By Ansley Brackin
The Wesley Foundation at Kennesaw State University is helping to solve a very common problem that graduates face, especially those majoring in a creative field. The job world tends to seek the impossible: recent college graduates with career experience.
With that in mind, KSU Wesley Director Evan Deyoung and Creative Director Nick Smith created a program that pairs the marketing and advertising needs of local churches and businesses with students seeking job field experience before graduating college.
Before joining the KSU Wesley team, Smith became inspired by an art ministry that aided in finding job experience for current students while completing his degree in Advertising at the University of Georgia. When DeYoung expressed a desire to better connect KSU’s Wesley Foundation with the rest of the school and community, Smith suggested forming a similar program as their outlet of outreach.
Smith and Deyoung started by visiting churches and businesses to see what they needed assistance with, and found that many of their needs fall into the categories of computer science, marketing, and design.
After identifying projects, the duo offers the tasks to students in the appropriate areas of expertise. Program participants so far have created sermon series graphics, promotional materials, ministry logos, and other forms of creative media that can be seen at ksuwesley.org/creative.
Before students take on a job they meet with Smith to discuss an appropriate rate to charge. Smith believes this is a very important piece to entering the job market and gaining experience. Recent graduates are often expected to complete work for free, then struggle to find their monetary worth when they first begin job seeking.
“If we don’t help equip them to be good at what they want to do, not just be good campus ministers, then we are not doing our job,” Deyoung explains.
Those interested in the program are not required to participate in the Wesley Foundation, but they hope those who go through the program feel connected and cared for by the ministry.
“We want to give students viable job experience, and base the program around the job and not the foundation,” Smith says.
The team stresses that, despite its outward appearance, the program is not a business, but an outreach ministry. While outreach is typically seen as community service, collecting food and repairing houses, this ministry focuses on cleaning up a more digital front lawn in the form of website and marketing development.
“I think we tend to think along traditional lines, but now the church is a little more organic,” Deyoung believes. “I think we need to think outside of the box for ways to reach out to people.”
Connecting college students with local creative jobs also bridges a gap between generations. Smith finds it “helps give millennials a voice and a better ability to reach out to others” across multiple facets of diversity.
Deyoung and Smith encourage other campus ministries to provide similar opportunities, but suggest taking “small bites and approach it slowly,” to ensure that it does not overtake the resources of the entire ministry.