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Joe Eastin speaks at the 10-year anniversary of the Eastin Center for Career Readiness.

Thousands of success stories: For the last decade, Eastin Center for Career Readiness has helped many OSU students

Friday, June 21, 2024

Media Contact: Terry Tush | Director, Marketing and Communications | 405-744-2703 |

Max Rauner finally got the job interview he always wanted. Now what was he supposed to do?

The senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a resume chock-full of on-campus volunteering, selections to the Oklahoma State University President’s Honor Roll and industry know-how thanks to the top-notch faculty in the Spears School of Business Department of Management Science and Information Systems.

But now he would have to sit face-to-face with four industry professionals and get peppered with questions for two hours, which is an intimidating prospect for a student who last wore a suit at his high school prom.

Rauner’s head started to spin. What questions are they going to ask? Should he wear a tie? Are there things he should definitely mention? Are there things he definitely shouldn’t mention? How does he make sure he stands out while still coming across professionally?

Luckily, Rauner remembered he had an ace up his sleeve — the Eastin Center for Career Readiness.

He reached out to his Eastin Center career coach, Mike Stump, who calmed his nerves and ran him through a couple of rounds of interview prep. The two had worked together for years crafting Rauner’s resume, applying to internships and learning the soft skills of business designed to give him an edge over other college graduates entering the workforce. When Rauner walked into his interview, he couldn’t have felt more prepared and energized.

Max Rauner
Max Rauner is the Eastin Center for Career Readiness' latest success story. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native used the center to sharpen his career readiness skills, which led to a full-time job.

“It felt like I had a cheat code,” said Rauner, using a video game reference to describe his newfound confidence. “It’s almost like I knew every question they were going to ask me, and I had a story inside my head that I wanted to give them for each answer. Without Mike’s guidance, there’s no way I would have even gotten the interview, let alone performed as well as I did.”

Rauner got the job, of course. His drive to succeed matched up with his first-class OSU education thanks largely to the expertise of the MSIS faculty, and the Eastin Center helped him showcase himself in a way that set him apart.

That day, he joined the ever-growing list of Eastin Center success stories. The folks at the Eastin Center aren’t much for bragging about themselves, but they do a remarkable job preparing students to step into the professional world. In 2024, the center is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the thousands of students who have had their trajectories changed.

From 2020-23 alone, the Eastin Center reviewed 5,265 student resumes, hosted 2,040 mock interviews and 3,647 one-on-one coaching appointments. In fall 2022, the Eastin team piloted a new career readiness appointment focusing on steps students should take at OSU to be career-ready upon graduation. Over 500 students have participated so far, and 91% reported feeling more confident about their career path following the session.

Nearly 5,000 Spears Business students attended an OSU career fair from 2020-23, and they were able to highlight their new skills to employers who are often instantly impressed with the preparation level of the Spears Business students they encounter.

“There is a difference,” said Spencer Nast, a Texas Christian University alumnus and a recruiter for the Sewell Automotive Group in Texas. “There is a noticeable difference in the quality of student that goes through the Spears School of Business, and that specifically works with the Eastin Center, versus another student at OSU or at other universities.

“Many schools don’t prepare their students for taking that next step. They don’t teach them how to dress professionally or how to have a conversation with an employer, or even how to ask those tough questions. The Eastin Center just has a pulse on the industry, on the real world. That’s why I believe they’re so effective.”

That effectiveness isn’t an accident. It started with a vision from a Spears Business alumnus who wanted to find a way to give OSU students the extra tools they needed. Joe Eastin, founder of web-based contractor and management system supplier ISN, knew that OSU students were every bit as smart as their peers at other schools. Still, he wanted to find a way to help the university’s alumni stand out in terms of their professional demeanor and preparedness.

His initial gift in 2014 got the ball rolling for the center, and his leadership as the chair of its advisory board has helped the center evolve and grow over the years. That evolutionary process is one of the center’s key features, which heavily involves its alumni board and businesses across the region to guide its approach.

The board meets regularly to sharpen the Eastin Center’s focus and ensure it remains at the forefront of business. The employers educate the Eastin Center staff about their needs and what makes a worker stand out within their organization. This approach has helped the Eastin Center develop into one of the leading job preparation centers in the country.

