Sunday, March 8, 2015

Success Series: Ashley James, Michigan State Alum, Team Detroit & My Spring Break

My first "spring break" at Michigan State is NOT going to be the typical college break laying around on the beach. Nope. It's like a custom tour of the business world - a peek into the world of marketing.

Since I'm a marketing major with a strong interest in advertising and media - I'm going to "job shadow."  My first job shadow "mentor" is Ashley James, the Social Media Community Manger at TEAM DETROIT. 

I had the opportunity to interview her last fall and she gave me a lot of good advice. Here's an excerpt:

1. What influenced you to be your current career? During my senior year in college, I had the opportunity to take a social media marketing course. This seemed like a great way to broaden my marketing experience so I leapt at the chance to take this class. Social Media turned out to be a great interest of mine and I found myself taking it very seriously. Once I realized I could have a career in social media, I began to figure out how to make that happen. One internship led to another which led to my current position as a Social Media Community Manager at Team Detroit, Inc.

2. What is one challenge you've faced and what did you learn from it?
My biggest challenge, an ongoing one, is learning to just do it. When I thought about going into social media, I didn't think it could happen, at first. Once I began to put my thoughts about starting this career into action, the pieces eventually came together. It's often hard to start something new, something that hasn't been done before, but many times that's the most challenging part - getting started. So I learned to focus on getting started, the ball usually keeps rolling after that.

3. Do you have a mentor?
Yes! I have many mentors, ones that I keep up with and speak to directly and others that I quietly learn from through reading their books.

4. If so, how has your mentor impacted your life/career?
They have helped me navigate college, the advertising world and life in general. Every mentor in my network was sought out for a specific purpose, but all of them have helped me with my career and life goals along the way.

5. What do you do to continue to grow and develop as a leader?
Read, read, read. In the social media industry, everything moves fast and keeping up on the latest is of utmost importance. I keep a pulse on industry news, company developments and also take time for celebrity gossip here and there.

6. What advice would you give a college student today?
Use your career services advisors as much as possible. They are the primary liaison between you and the company that you want to work for. A great relationship with one of them, can help you open more doors for your career.

Also, take a real interest in what you want to do with your career. It's okay to not know exactly what you want to do, but at least explore some things that interest you.

Lastly, internships are key. You get experience, money (usually), and exclusive access to CEOs, VPs and directors (depending on the company) that you wouldn't otherwise have access to. Take advantage!

I will post pictures from my week... stay tuned.