UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of Penn State’s 2021 spring commencement activities, Samuel Kraus will represent the organizational leadership major from the School of Labor and Employment Relations in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts as the student marshal.

Kraus, who lives and works in Barcelona, Spain, will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership through Penn State World Campus.

“When I was looking into finishing my degree, reputation was important,” he said. “As someone who works abroad and plans to continue doing so, Penn State is an instantly recognizable name with a storied reputation. World Campus has been providing a quality online education for a long time — it’s not a new venture, but a tried-and-true program.”

Kraus grew up in California and Texas and has also lived in Chicago and New York City. He swapped the stress of New York City for the slower pace of Barcelona for one summer and has been there ever since. He is a client success manager for SharpLaunch, a commercial real estate marketing software company in the “software as a service” (SaaS) industry.  

SharpLaunch’s marketing tool is used by anyone in the commercial real estate space who needs to easily create websites for their properties. Kraus said they also offer marketing analytics specifically focused on commercial real estate. He explained that his position is essentially an extension of account management.

“In the past, a company like IBM would go to another corporation and sell a multimillion-dollar software, then that company would have IBM forever,” explained Kraus. “Now it’s more common to pay monthly for services, like you do with Netflix or Hulu, rather than paying one giant fee up front. Since you’re paying monthly, there’s increased accountability to your clients, which is where my role comes in.”

Kraus onboards clients using the company’s tool, then helps them successfully utilize it. He provides insights and tips, helps resolve issues or problems, then ultimately helps clients expand their contract as needed.

“I love working in tech and in a client-facing role. It’s a really interesting position,” he said. “I have no intention of looking for new positions, but I’m proud to be a Penn State graduate. It’s going to positively reflect on my future no matter what I do.”  

Kraus had quite a few college credits before joining Penn State to complete his degree.

“I’ve always been nervous that not having a completed degree on my résumé was going to be a hindrance — I don’t know for sure that it has negatively impacted me, but there’s no saying how many people have passed over my job applications just because I didn’t have a degree. Completing the degree was important to me, too.”

Organizational leadership appealed to Kraus for its business and real-life applications. He said he has been pleasantly surprised at just how much OLEAD relates to real organizational issues anyone could face in their careers. He added, “It’s a general organizational degree that really does have a lot of value for someone working in a business.”

Kraus said coming back to school as an adult and as someone with university experience in the past was totally different — in a good way.

“You have really good experience behind you, especially if you’re working or have been working. Whatever major you choose, challenge yourself and try to think about the classes in the context of the work you do. The whole idea of a liberal arts education is to be well-rounded and to touch as many different areas of study as you can," he said.

Although he started his degree before the pandemic, Kraus added that he believes World Campus is the future of remote learning.

“I would say to anyone who’s thinking about continuing their education through Penn State World Campus that you’re taking the same classes with top-notch professors. I’m really thankful for the program. Reputation usually belies quality, and that has borne out,” he said.

Find out more about this program on the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership website.