Nick Westergaard on Marketing, Branding and Communication

Branding expert, Nick Westergaard

When you think Nick Westergaard, think marketing. A few of his job titles include marketing consultant, speaker, writer, podcast host, and teacher. Nick’s rise to success in branding and marketing lends itself to more than a few learning lessons and great stories. 

Nick studied Theater Arts and Psychology as an undergrad at the University of Iowa, and proclaims, “I’m one of those case studies that you hear about of people that come here to school and then just stay.” 

Growing up in West Des Moines, one of Nick’s close childhood friends was fellow Tippie Marketing faculty member, Rob Rouwenhorst. After working in various marketing roles and then, starting his own marketing consulting firm, Nick was introduced to the Marketing Institute by Rob, and the rest is history. Kind of. 

Sitting down with Nick, we discuss what he’s learned during his journey to becoming a successful marketer. Additionally, Nick breaks down how to develop your personal brand, a few keys to delivering a great presentation, and how he maintains his passion for marketing. If you’re interested in marketing (which I assume you are if you ended up here), branding, or communication, you’re in for a treat. 


Could you start by telling me a little bit about your background?

I grew up in the West Des Moines area and I went to high school in Adell. I ended up coming over here to school and I’m one of those case studies that you hear about of people that come here to school and then just stay. I studied theater arts and psychology. If you’re not going to study marketing, a close second or an alternate path, I think would be something that deals with the convergence of behavioral science and creativity, which theater and psychology did for me. 

started working at educational publishing company, Buckle Down Publishing, in their marketing department. It was a great fusion of direct marketing because the publishing business was kind of notorious in their early days of being a classic, direct mail and direct marketing industry, so I got experience in that, but it was also around the same time that the internet was really growing. I got to oversee a lot of our direct mail become ecommerce, email driven, so I did a lot of that with this company. When that company was acquired, went to ACT and worked there for a couple of years doing more branding and digital marketing 

As my passion for that really grew, I decided I wanted to do more than just at an individual company. So, I started to do some moonlighting and eventually ended up leaving and consulting on digital marketing.  

When I grew up in West Des Moines, my very close childhood friend was Rob Rouwenhorst – who is back at Iowa now, was gone for a while – but when he was here for the first time, we reconnected. We both went to Iowa, studied different things; it’s funny because neither of them was marketing, but he eventually went into marketing on the academic side and I ended up in marketing on the professional side of things.  

We reconnected, had coffee, and he said at one point, “You should consider being on the advisory council for the Marketing Institute.” So, I did that until about a year ago when I finally rolled off. But through doing that in talking about the placement of students in jobs from the Marketing Institute, so many of them were ending up with social media, digital marketing jobs. I asked if we were doing anything to prepare them for these jobs. That’s how I’ve since learned you get chased in the hallway after the meeting and asked if you would like to teach such a course.  

I started teaching social media on the undergrad side of things, and eventually on the MBA side of things. Then, concurrently with all of this because of all the growth in the digital space, I started doing more speaking at events and with all of this ended up with the opportunity to write a book which became a second book.  

Then back to all the teaching stuff that happened, the college decides that in their strategic plan they want to make sure that our students can write and present effectively. They asked if I wanted to take that on. At first, it sort of stumped me because everything else had been so branding and marketing focused. I took a step back and I realized how I do a lot of the marketing work is through speaking through writing and I’ve really enjoyed it. 


How did you first become interested in marketing?   

It’s interesting because I started out with an entry-level customer service job at Buckle Down Publishing and I mentioned that they sent out a lot of direct mail. If you watch old movies with business, you often see or hear people talking about starting in the mailroom, well this business actually had a mailroom, so I actually can say that I started out in the mailroom.  

It was very basic, and it’s funny because when you’re young and starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. Boy, if you ask around like what’s a smart thing to say to your employer, “I don’t think this is working out, I think I’m going to look for something else,” is kind of a way to get let go. But actually to their credit, they heard me say that and they said, “let’s look for some more that you could do here.”  

I would say that I was not in love with the first iteration of the job, but they had this marketing operation. Since they had people that wrote educational workbooks, they didn’t really have marketing writers, what today we would call content marketers. They had all these other people that were writing educational materials and when they had time, they would write a flyer or a catalog.  

