m doing and where I am working.
I have so many friends that complain about work, and I feel like I never feel negativity toward my work. This may sound cheesy, but I feel like I’m growing even more as an adult and to me, that’s really exciting.
The biggest change for me since graduation has been adjusting to being up every day for work at 8:30 (a.m.).
EW: What are your future career goals?
KZ: My career goals are constantly changing.
Part of the reason I chose to do the graduate program is because I still am not sure what I want to do in the long run.
I’m really interested in being a buyer, and I am currently working toward that goal.