It was a cold December day in 2007 when I, along with thousands of other UW-Madison graduates, was ready to take on the world after what seemed like decades of late nights, daily Starbucks visits, overpriced textbooks, and countless post-its to survive my undergraduate career. Despite this gumption, my premature ambition to becoming a so-called adult got a bit tarnished...
The time of my graduation aligned perfectly with the start of the recession.
Nevertheless, after nine months of various part-time jobs and endless searching for my grown-up career, I finally landed a dream job in Chicago. I worked as an interior designer in the Loop. I was so excited. Not only did I get to go to work everyday doing something I loved, but also I was proud I didn't give up on something I really wanted.
Six weeks later a reality check was sent my way...I was laid off with the other recent hires I stared with due to the recession.
Although disappointing, such a turn in events was an opportunity to explore other options as to what I could do professionally. That being said, I took an unpaid internship supporting marketing efforts for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Illinois Chapter, a non-profit organization catered to sustainable design and green building. My internship not only made it possible to continue working in the design industry, but also ignited my interest in marketing and communications. In this position I was responsible for writing and editing articles for the Chapter’s newsletter, implementing an email campaign, and developing marketing materials.
Looking back, this unexpected, yet valuable experience was the catalyst to my career, which led to my interest in Medill’s IMC program.
Following my internship, I found employment with several architecture firms in Chicago as a Marketing Coordinator, which further underlined my interest to pursue a career in marketing. In the midst of preparing a large proposal for a local project, a firm’s principal noticed I was getting caught up in meeting informational conditions and formatting requirements rather than taking a step back to analyze the overall concept and purpose of the proposal itself. Although it was necessary to follow specific guidelines, he provided me with the best advice I have received thus far in my career.
“Focus more on telling a story,” he said.
Something immediately clicked within me!
My goal was still to develop a proposal that clearly and concisely presented our qualifications. However, I shifted my focus to strategically advocate for my firm.
This involved developing a persuasive message with an underlying theme, describing the firm’s accountability as a trusted partner, and visually outlining the design team’s approach to develop the best results for the client. This change in thought not only helped streamline the proposal process, but also helped the firm win the project.
Having survived some twists and turns in my career path, it lead me to where I am today. Currently, I work as a Senior Marketing & Communications Specialist for a Madison-based construction company and am a proud student of Northwestern University's IMC graduate program. What this means does not necessarily explain how I spend my time. Instead, where I am today represents persistence, hard work, and a bit of optimism, which have been very helpful in overcoming challenges to...