Position title: Strategist
Major: Journalism (Strategic Communications emphasis)
Certificate: Digital Studies
Graduation Date: May 2016
What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
I create brand, content, and organizational strategy for social impact clients. Social impact is a really jargon-ey, overused term. Basically it’s about doing more social good than harm, which is more difficult than it sounds. It’s a gut reaction at some level because there are so many strategies for social change, and each of my clients bring a different perspective about what “social impact” means to them.
At a more tactical level a typical day could look like me leading work sessions grounded in participatory decision-making, collaborating with community members on design, or working in the office with my team on digital products.. What connects my responsibilities is a dedication to a user-centered approach and reverence for finding ways different disciplines can weave together for better results.
How did you end up at Hyperakt?
I started my career in advertising as an account strategist for an agency that specializes in the good food movement. I realized my role wasn’t allowing me to connect with the audiences I was speaking to (and also that I hate capitalism, ha!), so I started to look for another strategy role where I could learn more about user-centered strategy. I found Hyperakt though LinkedIn and after a month of interviews, I made my way to Brooklyn to start my current role.
How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?
The classes I took on information systems and coding help me to be a better team member when we’re developing digital products . I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been the only person in a room other than a development lead who could articulate a tech problem or process to a client. That background helps you cultivate foresight into potential problems and opportunities to fully understand the medium you’re working in. I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with pushing our team to create presentations and experiences inspired by and created in the medium that would best serve our goals. As Marshall McLuhan said, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” The more you understand the means of production and the myriad ways information can be conveyed, the better your work will be. I learned a lot about those tools through my Digital Studies classes.
Do you have any advice for current students?
Get outside of your major and don’t treat college like a sprint. I was laser focused on finishing college as fast as I could (because I didn’t have money to stay longer) with the highest GPA possible (because that’s what traditional academia told me was the gold standard). I wish I had been a little less efficient because such a big part of my personality is learning across wide swaths of disciplines.
Also, don’t listen when your parents (sorry mom and dad) tell you that a mismatch of degrees or majors won’t get you a job. I work at a design studio as a user-centered strategist for social impact clients. I doubt there’s one major at UW for that. Instead, my work is a combination of disciplines with a twist of innovation taking place outside of academic institutions. . If you’re smart, dedicated, and passionate, it won’t matter how niche your perspective is, you’ll find someone who wants to hire you.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?
I’m proud that I took the risk to move out of advertising and to a new city. I think if I had realized how much of a shift this job was going to be from my previous position, I may not have done it. But I’m so glad that I did because I’ve never been so intellectually stimulated or excited by my work. I feel like I’m doing my small part to make the world a better, smarter place, while standing in awe of my clients who work tirelessly to push for change in the spaces that matter most.