Proactively involved in all things is how Gabby Altman has navigated both her education and marketing career. She shares how each new venture has given her insight and direction so far.
Growing up, I always loved consuming media and was always intrigued in the psychology behind advertising and marketing. My career path was always somewhat clear to me due to this passion. Throughout my post-secondary career, I really wanted to grow my resume so I joined clubs and took opportunities that would grow my experience in my professional life.
At the Queen’s University, I wrote for the Queen’s Journal, Muse Magazine and created blog and video content for Queen’s TV. Additionally, I was on both the Queen’s Media and Journalism conference and the Queen’s Film and Media society executive boards. Being part of these boards gave me the experience to plan events for the film and media undergraduate students, including a yearly Montreal trip to RIDM, a documentary film festival and organize a large media conference with industry professionals. I also took part in programming that the school of business ran, including being able to attend a talk from the Netflix Canada VP and visit the Adidas head office in Toronto. Outside of Queen’s University, I also stumbled upon the opportunity to intern for College Fashionista where I wrote articles about college street style and fashion.
After completing my post-grad, I completed my co-op for my post-grad degree which turned into a full-time job. The organization was media company which focused on digital marketing, specifically by using relevant social influencers for brands. It was here that I worked on social media, wrote blog articles, learned more about paid advertising, and got to work with some great brands such as L’Oréal, Ford and SunRype. After working at the company for two and a half years, I recognized it was time for me to grow and continue my professional growth – this led me to my current position in higher education!
Throughout all of these opportunities, I was able to really find my niche and recognize what it was that I was passionate about, and what it was I was not as much interested in.
There were several challenges I faced while trying to break into the industry and land my first job. First of all, the market was very competitive. It can be very discouraging and a vulnerable experience to seek a new job, as there is lots of rejection. For every job there are several hundred people applying to the same position, so it can feel overwhelming to stand out and be different in order to land the job.
Additionally, while I had lots of theoretical experience from school, the only practical experience I had were part-time volunteer opportunities. It’s easy for imposter syndrome to sneak in and feel as though you do not have enough experience, or you are not good enough – but it only takes one opportunity to launch your career! It’s important to stay confident and to apply to positions that are relevant to your skillset and where you want to grow.
Something I wish I had known when I was just starting my career was that it is okay to admit you don’t know something and to ask for help and questions. People are willing to help you and will want to see you succeed as well.
I have always really valued education, so my current role was a great fit for me. They value growth and highlight the core value of ‘always learning’. I enjoy what I do because I feel as though I am actually making a difference and helping people pursue their goals and improve themselves through education. The marketing manager position is a great fit for me because it gives me the opportunity to let my organizational skills shine, as well as still exercise my creative muscle.
Of course, the pandemic has impacted the entire world in the ways in which we live and do business. For the educational industry specifically, online learning is more important than ever, and being able to be flexible and focus on consumer needs is critical. The industry must look out for how students want to adjust to this and what they value. For example: how to make zoom classes more interesting, how to keep interaction alive even if pursuing a degree virtually, and how to make an online degree just as valued as a degree taken on campus.
While technical skills are important, personality and confidence are essential. Other people will be able to sense your energy. If you think about it, you spend more time with your work colleagues more than you do with your friends and family, so it’s important to be true to yourself and have a positive attitude.
Flexibility is also really important: being a team player, a self-starter and doing things without being asked, as well as bringing new information to the table are also core values that organizations seek. Essentially, try to make yourself irreplaceable and bring something to the table that no one else can.
Another piece of advice I can pass on to someone who is in the early stages of their career is to be friendly and meet other people within your organization and try to branch out. For instance, if you work in marketing, try to talk to someone from the accounting team – it will give you insight and perspective into their role and give you fresh ideas – as well as some new friends!
It’s also important to not be afraid to voice your ideas and make your voice heard. Even if your idea is shut down, by not taking it personally, you can continue to voice your ideas and input on the projects you are working on. Previously, in some cases I had dealt with being the youngest one in the room and not having my ideas be taken seriously. It can be intimidating. Be confident and ready to learn from other people who may be more senior than you to keep voicing your ideas and opinions. Those higher than you will remember that you kept at it, which will enable you to stand out and be seen as that creative someone who can be relied upon.