When students come through the Business Management and Business Technology programs at North Central Kansas Technical College, the ultimate goal is to receive an associate’s degree.

The end result, which is an Associate’s of Applied Science and General Business, must be completed working through the curriculum instructors Jennifer Younger and Jill Moeder have helped put together the last two years. It’s a process the two have combined their experience to build on the success of the program at the Hays campus. It continues to grow.

“In our broad theory of when a student comes in and they leave in two years with an associate’s degree in general business, that’s just our wide, broad view overcap of how we want students to come out,” said Younger, an instructor of Business Technology. “We want them to know this. We want them to have it (in their head). When you think like an employer it just separates you and it makes you better.”

The concept is to have the students immediately ready to join the workforce after they have been through the programs. To do so, Younger and Moeder each prepare students, one through getting them well versed in the use of the computers and the other in understanding the business concept in general.

“In business management, yes, in the business world you do use the computer, but my tool that I give the students is themselves,” Moeder said. “I give them the knowledge and the theoretical foundations that they’re going to need to apply into any business that they go into. Whether it’s a mechanics shop or retail shop, or they’re going to work for somebody in some business type field. There’s a lot of knowledge that I part on the students and the students themselves are the tools that I build and I provide them with different theoretical tools to put in their own tool box when they get into business. This is why our programs pair so well together. Jennifer has the physical tool and I have the cognitive tool.”

It’s a process the NCK Tech instructors have built together over working in classrooms next door to each other during the last two years. Younger is in her third year as an instructor, while Moeder is in her second.

“We hope our students walk away with the technical skills to take into an employer and help them be successful with what they’re told to do,” Moeder said. “But we also want them to have the understanding that, this is why your employer is telling you what to do and how to do it… It’s just taking that understanding a step further which is why (Business Technology and Business Management) work so well together. Whichever the student starts first, whether it’s Jennifer’s program or mine, it flows very well together. We see it in industry all the time that these are just skills that people need.”

Like many of the programs through NCK Tech, the business management and technology programs get a lot of non-traditional students (those who have been out of high school for two or more years). It’s something that gives the instructors an opportunity to watch many of their students follow NCK Tech by going right into the business world. There are many who will go on to work toward a four-year degree, but Younger and Moeder’s goal is to have them ready to find a job after NCK Tech.

“I would say it’s kind of split,” Younger said. “Some of them move on for a four-year degree. Several of them just begin their working careers, especially when they have both programs. They can move up a company because they have the hands-on knowledge and they have the business smarts that comes along with it.”

Along with an associate’s degree students work toward in the programs, they also can earn certification for several different computer programs such as Microsoft Specialist Certifications. In Business Technology, Younger has a student who is No. 1 in the state of Kansas in Word and with Excel. She has another student who is No. 2 in Excel. There is a national competition that will take place in Atlanta this summer for Microsoft Office programs in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others. One NCK Tech student has qualified to attend.

“I think for both of us, we’re both in positions now to make the curriculum our own and put our own stamp on what we’re teaching our students,” Moeder said. “I know that in Business Management we’ve made a lot of changes to what we’re teaching students and how we’re teaching it. In general, there’s a lot of “in the weeds” kind of changes that we’re both undergoing to kind of help not only increase the value of the program, but make the student more well-rounded when they come out of our programs.”

Article written by Michael Kissinger