CLAgency Alumni Spotlight: Katelyn Faulks
“One of the biggest things I have learned is empathy: how to put the needs of my client at the forefront of my mind and negotiate with and for them. In a way, CLAgency helped me begin to test out what I learned in class in a real-world setting,” Katelyn Faulks, who graduated with honors and summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in May 2016 with a double major in anthropology and studies in cinema media culture.
Katelyn began as a content creator for the anthropology department where she helped revitalize their website and social media marketing strategies. Over the summer of 2015, she moved into a research and planning role for CLAgency. She worked on a bunch of projects, including creating the agency vision statement, collecting and organizing CLA research profiles, and even helped Claire, our awesome managing director at the time, to develop a work plan to clarify and organize content creator’s responsibilities. Fall 2015 through spring 2016, she continued her work with the anthropology department by helping them create social media marketing and communication plans, archiving documents and photos, while also spending the time to sit down and coach fellow content creators on their newsletter stories and aiding our chief editor with co-edits.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently in the first stage of my “dream career.” I’m working as a market research intern at Fusion Hill, which is a small research, strategy, and design firm located in Northeast Minneapolis. I get to work with an amazing team to conduct qualitative research on anything from granola bars to heart monitor devices to credit card consumers for Fortune-100 companies all around the US. As a market researcher, I get to combine some of the things I love most (traveling, researching, hearing people's stories and also storytelling) to do great and important work with a really fun team.
How did you get to where you are now?
Curiosity, perseverance, patience, and an incredible desire to continue learning no matter what life throws at me. I try to view ‘challenges’ as opportunities for growth and self-improvement. I spent my first six months out of college working for a wonderful restaurant called KBOP Korean Bistro. Working in customer service really helps you learn the ins and outs of how a small business succeeds in a competitive market and how to get along with and please your client—who are your customers! KBop provided a perfect transition into my current role at Fusion Hill, where I spend much of my time empathizing with and learning about people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life.
How did CLAgency help you get to where you are now?
CLAgency taught me how marketing functions in both an academic and ‘real world’ context. This job has helped me tease out where those areas overlap or tend to be disjointed. It’s also helped me elevate and apply the skills I have learned through my liberal arts courses to make my approach to research and marketing more effective and, at times, more. One of the biggest things I have learned is empathy: how to put the needs of my client at the forefront of my mind and negotiate with and for them. In a way, this job helped me begin to test out what I learned in class in a real-world setting. And, ever since, I’ve continued to apply what I’ve learned to all of my following roles.
CLAgency has also helped me identify how organizations are structured, how to lead or contribute to a meeting effectively, and has helped prepare me for working with teams of all ages and of all backgrounds. I also became more confident in my writing, speaking, networking, and interviewing skills through this position—which has been invaluable to me in the workforce.
What were your key takeaways from CLAgency?
Always ask, "what can I do better?" By that I mean, ask yourself that question but also ask your managers, your peers, and your team leads. Don't be afraid to reach out for informational interviews about positions you are curious about or for advice from your supervisors and managers about next steps. Last take away: writing, communication, empathy, persistence, and teamwork are essential in many careers. Take care to nurture those skills now through CLAgency work and you’ll be a step ahead in pretty much any job you do post-graduation.
What is your vision for your professional career?
I plan to work in the marketing field as a researcher and strategist for a few years to build a solid understanding of this career path. I'm still formulating the specifics, but I do plan to attend graduate school either for a degree in applied anthropology and design or to get an MBA in management or international business. Afterward, I want to work for a big company for a while and possibly manage my own team of researchers. I might take a year off in between graduate school and that next step to teach English abroad in China, Korea, or Japan but I’m still deciding. So far, I’m enjoying the journey and, instead of simply focusing on my destination I'm trying to learn from every single experience.