CLAgency Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Swisher
When did you graduate, and what did you study? What were you involved in?
I graduated from the University of Minnesota in spring 2018 and studied history and political science. When I was an undergrad, I was involved in all sorts of awesome organizations and worked with some amazing people. Including CLAgency, I was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and on the board for Student Legal Services, to name a few.
What is your current position? What do you enjoy most about your job?
When I was a senior in college, I started a company called Bibliate that essentially creates summaries of scholarly articles and academic papers. Basically SparkNotes for scholarly articles. Currently, I am running that little operation with some-20 team members along with working full time at a company called Outsell, doing account-based marketing.
I think what I enjoy most about what I do is bringing people together for a common purpose: making people passionate about a cause and building a team that stands behind that cause. There’s something about starting something from nothing—doing what nobody else has done—and knowing that it will help a lot of people. It’s really quite exciting, though super stressful at times—just ask any entrepreneur and they’ll probably say the same.
What has your career path looked like so far, and what is your vision for your professional career?
My career path has been nothing like I thought it would be. I originally wanted to be a lawyer, then realized tests and more debt were not in the cards for me. Also, I worked at 3M in marketing and realized I did not like being trapped in a corporate behemoth.
So...I finally settled on something that actually challenged me and gave me joy: entrepreneurship.
I think a lot of my experiences from being managing director of CLAgency at a time of hyper-growth helped shape that mentality. Starting a company like Bibliate has shown me that I want to make a career out of being an entrepreneur. I want to start companies, nonprofits, and organizations that have a positive impact on people’s lives. Nothing sounds more exciting to me than that. Way down the road, it would be great to be an angel investor or member of an accelerator firm.
What role did CLAgency play in your undergraduate career?
If I’m being honest, CLAgency was probably one of the most important organizations I was a part of in my college years. When I first applied as a freshman, I had no idea what the hell I was signing up for—I really just needed a part-time job. What I didn't know was that I was signing up for something that would change my life forever.
When I was in CLAgency during the early years, we were still trying to figure out our identity: who we were, what we were, and why we existed. We started as a group of students writing stories about what was going on with CLA and grew to a competitive student-run PR agency with external paying clients. Being involved in the growth of something like that was unparalleled—the scrappy, creative problem-solving experience of building up an organization like this is something you can’t teach in a classroom. It showed me what was most important for my professional career and gave me the tools and resources to pursue it. It also gave me some of my closest mentors and friends.
Any advice for students?
- Soak it up! You’ll never have another time in your life where you are blocks away from some of your best friends and have so many organizations and people trying to help you succeed.
- If you believe in something, pursue it and don’t look back. Too often I see people graduate college and work a job they hate. Do what you believe in and makes you excited to get up every morning and put in the work to get it.
- Leave your mark. Join organizations, get involved, and meet people. Outside of the obvious educational aspects, college is one of the best opportunities for you to make your mark and learn who you are. Take advantage of it!