As the business was growing, it occurred to them that they would need someone that could do that. It’s funny, in talking about career stuff, it seems like a lot of the things that I’ve stumbled into has started with someone saying would you like to do “X”, that I wasn’t really thinking about or looking for, but then ended up liking. That’s sort of me and teaching too. 


Reflecting on your past experiencesdid you have any “come to Jesus” moments when you realized what you wanted to do and how you were going to get there? Owould you say that it was more of a culmination of everything coming together? 

It’s interesting because I feel like I do have a good sense of fitI think that goes back to the first story that I just told you of kind of naively saying to a boss, “I don’t like it here.” I think there might have been a better way to say that, but I’m glad I did because I ended up in the right spot. I was at that company for 5 years and I learned a lot, did a lot, had an opportunity to do a lot and leave my mark, and do some major rebranding work 

Eventually, that company got acquired by a big New York-based conglomerate and ultimately, we were put into business unit with another publisher that was our competitor. We were kind of reporting to our competitor, so to me, the evidence seemed very clear and the “fit” alarms went off. If Ford has to report to Chevy, that’s not a good path for Ford, especially if you’re in marketingmaking plans about growing, about winning – it seemed like a good time to go.  

I went to ACT from there and it was a very different business environment and culture. It’s changed a lot since then, but when I was there, if you hear storieabout the white shirt and necktie experience of working at IBM in the old days, it was very similar to that. But it also gave me what I think of as mybig business experience’It was very formal, very hierarchical at the time. Again, it’s changed since then, but I realized as a marketer there, as you said, my “come to Jesus” moment – and what led me to start doing a lot of freelance work and eventually leaving – was, “I’m a marketer” 

The metaphor I used was, ‘I’m a carpenter, I like to make tables’. I don’t like to sit at a lot of meetings talking about what building a table could potentially be like. So, that didn’t fit for me.  

I ended up leaving and starting a consulting business that I still work on today and still have a lot of fun doing. I speak at conferences as part of that, and also do consulting work with clients, mostly on their marketing strategy, on digital audits and diagnostics, and things like that.  

I’d say one thing that excites me at Tippie, because it used to be, we have professionals doing some adjunct teaching for us, but there’s really been a growth in instructional track faculty, beyond academic and research faculty. You’ll notice people with the title of “Professor of Practice.” Idenotes that they are from our practice track, which means that they have industry experience that they’ve brought back. I think it can be a real complement to our industry-leading research that is being conducted at the University. We have so many out there that are also doing work in the field, as well. To me, it’s been a really nice convergence.  


What really influenced you to start teaching? 

I never really thought that I would end up teaching. I was surprised to be asked and very serendipitous. I think it’s one of the biggest blessings in my life because of everything I do; I enjoy it a great deal. I kind of didn’t know that other paths existed, to my last point about all the different types of faculty that we have at Tippie, which I think is great, and I didn’t know about that from the outside. I just assumed that unless you had a PhD, like my friend, Rob, that that’s who taught, and others didn’t. I was surprised, thrilled, and blessed to be able to do it.  

I would say of all things that I do – I consult, I speak, write, I host a podcast, and I teach – I like teaching the most. Through the years, if you look at all those things, I always talk about if you look at a light switch that has lots of dimmers that you can turn up and down, I’ve had different things turned up at different times in my life. But progressively through the years, my teaching switch has risen up more and more. It’s something that I love doing. 


Could you tell me a little bit about each of different positions you currently hold? 

Brand Driven Digital is a branding and digital marketing consulting firm that I am the owner and chief strategist of. My wife is also my partner in that business, and another strategist that works with us is actually a Marketing Institute and Tippie Alum, Sarah Moy. It’s the three of us and other folks that we bring in, depending on what the project is. So, that’s a consulting business I have.  

As part of that, it has some adjacent hats that technically go with it. Probably the biggest promotional engine for that work, I host a podcast called, On Brand, that I’ve had since 2015. I just recorded an episode this morning for next week that is the 270th episode. I’ve talked with Seth Godin, Tom Peters, and Guy Kawasaki; brands like Makers Mark, Minnesota Vikings, Adobe, McDonald’s, Ben & Jerry’s. In a weird way, not being an academic that does research, I consider that a big part of my field work.

A lot of the interviews that I’ve conducted there have ended up in my booksBrand Now and Get Scrappy, which I suppose is another “hat”. Also, my professional speaking is technically a part of that Brand Driven Digital business. 


In a Google search for “Nick Westergaard”, you are recognized as an “in-demand marketing speaker”; how did you get your start with public speaking and what do you think sets you apart in your presentations?  

