1. How many and what kind of internships did you have?
I had about 6 internships during undergrad and grad school ranging from marketing and program management to supply chain and sustainability initiatives. Here are the names of the companies and the internship title.
- World Affairs Council – Program Specialist intern
Deepened awareness of global activities in SC by implementing 2 events per week, expanding member and sponsor base 5%.
- Midlands Biofuels – Marketing Development and Account Management intern
Developed marketing and implementation plan to increase investment and awareness for alternative energy firm and visited 62 potential suppliers for waste oil supply while organizing logistics and communication for increased capacity.
- Post No Bills – Project Development Intern
Research and expand economic development and marketing project proposals for corporate/governmental organizations.
- USCarolina International Business Dept and Wal-Mart – Sustainability Case Writer
Design and write one of six interconnected teaching cases for Wal-mart with Moore School of Business faculty for use in undergraduate and graduate business schools to teach global management and implementation of a large-scale, corporate sustainability initiative.
- Net Impact – Resource Guide Development Intern
President of Net Impact USC chapter for 2 years, elevating chapter to 1 of 2 Silver Level Awardees, led to writing for chapters to use in creating a socially and environmentally-focused world through the power of business.
- Pfizer – Consultant for Capsugel Licaps Division / school credit / internship
Lean Six-Sigma Green Belt Certified Project (5 person team)
Built solution for raw-material procurement problem by standardizing templates for mixed categories of raw materials, saving $100,000 per year according to Capsugel executives, as our proposal reduces their testing costs by 20%.
2. Did you always want to work in this industry?
Ever since high school, I really enjoyed getting people excited about things – whether it was a high school football game, a party, or a new class project. I liked figured out what the interesting tidbit is in something, and sharing it. That is the basic level of “marketing” to me – figuring out how to get people into the idea/product/service you are into. I didn’t know what industry I wanted to be in, but I knew I liked that, so running my own company allows me to not pick an industry and just work with people I find interesting – then get others interested in them.
3. Did your internships lead you to this industry?
My internships taught me how to work with people professionally, as opposed to just scholastically, and they also showed me what I liked and didn’t like to do. I knew I didn’t want to pursue a job in supply chain management after my internship with Pfizer because I had such a terrible time doing the work. It was interesting and my team was great, but the actually work was not fun. On the other hand, I really enjoyed helping with marketing strategy at Post No Bills – it didn’t feel like work. The difference in feeling from that to Pfizer proved I needed to head in the direction of marketing/communications.
4. How many jobs did you have before starting your own company?
I had one “real” job after my graduate degree at a PR boutique called Thunder11. I was an Account Executive, and managed 6 clients while also doing HR and office management. It was my first real taste of PR and media relations, which was a necessary experience. Before that I worked as an orientation leader in college, as a trainer and a volleyball coach, and then had my 6 internships that prepared me for the “workplace”. The internships were I got most of my job experience from that led to my company development.
5. What do you like most about having your own company?
I like having the freedom to move quickly – make decisions fast; drop/add clients as I choose; make my own hours. I also like being fully responsible for the work given to clients. I enjoy being able to create my own destiny so to speak.
6. What do you like least?
Even though I love creating my own destiny, there’s also an enormous amount of stress that comes with that because it makes you want to work all the time. It’s hard for me to stop working and not feel guilty about it. I constantly feel the need to do more, be more, make more since, hey, if I don’t do it, it is all on me. The feeling of never doing enough is something I don’t like and something I am trying to fix. By creating more concrete schedules and due dates as I move into my second year of business, I hope to remedy this feeling.
7. What skills are most important for a career in this field?
In the field of PR/marketing, I think the most important skills are follow-through, creativity, and understanding what society cares about.
Following through on what you say you are going to do is huge since a lot of people in this industry talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. And follow through also means following up and building relationships with the people you work and pitch to.
Being creative is important when it comes to both writing and outreach. You have to be able to think outside the box and get the message out in the most effective way. Also using creative ideas to integrate PR, social media, grass roots marketing, is vital – there’s not one industry anymore, everything overlaps. Understanding how to integrate creatively is very lucrative.
Finally, having your finger on the pulse of society is key to making sure your messaging is relevant to the time. All PR/marketing is dependent on knowing what your audience cares about and understanding societal trends, pop culture, and general news is key to getting your message out.
8. How is the economy affecting this industry?
The economy was the main reason I started my company in the first place. I left my PR job at Thunder11 to start Hifive, but also to explore other job opportunities while I built up a client base. I couldn’t find any good job opps because of the economy, but I did gain clients for Hifive because I was a small, cheap one-man show. The economy drove me to pursue Hifive full time and it ended up working out nicely. Now, with the economy turning around and marketing/PR industry coming to the light as a “needed” company expense, people are spending more money on it and Hifive and agencies like me are benefiting.
9. Why did you decide to start your own company instead of working for someone else?
I decided to start my own company because I didn’t want to work for anyone else. I wanted to be my own boss, pick who I worked with, and make my own schedule. I’m a very independent person, so this job style fits my lifestyle.
10. What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in this industry?
I would say go for it! It’s a growing industry that is constantly changing and always integrating, so in that respect, it’s a great industry to be in. PR, branding, social, promotion, media relations – it’s all overlapping and giving people lots of room to explore and play. My advice would be try to figure out what you like/don’t like, and what you are good/bad at. Having a comfort zone you can work in as you move up will make the changing playground that is PR/marketing easier to navigate. As you work in the industry, your comfort zone will continue to grow and your skills and abilities will expand into more job titles and more responsibility.