Major: Life Sciences Communication
Certificates: Digital Studies & Global Health
- Interview #1 - Summer 2018
- Interview #2 - Fall 2018
- Interview #3 - Winter 2019
- Interview #4 - Spring 2019
How does it feel to be done with college?
I don’t think it’s really set in yet. I think when it will actually set in is the fall when everyone else is going back and I’m still doing what I’ve been doing all summer.
What have you been up to this summer?
I started working for a small, strategic communications agency in Waukesha, WI called MorganMyers the Monday after commencement. The company does marketing, PR, and advertising with a focus in agriculture, business to business, and consumer food.
I have an associate role there and while it’s a pretty defined role, I do get to do a variety of things depending on the needs of the day. I might be drafting a news article or press release one day or copyediting something another day or working on web work another day. I do a lot of social media execution, so posting on social media, drafting social media editorial calendars, things like that. I also work with two clients, so I spend time managing the client relationship.
Right now, I’m working with the Illinois Farm Families coalition and planning an event for foodie influencers and farmers to come and enjoy a farm to table dinner in urban Chicago.
Tell me about how you ended up at MorganMyers.
I had my eye on this company since freshman year of college. I applied for an internship here during college and didn’t get it, but wanted to see if there was a possibility they’d have a position for me after graduation. I had a couple of other offers from other companies, but wanted to know if MorganMyers was even an option. They didn’t have any positions posted, but I reached out to them and asked if there was any possibility of a position opening up and they actually wrote back to me with an offer. They had someone leaving and knew they were going to need client support and help with new clients they were bringing in.
I got the offer in mid-November. I was really hesitant about taking an offer so early because you never know what’s out there, but this was a company I really wanted to to work for. In February, I started doing 5-10 hours of freelance work for them, so when I started full-time in May, I was ready to come in full force.
What drew you to MorganMyers in particular?
The one thing I really like about this company (and something that I wish I could go back and inquire about with every company I interviewed or talked with) is how they lay out their career development. It’s very clearly laid out here. They have clear expectations for each step in your career. Every other day I’m offered at least one small opportunity to advance my knowledge in the industry and learn something new.
Were you nervous about the quick transition from college to working full-time?
Oh yeah. I was really excited, but also really nervous. For one thing, MorganMyers has a lot of really seasoned professionals working there; some have been there 25-30 years. So not only was I new to the agency, but I’m right out of college too. I’d also never had an internship at a marketing agency. I’d always had corporate or non-profit internships. I didn’t know how to bill time or do all these different things. But everyone here has been really helpful in getting me acclimated and I feel like I’m fitting into the culture very well.
How had Digital Studies been helpful to you so far?
A lot of companies are looking to increase their digital capabilities and just having the certificate and being able to talk about specific coursework that I wouldn’t have taken otherwise has been really helpful. Having the background to talk about the digital space coherently and intelligently is something I attribute to the Digital Studies Certificate. Specifically, I talk about LIS 351 a lot and the skills I gained from that course in web development. Knowing how websites work on the back-end has made it easier to collaborate with developers.
Is there anything you wish you’d known before you graduated or have realized since you started working that would be helpful for others to know?
That 9-5 is a lie. It might be an agency world thing, but you’re here until the work gets done. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s fun work. I wish I would have asked more questions, not just about professional development structure, but also about things that come up everyday. Like interactions with clients or how to interact with your supervisor.
I also wish I would have taken a little more time between graduation and starting full-time to travel more or just do something else. I always thought when I was working I would have more time outside of work to keep up with other things, like my personal blog or freelancing. But nope, life comes at you fast and work can be all consuming. When you’re not at work, you’ve just got other things to do and other things going on in life. It gets busier than I ever thought.
But I’m really enjoying the job so far. It’s really fun and I’m excited to do more client work in the future because I’ll have the opportunity to travel to different places and do a variety of projects.
What’s new with you since we last talked?