I’d say the easiest thing that I look back on is the growth of the internet as a marketing tool. I think it was an inflection point that allowed me to accelerate my career early on, pretty fast. There just weren’t a lot of people that wanted to tackle what to do with that. Leaning into what’s new is always valuable, so there was a lot of demand to learn more about how to do that. So, that’s one need for speakers on this topic.  

The other thing is that if you look at how you brand and market what’s ultimately a professional services firm, which is funny because we help people with their marketing and ads, but if you look out there in the world, you don’t see a lot of traditional ads for branding and marketing firms. That could seem like a disconnect, but it’s just how you brand and market yourself as a professional marketing firm is different. If you’re selling your brains to people, you need to sell them first on the idea that you have brains that they would want. So, one of the best ways to do that is through speaking at digital marketing conferences.  

Here’s another “come to Jesus” moment for you. I’m a big fan of learning and I’ve always enjoyed going to conferences. There was a point, and this is probably the shift from running an agency to, ‘I think I could do that’. I was at a conference and about midway through, I thought these are great presentations, but I could be standing up there and saying things. I started working towards that; filling out a lot of forms to speak at conferences, and a lot of that was for free. Then, as I grew and started speaking more, I started getting paid a little bit more and a little bit more. Then you write books and that moves you up into another class of speaking as well.  

You were correct in noting earlier that a lot of my hats are related because unless you’re a Seth Godin or a Daniel Pink or a Malcolm Gladwell – who are wealthy authors just for being wealthy authors – to excel when you have a book, you really need to look at it as an ecosystem that works together. I’m working with an event now, and they’re hiring me to speak and they’re going to use my books as part of the program. Again, it’s its own kind of ecosystem.  


What are a few tips you would share with marketing students who get really nervous when presenting or to improve their presenting skills overall? 

Well, I think they’re different things. On the nervous side – I just read a line in a Brené Brown book, Dare to Lead, and she was talking about how she’s done it so much, that she still gets nervous, but she’s not scared. I always transparently say in class, I still get nervous when I do it. Like I share in class, it’s one of the things that people are scared most of. Practice in this case really does, if not makes perfect, makes it a whole lot easier. Practice is something that’s going to improve your vocal delivery, it’s going to improve your physical delivery. As you practice making slides, you’re going to get even better at that. So, practice, practice, practice.  

On the other side, in terms of planning, I think that one of the big things for both working professionals and students that have just learned a whole lot and are about to go out in the world, we all struggle with what’s called the curse of knowledge. ‘I’ve got so much smarts in my brain, I want to make sure that everybody knows it, so I’m going to try to cram everything in there. It won’t fit? That’s okay, I’ll just talk faster.’  

I’d say a decent through line in me and my work, whether it’s marketing or communication, is the importance of simplicity. I think that you have to be really focused about what you say if you want to capture your audience’s attention and keep it. I don’t think that’s accomplished by including everything. 


You’ve had a lot of success in different facets of marketing, what do you think are the key components behind your success? 

I think leaning into uncertainty. It feels “yucky” a lot, but I think that there’s things you can learn. Often, there’s success as a result of it. Saying yes to weird things, like nobody else wanted to tackle creating an e-commerce website, nobody wanted to think about how we could shift some of those catalogs that we sent out over to email, so I tackled that and learned a great deal from that.  

I had not thought of myself as a teacher, but as I started to do that, it really kind of helped to flesh out own thinking on a lot of this too. I think that it’s made me better. My teaching has made me better in the field and the work that I do in the field, I bring back into the classroom. 


What keeps you motivated and passionate about marketing? 

I was recording a podcast this morning and the guest said that the people who can decode what makes the most sense, in terms of media, are going to be successful because there’s just too much. I think that, in a weird way, excites me. You can look at marketing today two-dimensionally, and just say, ‘there’s a lot of stuff; there’s a lot of cool, new stuff, there’s new content, there’s TikTok! If you can just do all this stuff, you got it!’. I don’t think that’s the case.  

It goes back to simplicity. Simple is hard – that’s why we fall back, when we’re communicating or presenting, on saying everything because maybe if I say everything, the right thing will be in there and someone will like it, instead of drilling down and focusing. That work is hard, and it takes a lot of thinking, a lot of planning. Ultimately, you have to say it’s this one, not that one. You may be right, but you also may be wrong. But I think that kind of thinking is something that continues to excite me. Honestly, I think that’s why I’ve alternated between marketing and communication, even in these examples that I’ve given to you.  

