WSU co-op paved the way for grad's new career
Andrea Denton had already finished active duty in the Marine Corps and was working full time in the legal field when she decided to make an abrupt change.
At 24 years old and married with a little girl, Denton quit her job and enrolled at Wichita State University.
“While working as a receptionist at a law firm, I met the wife of one of the attorneys, who was a reporter for KAKE-TV,” she said. “I had never even thought of becoming a reporter, but meeting her made me realize that I had always loved the news, and this is exactly the area I was interested in pursuing.”
Denton, a New York native, said she looked into Wichita State and realized it had a great communication program. With bills to pay while she pursued her degree, Denton quickly took advantage of Wichita State’s Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning Program.
“While at WSU, I was very lucky in taking part in several co-op experiences,” she said. “I had quit my full-time job, and it worked out well that I was able to continue to earn an income, getting experience in the field I was pursuing, while going to school full time.”
Denton worked briefly for a news and sports update company, writing short news or sports clips and then voicing them in a small recording booth.
After doing that for one semester, she was offered another co-op job at KAKE-TV running the camera during newscasts. Before long, Denton was offered an associate producer position at the station.
“One thing led to another, and I was producing my own show even prior to graduation,” she said. “I didn't sleep for months. These jobs were instrumental to my career. Obviously, it offered me an opportunity to work in my field even prior to graduation.”
After graduation in 2000, Denton continued to work at KAKE for a few months, when she was offered a producer position at a larger market, WAVY-TV in Portsmouth, Va.
Four years into her news career, Denton started looking in another direction. She had two children now, and the hours and stress of the job made family life difficult.
But her news background didn’t go to waste. She went to work for a government contract called USIS as an investigator. She did that for several years, moving into management positions and doing work in the operations department, running several programs. She has also worked on several internal newsletters and is editor for the newsletter for the overall Investigative Services division.
“My skills in communication have served me well in this company,” Denton said.
Denton said she enjoyed her time at Wichita State and that the Elliott School of Communication was just the right balance of size and experience.
“The staff truly cared about the success of each and every student, and that definitely made the difference in my success of being a full-time student, employee and mom.”
And she credits her co-op experiences with shaping the career she has today.
“I don't think there is any way I would have been so successful so quickly without the opportunities offered through WSU's co-op program,” Denton said.