Well, I’ve been working at MorganMyers for three months now, so I’ve had the opportunity to see more of the administrative side of things, how you bill clients, what managing that client relationship looks like, and how we find new business and grow out existing business. Those are all things that I see myself leading further down in my career path, so it’s exciting to get to experience that now.
I know last time I had mentioned that I was doing a lot of social media, strategy and execution, but now I have a little more autonomy and am leading some of the that. I’m also working on projects with more long form writing and web development. We’re going to be testing user experience on a website soon and I remember doing that in a digital studies course, so I’ll be able to put my DS skills to use there.
Are you still freelancing too?
Yes! I have a steady freelance contract with Lessiter Media in Brookfield. I’m actually doing a little more work for them now than I was before, which is exciting, but it does take up more evenings during the week. But I do try to keep the weekends free so I can see friends and do other stuff.
How’s the work-life balance going?
It’s definitely challenging for me, especially since I really like this job and feel passionate about it. Sometimes I have to rein myself in and bring a little life back into the work-life balance. It’ll get busy at work and I enjoy being busy, but then all of a sudden I realize I haven’t done anything but work for a while. I’ve started working at the local YMCA to make sure that I’m still doing things that aren’t work related.
Is there anything you wish you’d done as a student that you think could have prepared you better for what you’re doing now?
Yeah, I had this realization after looking back at some of the job applications I had filled out and the cover letters I had written my sophomore and junior years. I read them and realized that what I’d written was nothing like what it actually is like to work in an agency. I bet the recruiters read them and were like, “what does this kid think it’s like to work in this industry?” If I could go back, I would make more of a concerted effort to get an idea of what day to day is like in the industry and what they need. Being in communications and advertising, I see there are lots of areas where they need younger, digital savvy people, and I wasn’t necessarily always playing to those needs and skills. I was just touting what I saw as my best skills and qualities. So I guess just be more in tune with what the actual work is like and what the actual day to day in the industry issues and problems are would have been more helpful in marketing myself as a job candidate.
Any other advice for current students?
Never stop networking. For work, we do purposeful networking, with our clients and for our clients, to keep up industry relationships. I’ve stayed a member of the National Agricultural Marketing Association (NAMA) and I’ve gone to a couple of events with that, which has been a really great opportunity to keep in touch with other professionals at other agricultural and food marketing agencies and corporate places. I still follow up with contacts from school and other places that interned at. You never know when you’re going to find an opportunity to work with them in a professional capacity.
What’s new with you?
I actually have some exciting news to share. I took a new job with Post Consumer Brands as their Senior Communications Associate in the Corporate Communications Department. I’m wrapping up my time with MorganMyers this week and will be starting at Post in Minneapolis on January 21st.
Congratulations! How did you find this opportunity?
I had interned with Post previously, so I occasionally would check to see what opportunities were available there. I saw the opportunity on their website back in October, but didn’t really give it a second thought because they were looking for someone with 5-7 years experience, so I assumed they were looking for someone with a little more work experience under their belt. Plus, I was content with what I was doing at MorganMyers.
Then in December, I reached out to my former manager there to wish her happy holidays. In her response, she suggested that I reach out to the HR manager about the role, so I did. She got back to me right away and we scheduled a first round interview for the next day. And then it just snowballed from there and before I knew it, I was driving up there for an in-person interview. So even though I’m switching jobs relatively quickly, it seemed like a position that would provide me with enough additional experience that it would be worth making the leap.
Wow! So the moral of the story there is to always keep in touch with your former supervisors and take the time to wish them a happy holiday season. What type of work will you be doing there?
I’ll be doing a lot with internal communications, so managing most of the company’s internal content like the articles on their intranet, communications around training resources, and talking points and presentations for senior management. On the flip side, I’ll also be working with external public relations managing their external facing corporate website, working with agency partners to maintain those relationships, and also managing any sort of company news.
What are you most excited about with this opportunity?
The free breakfast cereal! But more seriously, I’m excited to have more control and autonomy over the sorts of communications we put out. One of the great things about working for an agency is that you get the broad experience of working with different clients, but you’re also continuously answering to the client and the end product isn’t necessarily yours. With one organization, you have the opportunity to grow with that brand, build that brand, and you have the final say when it comes to how you’re going to communicate.
