Startup partnership helps WSU prepare students for workplace

By Alyssa Patrick, Office of Commercialization

koru-logoSEATTLE – Washington State University is partnering with Koru, a Seattle-based startup that is taking a boot-camp approach to helping students find jobs after college.

“We are pleased to partner with the Koru team as we work hard to prepare our WSU students for the challenges of today’s workplace,” said President Elson S. Floyd.

Working in teams on challenges from companies like zulily, REI and Payscale, students learn skills that often take a year or more to grasp when starting a job. They spend time in companies where they are coached by top-level executives.

They learn skills including understanding the customer, collecting and analyzing data, mastering Excel and customer relations management systems, setting goals and working productively. At the end of the program, they present their plans to executives in the company.

Access to top-level executives

For Justin Oba, a 2014 WSU alumnus who participated in Koru’s June program, learning the hard skills was valuable, but the networking opportunities impacted him most. In fact, it was at a Koru-hosted networking night that Oba met Denise Connors, a vice president at Trupanion pet insurance, who ended up offering him a job two weeks after he completed Koru.

“Koru connects graduates to a different caliber of companies,” Oba said. “Startups need energetic college graduates to come work for them, but it can be hard to find potential employees when you don’t have a big, recognizable name.”

Koru’s co-founder, Kristen Hamilton, brings years of entrepreneurial expertise and connections to the program, giving Koru students access to top-level executives. At the end of Oba’s program, he and his team gave a presentation to a team of zulily employees, including the chief marketing officer.

“WSU gave me an amazing opportunity to push myself academically and socially,” Oba said. “Koru helped me develop and apply those skills in the workplace and connected me to a professional network I wouldn’t have met on my own.”

70 percent of grads find jobs

Since launching in 2013, Koru has held eight programs and sent more than 70 percent of its graduates into jobs.

WSU is joining a group of 13 Koru university partners, including Whitman College, Georgetown University, Pomona College and University of Southern California.

The partnership between academic institutions and Koru helps the organization connect to students through campus visits and the universities’ career services. It opens up scholarship opportunities for seniors and recent graduates who may need financial assistance to participate in the program, which costs around $2,500.

Launched a year ago, Koru is expanding to San Francisco in September. WSU seniors and recent graduates can apply for one of Koru’s upcoming Seattle programs:

September program: Sept. 3-19
October program: accepting early applications
November program: accepting early applications


Mary Wack, WSU vice provost for Undergraduate Education, 509-335-8044,

Alyssa Patrick, WSU Economic Development & External Affairs communications, 206-219-2427,