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Finding Ways to Merge Interests in the Field of Communications


Emily Archer '13
Emily Archer '13

As a studio art major, Writing Center tutor, and a cappella group member, Hamilton fostered in me a deep appreciation for multiple methods of communication: visual, written, and (somewhat less seriously) sung.

When I graduated in 2013, I belonged to the camp of my peers who didn’t know where their skills and education would take them: what I did know (having long before given up on my solo a cappella career) was that I wanted a job in which I could put both my visual and written communication skills to work. I knew that marketing and advertising agencies employed both copywriters and graphic designers, so I began looking for internships in that industry.

Go into interviews with the express purpose of showing who you are: a flesh and bones, three-dimensional person ready to laugh, listen, and lead will always stand out and convey that you’re the candidate to trust with important relationships and the ultimate success of projects.

When I started as an intern at Munroe Creative Partners in Philadelphia, it became apparent to me that, unlike in college, it was difficult if not impossible to specialize in both fields of communication: if you were a copywriter, you provided words to graphic designers, and if you were a graphic designer you created the visual framework into which those words would be placed.

I wasn’t ready to commit to either career track, and that’s where project management came into play. On the client relations team at Munroe Creative Partners, and later on the marketing team at Martha Stewart Living (where I would work after moving to New York City in 2014) I was exposed to all steps of the creative process by virtue of the fact that I was on the team overseeing and managing projects from kickoff through to final delivery.

As the keeper of information and expectations for each project at Martha Stewart Living, I worked closely with art directors on packaging design and photoshoots, as well as with copywriters on brand language. Without committing to either written or visual communication, I had found a career that allowed me to keep my feet firmly planted in both fields.

In March of this year, I began working at Bluecadet, an experience design agency based in Philadelphia. Though constantly evolving, Bluecadet works primarily with museums and other non-profits on exhibit design, with an emphasis on digital interactives. As an Associate Producer on the project management team, I help keep projects like touch screens, projections, and websites organized and on time, as well as serve as a liaison between our internal teams and clients.

Like my other project management positions, I work closely with designers and content strategists - and now developers as well — helping to shepherd projects from concept sketches through to final products that will ultimately teach people about topics as diverse as life in the Delaware River watershed or the legacy of Herreshoff Manufacturing Company sailboats.

While I’m lucky to work in an organization that allows employees to step outside of their job description - I’ve been able to do some light copyediting and design work, in addition to my project management responsibilities - the most rewarding part of my job is being surrounded by incredible talent and knowing that the work we produce ultimately helps people learn.

As a general concept, “project management” covers all manner of sins; while my experience has exclusively been in creative fields, project managers work in a wide range of industries. And while project management has been the focus of my career, I’ve held titles that range from Client Relations Intern, to Marketing Manager, to Producer. But while no project management job is strictly the same, there are overarching similarities that tie them together: a need for emotional intelligence, organization skills, and (in creative businesses or agencies) an interest in persuading people through visual creativity, whether it’s to engage a service, buy a product, or absorb a message.

If project management in a creative field is something that sounds interesting to you, first think about the type of organization you’d like to work for: in-house vs. agency, print vs. digital focus, and specialization (consumer goods, pharmaceutical, real estate, experience design) are all factors to consider.

Once you’ve identified potential companies, tailor your application to highlight any relevant experiences that required people skills (were you an orientation leader, or an admission tour guide?) organizational skills (have you served as the secretary for any clubs, or been the TA for a class?) or exposed you to the company’s area of expertise (any relevant classes, extracurriculars, or previous jobs?).

Go into interviews with the express purpose of showing who you are: a flesh and bones, three-dimensional person ready to laugh, listen, and lead will always stand out and convey that you’re the candidate to trust with important relationships and the ultimate success of projects.

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