But I’ll definitely miss the people I’ve worked with at MorganMyers. It’s a small team and I’ve worked with some amazing people. I’ll also miss working directly in agriculture because it’s such a welcoming field. But I’ll still be working with food and agriculture, just more on the consumer and food side now rather than the farming side.
Changing jobs evokes a whole lot of emotions.
Yeah, there are so many unknowns. For me, it’s not only just taking a new job, but it’s a job that is really a lot different that what I do now. There’s not going to be as much social media or any client relationship management. I’ll be on the other side of the agency relationship, where I’ll be giving people work to do. I think there’s also going to be a lot of cross-departmental collaboration. But I’m excited about the possibilities with this job and the opportunities I’ll have to grow as a young professional.
Last time we talked, you had just accepted a new job with Post Consumer Brands. How are things going?
Well, I’ve been there for about three months now. For the first month, I was just meeting people and learning about the company, how things work, and what everyone’s roles are. But now I’m really getting into things and am really enjoying it!
What does your day-to-day look like? Was it was you expected?
There’s actually a lot more flexibility in my position than I expected. I had this perception that corporate meant rigid; that I would have my job responsibilities and that’s what I would do. But in a lot of aspects, it offers as much flexibility and creativity as I had in my last job at MorganMyers.
I spend a lot of time developing content for our internal communications – a weekly employee newsletter, the employee intranet, and assisting with the CEO’s monthly letter. I also help coordinate a monthly townhall that every single Post Consumer Brands employee is invited to attend. At first, I was hesitant about employee communication because it was an area I wasn’t familiar with and honestly, it didn’t sound that exciting. And even though it’s not flashy like advertising or PR, it’s been really great and I can see now that it’s one of the quickest ways to have a direct impact on the organization.
I’m so glad to hear it’s going well! Are you working on any fun projects at the moment?
Two, actually! The first is that I’ve been working on putting together a corporate social responsibility framework around charitable giving, responsibility, and the environment, which we didn’t have before, but many companies do. It’s been really exciting to build and research and develop my own strategic communications framework. One thing that’s come out of this project is realizing how much Excel matters. I have a lot of spreadsheets with corporate giving numbers and charitable giving for our corporation and other corporations. And I have to take those numbers and manipulate them into visualizations that we can use in presentations with our stakeholders to gain buy-in.
The other project I’m spearheading is the creation of a Post Ambassadors program. It will be a professional development opportunity for employees to sit on a corporate communications committee and to develop their communication and leadership skills while gaining a broader view of the organization. Because we have 14 different locations in the US and Canada, this will be a way to bring people together and create community. I’m hoping with the creation of this program, that I’ll be able to get to know more people at the various locations who can help me come up with content ideas for the weekly newsletters and the employee intranet since coming up with content on a daily basis can sometimes be a struggle.
Those sound like great projects! And are you still doing the freelance work for Lessiter?
Yes – that’s still going really well! And now that I have more free time in the evenings, since this job has more of your standard 9-5 hours, I’ve also been looking for other opportunities to freelance. I’ve been doing some work for friends designing posters or fliers for their events and also helping our neighborhood association with their website and other digital media stuff. It’s been a great way to continue expanding my network now that I’m living in Minneapolis.
That’s for sure! Has there been anything from Digital Studies that you’ve found helpful as you’ve navigated through this first year after graduation?
The introduction to a variety of technical skills through my Digital Studies classes has been super helpful. Even if I didn’t master them in DS, just gaining proficiency and familiarity with them has been very advantageous – like having a basic understanding of HTML coding and knowing how to use Photoshop to crop photos. Working in communications, there are a lot of really strong writers in the field, but what helps you stand out are all those additional technical skills, like being able to edit a website. It’s those sorts of things that might seem insignificant now, but when I can edit our website for my boss, I know they really appreciate that we don’t have to outsource that.