October 5, 2017
My first internship was as an obituary writer/copy editor/coffee-runner for my local newspaper. I wanted to be a travel journalist, and while there wasn’t a whole lot of adventure to be had in writing obits, it seemed like a good resume builder. The weird thing about writing obituaries for your small hometown newspaper is that you know knew most of the people you’re writing about.
It turns out there’s not a whole lot of money in journalism, and travel writing is primarily freelance. As a young mom, the thought of trying to raise a baby without the promise of a regular paycheck and medical benefits seemed like a terrible idea, so I switched gears to ad writing. Maybe I could write some non-sexist beer ads or football spots that appealed to women (what’s up, women’s studies minor). I took another internship, this one at a small Minneapolis ad agency, where I did a variety of things, including learning that I did not want to write ads for hospice and bereavement services. As a matter of fact, it turned out I wasn’t very good at writing in the voice of a brand at all. But I was pretty good at figuring people out and understanding what makes them tick.
So, I started managing people: clients, projects, the people that did the writing. I wrote in my free time for myself and for freelance publications that fit my writing style, and became a professional problem-solver in my day job. Professional problem-solver isn’t actually a job title, though, so I had different titles like account coordinator, project manager, emerging media manager, and senior digital specialist. These jobs were broad and oversaw creative work, resourcing, agency relationships, brand strategy, budgets and timelines.
My favorite part of all of it, and the thing that led me to the position I’m in now, was the realization that I still just want to tell stories that people are interested in hearing. What makes this brand interesting, why does it exist, what is it doing for people, why does anyone care, and how do we tell that story? My job title at Fast Horse is director of social media, but really my job is to lead research, strategy, ideation and execution of brand messages that people will engage with — focusing especially on social media channels to get those messages out.
I’m still just telling stories and figuring out what makes people tick, but doing it in a totally different capacity than I had planned 10 years ago. With each new role I’ve taken on, I’ve figured out a little bit more about what I like to do and what I want to do next.