Strong Like Her
When she started college in CLA, Alex West Steinman (BA ’11, journalism), was not sure what she wanted to do with her life and career. Fast-forward a few years and within days of graduation she had traded in her tassels for an office at Fallon, the global advertising agency located in Minneapolis.
Now she is the company’s director of communications, a position she says is, “beyond what I would have dreamed of,” Steinman is making her mark as a Renaissance woman with interests and influence in a wide array of fields.
CLA Power User
Steinman’s time at CLA helped her determine her career goals, “The College of Liberal Arts is the best place if you know what you want to do,” she says, “But it’s also the best place to be if you don’t know what you want to do.”
She explored a potential major in theater, then journalism tracks; first in public relations, and eventually, strategic communications. Along the way, she was learning not only great critical thinking and powerful communications skills, she says, but also the critical importance of mentoring, relationship-building, and taking full advantage of the resources available to her.
“Through CLA, you can become part of the most diverse group of people you can imagine,” she explains. “You can find internships, mentorship programs, academic advisors, writing labs, interview practice sessions. If you’re not using these, you are not using the full capabilities of CLA.”
She became a student ambassador, took on five internships, and studied abroad in Spain. All along, she kept cultivating academic connections and professional relationships.
“I had incredible mentors. All these amazingly strong people who wanted to see students succeed,” she says, “It was amazing to listen to their real-world experiences and talk about what I wanted to do.”
That network was key to lining up her job at Fallon and easing her transition from academia to career. “It’s important to use your resources while you are in college, rather than waiting until you graduate,” she says. “Already having those networks and connections will be very helpful in your career search.”
From Ambassador to MadWoman
Like any good liberal arts student, Steinman has applied her skills not just to her career, but to all aspects of her life–and has become a mentor herself. She’s on the board of MadWomen, a professional and support organization for women in the creative services industry and in May was named their Minnesota “MadWomen of the Month.” She also writes a popular blog and recently started her own apparel company.
The blog, Strong Like Mama, is a hilarious and disarmingly honest look at what it means to be a working mother. Through it, she hopes to affect the conversation around working mothers and maternity leave.
“There’s a shift in the industry as a whole,” she says. “It’s [coming from] a grassroots level from women who are saying they need more time, more training, more mentorship when they come back to work. And the industry is responding positively.”
The blog is also the source of her new-found entrepreneurship. Her apparel line launched in June of this year and is aimed at tackling the "strong like daddy" or "mommy's hunk" messages found on apparel sold in big-box stores.
“There are almost no positive messages that position moms as powerful, strong, confident role models for their children,” she says, “I'm changing that.”