By Sydney Taylor, Journalism Multimedia Production ’20

When Washington State University senior Sam Schmitke identified a way to enhance one of her communication courses last fall, she created an opportunity for Edward R. Murrow College of Communication students to gain real-world skills they could apply in their future workplaces.

Schmitke enrolled in Rebecca Cooney’s Strategic Communications class in fall 2019 and began working with classmates to develop campaign strategies to promote their mock company. They created social media posts and advertisements for their campaigns each week. Throughout the semester, students in the class worked with Google Ads to create advertisements for their companies and monitored the impact of their ads on targeted audiences using Google Analytics.

Early in the semester, Cooney noted that attendance on Fridays was low. Schmitke approached Cooney with a potential solution to the attendance problem. Schmitke suggested that Cooney offer students the opportunity to become certified in relevant applications that could be used in class and in students’ future careers.

For the remainder of the semester, Cooney helped certify more than 60 students in Google Analytics Individual Qualification for Beginners while offering extra credit each Friday they participated. She allowed students to work on certification in class and test for certification on their own time.

“The reality is so many people don’t want to take the time, or they’re scared,” Cooney said. “This is a way to break down those barriers and give people incentive to complete the certification, and that’s all Sam. It was all her.”

Due to the success of her pilot program last fall, Cooney incorporated the certification lessons into her curriculum for spring semester.

This semester Schmitke is working with Cooney to get students certified in the beginning and advanced Google Analytics courses, and in Google Ad Display and Google Ad Search. Schmitke teaches the lessons every other Friday and created a personalized study guide for the Google Analytics exam.

“It’s cool to say, ‘Hey, I certified a group of 30 students in four different things,’” Schmitke said. “It’s a rewarding feeling. It’s really cool.”

Rebecca Cooney’s three student CCE leads.

In addition to assisting with these micro-certification workdays, Schmitke is one of three student leads in Cooney’s Media Strategies and Techniques for Public Relations course. Schmitke guides a group of seven students in creating social media posts and public relations content for the Latah Alliance on Mental Illness. Schmitke also serves as a liaison between the students and LAMI.

“It’s all real time, dealing with real issues, real client stuff. Then adjusting as it comes,” Cooney said. “It’s totally working.”

Schmitke plans to continue working in public relations after graduation in May. She will be working with Cooney over the summer for Online Murrow. Through the Dean’s Excellence Scholarship, Schmitke will have the opportunity to learn new skills and create experiential learning opportunities for future Murrow College students.