Professional History: Where I Came From

After creating the last video post, I realized there needs to be a bit more clarification as to where I actually came from, professionally. A bit of professional history, if you will.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I worked all through college both in the design industry, as well as, the hospitality industry as a Bellman/Valet (You need to pay the bills somehow).

As my college career was wrapping up, I interned at Cramer Krasselt as a Brand Design Intern. I had the opportunity to work with some talented designers and marketers. I helped in the rebranding of massively large corporations and assisted in business development. Along with working at CK, I also had a Design Internship with Mindspike Design. A design firm with enormous potential and experience guiding my talent and nurturing my passion. Needless to say, internships sometimes come to an end. So, where did I go?

It’s always difficult to transition from college to the “real-world.” It was a tough market. Just when I thought it was getting too tough, a firm called NovoPrint, plucked me out from the void. I started as an entry level designer working on B2B publications for Chambers of Commerce throughout the nation. As time moved forward, I moved up the ladder. I started out as a “Designer,” then “Sr. Graphic Designer,” and ultimately “Art Director.” All this happened within a span of 4 years

As I moved up the ladder, so did my responsibilities. Not only was I in charge of the designs coming out of the design department, but I became responsible for the rebrand of the company; no easy task for one person to be sure. However, my experience as a Brand Design Intern a few years before; assisted me a great deal in this internal venture. Once I successfully rebranded the company, I became responsible for the marketing of the company along with the sales department.

I never went to school for marketing. I was never formally educated in the “fine art” of marketing. I have heard a lot of people say lately, “I come from a marketing background.” Well, what does that really mean? I’m pretty sure that if you’re not completely daft to the way business is run, you can pick up marketing fundamentals and strategies pretty fast. Also, reading a ton helps too! So that’s what I did. I paid attention, I asked questions, I learned from reading. I’m not saying that marketing is an easy profession or a skill you can simply pick up. What I am saying is, sometimes you find yourself in a position to learn new things, work on new projects, or splinter off your career path and try something different. I took initiative and learned on my own, I learned by doing, I learned from the streets.

BOOM! 2009! There are dark days ahead for the country. The recession claimed me as a victim. Due to budgetary cutbacks, slashing of overhead and overall changes to the way NovoPrint conducted business, I was laid off along with a third of the workforce. I know it wasn’t personal, I know it wasn’t due to performance, and I know it had to be done. What to do now?

4) INDEPENDENT: The Rise of @ebreakdown
You have to move forward. Look for new jobs. Look for new opportunities. Never say, “No.” Expand your skill sets. Learn new things. Network, network, network! That’s what you do

I started to work as independent contractor. Businesses were laying people off left and right to cut overhead, but they still needed work done. This change in business dynamic opened up a new sector; the independent contractor. That’s where I came in.

I started with clients who wanted a new logo; I provided. But what I started to realize is clients who said they wanted a new logo usually didn’t know why they wanted one. Something I learned: there is complete and utter confusion out there about identity and branding. Identity is creating a unified, visual representation of your company across many platforms. Branding is creating meaning, message and belief of the company or product, reinforcing the business plan that works with the identity. Many more clients wanted not just a logo, but branding/message insight/consult too! Time to brush up on my branding knowledge once again.

This consultation with clients regarding their brand strategy, equity, message (how many buzz words can I throw in here?), proved to be exciting, fun and fulfilling! I loved doing this type of work. It’s the artist in me I suppose. To create (or recreate) something from nothing and see it become accepted to the public. Now there is the key; the public. What happens if the public doesn’t pick up on the brand? What if the public thinks nothing of it? Or heaven forbid, the public doesn’t like the message?

Clients started asking me marketing questions. They wanted marketing consultations. I was happy to provide. Again, I may not have come from “a marketing background,” but I do know my stuff (and not just buzz words). That doesn’t stop me from learning more at all either. I hunger for more knowledge. I started to become a consultant of brand strategy and marketing.

Social media hits the market. People are coming out of the woodwork asking to be on Twitter and Facebook. They need blogs, they need ghost writers, they need YouTube. Why? They didn’t really know why. I have been in Social Media, personally, for about 5 years now. I know the technical side of it and with my knowledge in marketing, I sort of knew where to go. But, “sort of” doesn’t fly in the world.

Read, network, read, network, try, try, fail, try, read, network. That’s what I did. I became a sponge once again. I learned how to apply traditional marketing techniques to social marketing. I learned what to say, how to reply, when to reply. I learned metrics, analytics, budgets. I learned how to create communities and voices. I learned how to keep my clients’ messages on point, that reinforce their marketing plan, that reinforce their business plan.

So, that’s where I am now. You may ask, “Is working going well?” It’s growing, it’s a work in progress. You may ask, “Are you fine working on your own, or do you want to work for a company again?” I would love to work for a company again. I have a plethora of skills I can pull from to provide a variety of services. I am a designer. I am a marketer. I am a social media strategist. I don’t think about my background, I think about my future.

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