There was a while, and I’m a branding person, so I thought I had a pretty consistent brand, but I had this odd crisis of confidence once I started teaching personal communication to students. I thought, what do I do? Then, I realized that it felt kind of the same, but I didn’t know how to talk about it. So, if someone needs me to describe everything that I do, what I go with is, “I help organizations and individuals tell their story.” With organizations, that manifested itself as branding and marketing; with individuals, that’s personal communication 


Why do you think it’s important for marketing students to have their own “brand”? What are some first steps you recommend in establishing your personal brand? 

I think that sometimes people can have a hot take on that saying, “you just need to be good at your job; all this personal branding, is that even really a thing?” I think people get hung up because they think that you’re going to develop your own logo, t-shirts, and laptop stickers. Not saying that any of that would be wrong, but it doesn’t necessarily have to look like we think brands look 

It needs to feel like brands feel because strong brands are memorable. Strong brands are hard to ignore. Strong brands make you connect and feel something. If you look at those outcomes, an individual looking for work should absolutely want to trigger some of those same things. You have to think about what is an important part of my brand? Through that lens, you can use that to help answer interview questions, help organize a resume.

I am about focus; I am about simplicity. I think you can see that in my personal brand. 

As a personal branding exercise, think about the idea of a 6-word story. Or beyond that, what’s one thing that you want the person that walks out of the interview after you’re done to think. When they think your name, ‘blank’, what is the ‘blank’ that fills in? If there’s no blank that fills in, then it’s a problem. Then it will truly be a blank and you will fade away from their memory.  

If folks struggle with the idea of a personal brand, they need to first bend their definition of what they think of as a brand. If you have that one thing that you want to be known for, then that becomes a divining rod that you can use in making decisions and it becomes directional. That informs, absolutely, how I answer questions, both in terms of what I say and how I say it.

I try to eat my own dog food a bit in the sense of simplicity because I try not to talk a mile a minute, I try to pause and think. Down to the fact that you can take that to its most peripheral and think about what would someone who values branding and simplicity dress like? You might only have a snapshot of time and if I want someone to think that I’m a bold, creative thinker, maybe that informs what I wearYou might have enough of a personality that you act in a bold, creative way, but your clothing might understate that. 


What specific aspects of marketing or new trends in marketing are most exciting to you today? 

The emergence of content marketing is exciting to me. I have a background in theater, so creating content is very much of interest to me. That’s the side that is really exciting to think about, for me personally, but also for brands too. Looking at what that looks like in these new and exciting ways that you can develop to share your story.  

Some of those new ways that brands can tell their story include podcasting, which is such a broad term but it manifests itself in so many different ways. Videowhich is one of those things like podcasting that never really skyrocketed, but now it is the premier tool on every major social network. There’s more video watched on social networks than the text updates posted, and we know that video has economic impact. We know that customers are more likely to purchase from a brand if they’ve watched a branded video about that product. Then, all the way up to something new and exciting, like TikTok, that is ultimately a video tool. 

The multi-sensory experiences that we can create as brands on one hand, they require different thinking when it comes to strategy, but they also require people that know how to use and engage in that medium. That’s one of the things in talking with undergrads especially, you have this group that has grown up as digital natives and understand these platforms. If you take that and combine that with marketing strategy and analytics, that’s a formidable combination.  


What are the biggest lessons you try to teach your students? 

Coming from industry, coming from the world of practice, I really think that practical application is big part regardless of what I’m teaching. It’s beyond just thinking about something, hopefully, differently, and learning something, it’s that we’ve had opportunities to try to apply that practice to our work as well. 

Student Highlight – Macy Klein

Marketing student, Macy Klein in Australia

This month’s student highlight is 4th-year Marketing and Business Analytics student, Macy Klein. Originally from Manchester, Iowa, Macy knew she wanted to stay in-state for college. Macy made the decision to attend the University of Iowa after sitting in on one of her sister’s chemistry lectures. Drawn to the big school feel, she moved to Iowa City to embark on her academic journey. 

As a marketing major at Tippie, Macy was set to graduate in 3 years, but wasn’t quite ready to leave. After learning about the Undergraduate to Graduate Master’s in Business Analytics program, Macy applied and will graduate in May 2021. 

