This is the final interview in my blog series (read my first, second, third and fourth posts) on researching the CSR Career Path and what better way to tell you how I landed my dream job then to “interview” myself and share my career advice and profile. I ended up where I am today via a winding path through NFL media relations, managing a nonprofit and working for a tech startup in Silicon Valley. But despite the varied industries, I knew early on I wanted to use my career and abilities to make a difference in the lives of others. I know this sounds cheesy, but to me the perfect job is to tell the story of organizations making an impact on the world, work with people I’m inspired by, and be a part of building something that I believe in. I waited a year to find the right fit and had several job offers, but it was worth the wait. When I interviewed with the company’s founders, I knew in my gut this was where I was supposed to be.
I’ve landed back in San Francisco to join Shout, a tech startup that launched an app in March 2015 that measures and illustrates a person’s values, character and how good of a person they are – as affirmed by those who know them best. Shout changes the way we judge each other by scoring a person’s positive social impact and the cumulative good they see in others.
I hope by reading this blog and the interviews of other CSR/Social Good professionals, you are encouraged to go after your dream job and never settle for anything less. A special thank you to those who have encouraged and helped me in this research – the Center for Social Impact Communications team, Dean Keyes, Georgetown instructors, classmates and all of the CSR professionals I spoke with along the way.
Title: Director of Marketing and Operations, Shout
Graduate Education: Master of Professional Studies in PR and Corporate Communications | Georgetown University
- Alumni Instructor, PR/CC Capstone Course | Georgetown University
- Project Manager & Executive Assistant to CEO | Reply!, Inc.
- Executive Director | The Quentin Jammer Family Foundation
- Public Relations & Events Manager | Octagon Football
- Media Relations Assistant | Baltimore Ravens
I’ve only been at my new job with Shout for a couple months now and I’m thrilled to be a part of a team that is contributing to improving how we interact with others both online and offline. It is not what I originally envisioned when I thought of a CSR role, but I am still part of an corporation that is working to improve society. As the Director of Marketing and Operations, I’m part of a small team building a mobile app that measures the strength of your character with a simple score. In my day-to-day role, I wear many hats and help out wherever I can to get our product launched and in the hands of all of you! Currently, I’m building a communications strategy for our app launch targeting college students and young professionals, writing messaging and positioning statements for our overall brand and managing the operations of the development and design of the app.
It’s exciting to be part of a startup where I get to create a product that others can enjoy.
How I got here
When I graduated from Brigham Young University with a communications degree – I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime… to work in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens. I had no idea what I was getting into, but during that first year of working in media relations for a professional team I definitely got my feet wet in communicating to fans on a national scale. But it was my work with the team giving back to the community that I found most rewarding. Not sure what was the right next step, I ended up working at a sports agency helping athletes promote themselves by coordinating media and promotional appearances as well as helping them with their charitable foundations. I loved helping them volunteer in their community and host special events to raise money for causes they cared about. Despite all of the negativity surrounding some players in the NFL, I got to work with some really caring guys. One of them actually hired me to start and run his nonprofit foundation supporting foster youth in San Diego.
I worked at the Jammer Family Foundation for several years building the brand, coordinating volunteer programs and raising money for the first-in-the-nation residential school for foster youth. Then the economy tanked in 2008 and I was suddenly back to the drawing board. I explored several jobs as a personal assistant to both individuals and CEOs. While I liked a lot of the organizational aspects of that role, ultimately I missed being strategic and being able to use my communication skills to help a company tell its story. That led me to graduate school at Georgetown where I was able to hone my communications skills and learn about the digital media technologies that were new to me as a PR professional. The classes I took helped me better understand my strengths and the direction I wanted to go in my career.
I knew that ultimately I wanted to do something with a social good mission, but I just wasn’t sure what that position would look like. I got some great advice from a friend who told me to visualize the place I wanted to work and what it felt like. I wasn’t that comfortable using my imagination, but I figured I had nothing to lose. I met up with an old boss of mine over the holidays this year and he told me about a company he was starting and asked if I’d be willing to meet with his team the following week. I thought this might be a consulting opportunity, but much to my surprise after meeting with his team and having an informal interview with his cofounder, they offered me an amazing position as director of marketing and operations at Shout, a new tech startup based in sunny San Francisco.
Must Have Skills
- Be able to tell people who you are and what your unique offering is by being prepared with an elevator pitch as well as a unique fact about yourself that will make you memorable.
- Being a skilled writer will get you far in your career. People in any industry, but especially communications and CSR appreciate a concise and skillful writer. Of all of the skills I use on a daily basis – this is the one I use that propels my ideas forward the most and allows me to prove my impact.
I’ve had several career highlights where I’ve been extremely satisfied with the work I’m doing. Most of it revolves around meeting really inspiring people and overcoming the fear of doing something that’s new to me.
One memory that stands out was during my work as the Executive Director of a nonprofit foundation in San Diego that worked with foster youth. As part of my job, I partnered with the San Diego Chargers and hosted ten local youth to a football game each home game as part of a reward program for academic all-stars. Sitting in the sun, watching football with these teenagers who had gone through a lot in their lives was incredibly rewarding. I had taken on this role with hesitation because I had never worked for a foundation let alone run one – but I took the leap of faith and it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my career. I still am involved in foster youth advocacy today because of my introduction to this amazing group of kids.
- Network! I can’t say this enough. We hear this often, but I am proof. Almost every job I’ve ever gotten has been because of someone has referred me or even former colleagues and bosses. Referrals are the best way to find a job. It gets easier the more you do it.
- Find something you’re passionate about and find a way to get involved in that arena. You can always volunteer or attend conferences for an industry you’re interested in. It’s a great way to meet people in the field and learn whether or not this is a career you might want to pursue.
- Ask a lot of questions. When interviewing, I know it’s a nerve-wrecking process, but always ask as many questions about the person interviewing you as you can. Let them talk about themselves and learn how you can connect with them in some personal way – like you both love to golf or have a trip to Australia coming up, etc. This really makes you a memorable candidate and people hire people who they LIKE and would want as a coworker.
I’m not in a traditional CSR role, but one of the aspects of communicating social impact that is a challenge with any brand is getting through the clutter and getting people to care about the work you’re doing.
Sometimes it can be hard to get buy in from management when its not tied directly to sales or isn’t measurable.
And as consumers are increasingly concerned with supporting brands and organizations that have a positive social impact, it will be essential to be able to really tell an organization’s story in a compelling and visual way.