Jacob Cook didn't start his college career at Northwest Missouri State University, but he got here as fast as he could.
"I started my freshman year at another college back in Iowa where I'm from, and I transferred down here in my second semester," he said. "I got into digital media and found out that wasn't the program that I wanted to be in."
Cook decided that Northwest's Bachelor of Science in Business Technology program would be a better fit for the rest of his undergraduate career.
"I had chosen digital media because I did a lot of that type of stuff in high school and thought I'd like it, but when I got here, it wasn't what I wanted to do with the rest of my life," he said.
"I changed over to business technology because it's such a universal degree."
Coming to Northwest held a special significance for Cook – both of his parents and his brother are alumni. Additionally, the quality of the university's faculty played a major role in his decision to transfer.
"I heard that the teachers really have a discussion with you," he said. "Northwest is big enough, yet small enough, so you can feel like you fit in. The teachers are always willing to help you. There are study sessions and tutors. They truly care about your education."
As Cook completes the work on his business technology degree, he also holds down a job in the IT department at a hospital in his hometown. He enjoys the work and looks forward to investigating better career opportunities in business and/or technology after he completes his degree in May 2021.
"IT is a rapidly changing field, and you never know what challenges you will be faced with every day," he said. "With this business technology degree, it's not just focused on one thing. There's a wide variety of jobs you can work in from the business side or the technology side, but I'll probably stay in IT for the near future."
Cook is taking a management information systems course this semester. He completed an operations management class last spring as well as other classes focused on software and hardware.
"I've liked classes that cover the business side of things," he said.
He credits the international business class with expanding his knowledge of global practices.
"I knew what international business was, but I enjoyed diving in and digging into the deeper details of what it entails for a company to expand its markets overseas, and how the overseas markets play into ours."
Business law was another class that stood out to Cook, who gained a better sense of the interplay between a company and the legal system.
"You have to know what all there is for the legal end of business, how a business can operate and what different types of laws come into play," he said.
Along with these classes, Northwest's Bachelor of Science in Business Technology program has provided Cook with the training and skills he will need in his career. This class was called Digital Communications.
"We dealt with different Microsoft Office applications — some of those ones that you don't normally deal with on a day-to-day basis," he said. "We used different programs to build different graphics and charts."
Jumping back and forth between business and technology requires a lot of mental dexterity, according to Cook. He advises prospective students to know this going in.
"They're going to have to be open-minded for sure because it's a very broad major," he said. "With business technology, you have an array of different jobs that you will be able to handle. It will take a lot of flexibility. "
He notes that those who don't feel technologically inclined should not be so quick to count themselves out of this program.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be with computers," he said. "It could be any technology that improves production. So even if you're not good with computers, but you're good with something else that helps with manufacturing or business, that could be considered technology as well."
Staying on Top
Cook's parents could not be prouder of their son for choosing a degree program with so much career potential.
"They're very supportive of me choosing this one because they know that I like business," he said. "I was involved in Future Business Leaders of America while in high school. So, I've been around business classes and dealt with businesses in the conferences I attended."
Cook is looking forward to putting his knowledge and skill sets to work in IT and beyond in the years to come, thanks to the versatility of the program's subject matter.
"It's something that won't get outdated just because it has the technology side of things," he said. "It's growing every day. Even if I don't like this IT job, then I can go on to the business side of things or find something else because this is a degree that every business is looking for."
Northwest Missouri State University has proven to Cook that it is committed to educating its students in a way that truly prepares them for careers after graduation. He knows any prospective student will see this commitment from their first interactions with the university.
"[The school is] working extremely hard to make sure that students are succeeding, and it's getting the best information to us in the best possible way that it can," he said. "[The school leaders are] on top of things. They want to bring in more students. They want students to succeed. It's a great school to be a part of."
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