Below, Macy discusses her experiences in marketing, studying abroad in Australia, and joining the Master’s in Business Analytics program. While Macy’s perspective on the Tippie Marketing experience is unique, her story is relatable to anyone interested in marketing. 


What were some of the reasons you decided to pursue a degree in marketing? 

Going in, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something in business, so I started out there. Originally, I considered pre-law, but after taking Intro to Law, I knew I did not want to do that. Then, I chose marketing. I chose marketing-management because I liked the overview of all the different tracks, and I didn’t want to do anything specific.

I was really interested in the business side of thingsbut I also liked the creative side. Right now in my internship, work more with design. The marketing classes I took didn’t really focus on that as much, but we still learn what to highlight to catch consumers’ attention, so I really liked that aspect. In a lot of the classes I took we talked about why marketing works. I thought that was really interesting and it caught my attention with the marketing major compared to the other business majors.  

Also, I intern with University of Iowa Health Care, so I’m doing a marketing internship with women’s health in the OBGYN department. It started ithe summer of 2019 and I was supposed to have a different internship this last summer. When my other one got cancelled, I just asked if I could keep my internship through the summer. 


What have been some of your favorite marketing classes that you’ve taken? 

Consumer Behavior with Andrea Luangrath. I liked the aspect of learning what works when catching peoples’ attention. It tied in the psychology part of marketing, so that was interesting and something different. 

I also took Merchandise Management with Nancy Abram and I really like Nancy as a teacher because she made it interesting. The group projects were very useful because we did real-world examples and we got to go on a field trip to Von Maur. We went to the Coralville location and the headquarters in Davenport to see the supply chain and how marketing plays a role there. That was really interesting, especially because nowadays we see how retail stores are becoming less and less. Von Maur and their chains, like Dry Goods, have actually been exceeding their expectations each year, so that was interesting to learn about what works for them and why. 

Although the class content in Pro Prep wasn’t always the most interesting, I also really liked Mark Winkler as a professor. He makes things exciting and you can tell he’s invested in his students.  


What have been some of the highlights of your undergraduate studies? 

The opportunity to study abroad. I really liked that they pushed me to do that. It wasn’t something that I originally came into Iowa thinking that I wanted to do no matter what. Even after my freshman year, my advisor really wanted me to go to China. I was like, I don’t know if I want to do that yet, being a first-year student, but then I started looking into it more. They offer a lot of opportunities for scholarships, which I’m very grateful for because without that I probably wouldn’t have gone.

Then, I started looking into the Australia program during spring of 2019. I applied on the first day that the application was available. It was really exciting just to get to go, so I was happy that my advisor told me about that and pushed for it.

I was glad I got to do that and the opportunities that Tippie provides for RISE. Especially now thinking back, I did it during the winter of 2019-2020, and looking back, I was like 2020 started off awesome. We left on New Year’s Eve and were there until January 12th. It was nice because you got enough time to learn about international business in the Asia-Pacific region, but also you have the weekends to explore more and you’re not gone that long. 


Why did you decide to study abroad in Australia? How did the experience shape your outlook on international business, marketing, your personal growth? 

I chose Australia because I felt like it was one of the international business perspectives that you don’t hear about as much, so I thought it would be interesting to go there. It was really a once in a lifetime experience. Knowing how far away it was from Iowa, I didn’t know if I’d get the chance to go there againWhereas, Italy and London, I feel like you hear more about the business opportunities there. I wanted to learn about that region (Asia-Pacific), in general. It also has a closer relation to business in the U.S.the dollar value, and it’s an English-speaking country. 

It was huge for personal growth. I met a lot of new people, and I travelled with someone that I had met in my freshman year orientation. That was really neat that we both got to go at the same time. I met a lot of new friends from Iowa and there were other schools in the same dorm as us. We got to meet people there and talk with them.

For my professional growth, it really just grew my perspective on international business and knowing that there’s so many differences within just the Asia-Pacific region. I joked with my parents that I was going to look for a job in Sydney, and they were like, ahhh, that’s a little far! It just sucks that I couldn’t go home quick because the flight is like 13 hours.  

Also, a lot of new connections. We had speakers coming in, usually multiple a day, so talking to them personally, learning about their companies and opportunities they had in the U.S. was really cool. I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn from the speakers and companies that I met there. 

