Kent State's Supportive Community Empowered Alumna to Pursue Career in Tech
At Nationwide Insurance, Kent State alumna McKenna Gammon, ’22, works at the intersection of design, technology and communication as a software engineer.
The technical skills and project management experience she developed as an Emerging Media and Technology major first caught the eye of her employer during her junior year of college.
“Nationwide reached out to me on Handshake (a job and internship search engine for college students) and recognized the skills I had gained here and thought I would be a good fit for the internship,” she recalls. “I went along with that, and that turned into me getting a full-time job after I graduated.”
One class that especially prepared Gammon for full-time work at Nationwide was the Emerging Media and Technology capstone course, Interdisciplinary Projects. In it, students work in teams on a technology challenge for a real business or organization. Over the years, projects have included developing a responsive streaming app for a community television station, creating digital interactive cake designer for a bakery, conceptualizing new website features for Kent State University departments and more.
As students dive deep into these projects over the course of a semester, they learn not just to apply hard skills like coding and development; they learn to communicate about technology with business leaders and professionals who work outside of technology departments.
“The intersection of technology and communication is important in the real world because technology is always growing and changing,” Gammon says. “Today, I work with clients on a daily basis and need to know how to communicate with them about technology, skills used for those technologies and take feedback about that.”
When she was looking at colleges and universities as a high school student, Gammon says the way Kent State’s Emerging Media and Technology major fused these emerging disciplines stood out.
“There were not really other programs out there like it,” she recalls. “It spoke to both my creative and technological side.”
Even though she always was interested in technology, Gammon says Kent State was the first place where she felt empowered to pursue it.
“In high school I never thought I was smart enough to do stuff with technology and didn’t really have the resources to do so,” she says. “The Emerging Media and Technology program gave me skills I needed to be able to work with those things and create a career out of it.”
Her faculty and academic advisers played an important role in her academic and professional development.
“The faculty and advisers here really lived out Kent State’s motto of ‘You Belong Here,’” Gammon says. “They made me feel very comfortable and confident in my skills and were there to push me to be my best at all times, to encourage me to keep going in this career, no matter how hard it gets.”
Today, she feels fortunate to have found an employer like Nationwide that aligns with her values of community and giving back — two things she also enjoyed about Kent State University.
“When I was at Kent, I was in Greek life, so that gave me a ton of connections to be able to meet people inside and outside of my major, and (the community) really supported me to be my best self,” Gammon says. “I see that in Nationwide, too, people pushing me to be my best.”