Credentials: Work & Co
Position title: Associate Director, Business Development
Major: Journalism (emphasis in Strategic Communication)
Certificate: Digital Studies
Graduation Date: May 2014
How did you end up at Work & Co?
While I was still in school, I sought out opportunities to get as much real-world experience as possible. I interned at organizations like Honest Tea and Voice of America in public relations and communications, in addition to an internship at an advertising agency called Aqueduct while I studied abroad in London. After graduation, I secured an internship at Edelman Digital in Chicago, where I worked primarily with clients in the media and healthcare space. Each of those early experiences helped me learn more about different paths in digital communications, understand different industries, and dial in on the type of work I wanted to do.
In that same spirit, I had a few full-time jobs at digital agencies in Chicago and ultimately ended up at Razorfish (a full-service digital agency) working an account management role on the digital media team. While I loved my teammates and the agency as a whole, I realized that digital media was just not my passion.
On a whim, I had a networking coffee with a Director on the New Business team and unsurprisingly she gave me the perfect pitch. She described new business as a fast-track to an MBA without the student debt –– every day you get to learn about a new industry, unpack a different business problem and meet someone new. I was sold.
What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
Every day, I work alongside incredibly talented product managers, digital product designers and engineers at Work & Co. Our focus is launching digital product experiences that people love to use — web and mobile apps, kiosks, e-commerce platforms — for clients including Apple, Planned Parenthood, Lyft, Airbnb, and YouTube.
In my role, I bring in new clients or expand existing partnerships by curating and pinpointing the ideal projects for our team. I try to match our capabilities and our collaborative style of working with exciting brands that are seeking to transform their products and businesses.
My daily responsibilities might include vetting a project brief from an early-stage FinTech company, prepping a team for a pitch with a luxury fashion brand, or finalizing a contract with a new client in the media and entertainment space.
The pace and ever-changing nature of the digital product world always keeps my job interesting. Between new briefs, new prospective clients, and my brilliant teammates, I learn something new every day.
How has Digital Studies influenced your career path?
When I initially signed up for the program, I knew that digital media and journalism were inherently related and I found the evolution fascinating, but wasn’t sure yet how the program would impact my career. Looking back, I credit my digital studies certificate for leading me to my first job out of college and continuing to inform many of my passions and career goals thereafter.
At Work & Co, I partner with some of the brightest minds in the industry to evaluate and solve real challenges in the digital product world — whether that’s a tough conversion problem, defining a digital-first brand and business, or creating a new interaction model that will change user behavior – all of which were themes discussed in my digital studies coursework.
Did you have a favorite Digital Studies class?
I loved J411 with Professor Molly Steenson. The course was officially called Multimedia Graphics, but we focused primarily on user-centered design. It was my first introduction to digital design, information architecture and UX, and has remained a continuous source of reference throughout my career!
Do you have any advice for current students?
Take as many theoretical courses as you can! When I was a student, I was so focused on learning tangible skills that could be transferred into a career. With the rapid pace of change in the technology space, most of those skills I was set on learning are already outdated. I more often find myself reflecting on the critical thinking skills I gained from the program –– examining and unpacking the impact technology has on businesses, people and society as a whole.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career thus far?
Since I’m naturally competitive and I work in business development, every single pitch win is something I’m proud of. New business wins at Work & Co are especially rewarding because we allocate portions of our revenue toward pro-bono engagements that aim to help society and have a broader impact –– for example, Roo, a sex-education AI tool for Planned Parenthood.