Mei Li Brown
Credentials: Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association
Position title: Marketing Coordinator
Major: Communication Arts (Radio-TV-Film)
Certificate: Digital Studies
Graduation Date: December 2017
How did you end up working at the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association?
After graduating from the UW in the winter of 2017, I moved to the Twin Cities and worked at a family-owned company that manages nonprofit associations. I gained experience working with national and international nonprofits across different fields (e.g., healthcare, advancement, higher ed, strategic and competitive intelligence). This company was smaller, so I did a little bit of everything. Some of my responsibilities included website/email/social media development and maintenance, Google Analytics, SEO, online community management, and marketing plan development.
The variety of responsibilities and nature of my work made each day very unique. However, I got to a point where I wanted to gain more experience and skills in marketing. Plus, I missed living in Wisconsin! I was very excited when I got offered a job to work at WFAA here on campus.
What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
At the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA), I work on the fundraising side of the organization (UW Foundation). My primary portfolio is Annual Giving, where I help market campus-wide campaigns including Fill the Hill and Day of the Badger. My job is to consult and collaborate with program partners to develop a marketing plan that supports their fundraising efforts, and then coordinate the execution. I often rely on previous data and market research to help make recommendations.
During a typical workday, I develop marketing plans and write project briefs that explain how each tactic will be executed (e.g., description, goal, objective, audience communication priorities, creative considerations). I also build the accompanying project schedules, lead my team through group conversations, and facilitate feedback and approval with our program partners.
In addition to my daily work, I am on the Research Team and am a backup for the Senior Project and Resource Manager (PRM). The Research Team develops survey questions, builds the surveys in Qualtrics, and provides a thorough analysis of the results. The PRM team triages all of WFAA’s marketing project requests and heads our online project management platform. I get the opportunity to work on both these teams because of my digital background and experience with data.
How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?
My digital studies certificate taught me how to be effective when it comes to digital-first tactics, and how to think critically about the user-experience. I appreciated the breadth of information we learned through our required coursework and loved any hands-on project where I had an end product to share with my professor/classmates.
The certificate helped me realize that I love hands-on work that involves analytical thinking and digital strategy. It aligned with the responsibilities I had in my first career and influences what portfolios/teams I’m assigned to in my current job (e.g., Annual Giving, Research Team, PRM team).
Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class?
I enrolled in the Internet and Society FIG during my first semester on campus. The FIG promoted the Digital Studies certificate because all three classes counted towards the program credits. I remember taking Communication Arts 346: Critical Internet Studies with Professor Jeremy Morris, Library & Information Studies 201: The Information Society with Professor Greg Downey, and Library & Information Studies 301: Information Literacy with Professor Rebekah Willett. They were challenging classes as a freshman but a lot of fun!
Do you have any advice for current students?
Use your electives to take courses that you are genuinely interested in, even if these courses do not fit into your major or certificate. Now is the time to explore your interests. You may be surprised on what skills you pick up along the way.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?
I led the efforts on a resource hub website redesign. I was responsible for the client consultation and execution of the design mockups, timeline/project schedule, rollout marketing plan, and web development. The platform we had was not ideal for what the client wanted, so I had to do a lot of beta testing, hand-coding, and graphic design work to meet the clients’ needs. It was six months of hard work that I had to do in addition to my normal responsibilities, but it felt rewarding once the new website launched.