“We want to do something slightly different here at the Spears School of Business,” Eastin said. “In no way is the Eastin Center trying to replace the core technical skills that are required in business today; it is to be in conjunction with what you’ve learned at Oklahoma State. Without having both — the technical skills and the soft skills — you’re truly limiting your ability to expand your career potential.”

One giant evolutionary step the Eastin Center took was requiring Spears Business students to use its core services. Starting in 2018, career-readiness courses BADM 2111 (Career Planning for Business Success) and BADM 3111 (Professional Development for Business Success) became a part of the core curriculum of the college, and one-on-one coaching appointments with Eastin Center professionals became a graduation requirement for business students.

Since that step, 20,159 Spears Business students have taken BADM 2111 and/or BADM 3111. Those classes and the one-on-one coaching have helped OSU students network with employers, refine their communication skills and create career goals that align with their major, interests and strengths.

Former Eastin Center director Dr. Abbey Davis credits the curriculum update and graduation requirement as the key to the center’s impact because it introduced thousands of new students to the skills needed to succeed.

“We know that to develop new skills and to develop confidence, you have to repeatedly perform that task,” Davis said. “I can’t tell you how to be good in an interview. I can’t tell you how to write a good resume, we have to do it together. And so that’s what we do, and we do it in a way that forces students to really develop that muscle. And what I love is at the end of every semester, I’ll have a student come up to me and say, ‘Abbey, I got an internship because you made me apply for one.’ I love hearing that.”

Davis was essential in bringing Stump to the Eastin Center in 2018 after his 35-year career in human resources. A seasoned vet of the corporate world, Stump had been a part of thousands of job interviews, performance reviews, layoffs and promotions. In other words, he is exactly the type of person Davis envisioned lending advice to Spears Business students.

OSU football coach Mike Gundy with Joe Eastin.
OSU dignitaries from across campus came out to honor Joe Eastin on the 10th anniversary of the Eastin Center for Career Readiness, including head football coach Mike Gundy, left.

The Eastin Center career coaches, led by center director Robin Darmon and manager Susanne Badiyan, host outreach events each month and they split up the Spears Business student body by major in order to develop an individual plan for each student.

It starts with resume reviews, mock interviews and teaching the students how to search for internships and fulltime jobs. The coaches reinforce the skills learned in the BADM 2111 and 3111 courses, including things like the S.T.A.R. Method (the acronym stands for situation, task, action and result) of answering behavioral-based questions in a sequential and organized way. Constructive feedback is a big key to the Eastin Center process, and Stump said it’s essential that students know the advice is coming from a loving place.

“The joke around here is, that’s the secret sauce that we have,” Stump said of the combination of the required BADM courses and the Eastin Center coaches. “I think it’s a big deal because it ends up giving our kids a huge advantage. The analogy that I like to use is that we’re teaching these students to fish in order to give them lifelong career-readiness skills as opposed to handing them a fish so they can get by today. These are skills they’ll be able to use two, five and 10 years down the road. Our graduates will have a distinct advantage there.”

Stump keeps a folder in his desk drawer full of handwritten cards and tokens of appreciation from students he’s worked with over the past four and a half years. One of those thank-you cards is from Rauner. The two developed a bond during their time as mentor and mentee that started back when Rauner didn’t even know what jobs an MIS degree could land him.

Partly because of that relationship, Rauner ended up joining the Eastin Center staff as a student worker to help other Spears Business students navigate this daunting space. Now, he’s the one in the advisor’s seat helping students craft their resumes and learning the soft skills of the business world. It’s helped him gain a new appreciation for the center’s mission and the impact it’s had on so many OSU students.

“Looking back now, I think the Eastin Center is the best thing about OSU,” Rauner said. “It’s done more for me than any of my classes. It’s prepared me for what actually goes on in the business world. It’s helped me understand what really happens and what it takes to nail a job interview and to get a job – all the stuff that you don’t necessarily get in classes.

“If you go to the Eastin Center, you ask those questions, they’re going to teach you.”

Story by: Terry Tush | Engage@Spears magazine
Photo by: Devin Flores

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