Marketing-wise, one of the big things that I found was how different the portion sizes were. I went to a Starbucks there and their Venti, which is the largest size here, was the size of a medium. That was really interesting to learn about, just the portions in general. Another night, we ordered pizza from a Dominoes and their large was like a small in the U.S. That was also interesting to just see the health outcomes because of those differences.

Then, thinking about how they market too because there weren’t that many chains from the U.S. in Australia. I found that they had McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Burger King. Those were the big three, otherwise they really had like no fast food. That was interesting and it made me think if their marketing laws are different because I know in some places you can’t market or put on TV fast food ads and stuff like that.

Just learning about how with the different portion sizes and different type of culture there, the marketing perspective flips when you’re marketing in Australia vs. the U.S. 


What were some of the influences that helped you make the decision to join the Undergraduate to Graduate (U2G) Master’s in Business Analytics program?    

I was going to graduate in 3 years, but I realized that I did not want to do that. That’s when I started looking into the U2G program because I could still get my master’s and my bachelor’s in 4 years. In a lot of marketing classes I took we talked about the analytics aspect, how much it was going to be useful in the future, and how big the industry was growing. 

During my undergrad, I didn’t really take any marketing analytics classes. I did more of the consumer behavior and the merchandise side, so I wanted to tie that in. It can equip me both in going into the analytics using my master’s or doing marketing, so I really liked that aspect as well.

Basically, I did it on a spur of the moment thing. It’s weird because you don’t really decide to get your master’s randomly. I actually applied really late, it was summer of 2019 and usually you’re applying the winter before.

I was emailing a couple different people in the master’s program, and also my undergrad advisor asking them what their thoughts were. Also, I did a lot of looking on the Tippie website and in general, reading about a master’s in business analytics. I found that not that many programs did a master’s in business analytics at the time. Just knowing the background that I’ve seen from the world around me and touching on how big data is really influenced me. 

Also, my internship – I had only had it for 2 months when I really started looking into the program but knowing how much data the hospital got in every day, I was like I feel like we could be doing so much more with this. That’s what really sparked me to look into it 

Then I applied; I want to say within the last week that you could. I had my interview and when they were just asking me about why, that’s when I realized this was something I wanted to do and could open the doors to even more opportunities. Really, like I said earlier, it’s nice because now I have the marketing knowledge, but also this advanced analytics degree on top of it. It can open the door to many different fields.  


How would you describe your experience in the Business Analytics graduate program so far? 

My experience has been really good! When I first came in, the first classes I took were Data Management and Visual Analytics, Data Programming in R, and Business Communication. This was when I was still doing my undergraduate courses. It was interesting, just that jump because I had no coding experience in the past. That kind of scared me at first.

My sister also took a coding class her freshman year and that’s when she decided, “no, I’m not doing engineering!” So, that had me worried, like, oh my gosh, I’m jumping into this with no background. A lot of people come in from different majors in this program, so it was taught at a level that I understood. It was obviously overwhelming at first, but then I really got the hang of it. It’s interesting to learn because I feel like not that many people know how to code unless you’re doing those engineering or computer science-type majors. So, it’s nice to have that, in additional to my marketing bachelor’s degree.  

Even in the spring semestetaking Data Science – that class overwhelmed me. Now looking back, although it was frustrating to work with, it was nice to learn the machine learning aspect of it. Even now, with this semester coming to a completion, I can see how much I’ve grown just compared to my first year in the program. I’m just taking Python this semester, but I’m like this is so much easier than if I would have taken it last year at the same time I took R. I can see how much I’ve grown through that 

Although the Business Communication class was somewhat repetitive, it was useful because I was not good at public speaking at all. It’s something that I feared and I still don’t like doing it. I wouldn’t want to stand up in front of everyone, but it was helpful overall, just learning those communication skills. Obviously, technical skills are huge, but they want you to be able to communicate that. If you just have those technical skills, you can’t communicate it to the business, and it means nothing. 


Are there any opportunities that you wish you had taken advantage of during your time at Tippie? 

I was in Women in Business for just one semester and I really wish that I would’ve joined sooner. I did it in the fall of 2019, but I didn’t do it in the spring. My workload and class schedule were a little difficult, but I wish I would have signed up earlier. I wish I would have done it my sophomore year and even freshman year. My freshman year, I was more shy and I didn’t do as much. 

I also wish that I would’ve taken more classes with Mark Winkler. I wish I would have done more of the marketing analytics, since now I am doing business analytics. I feel like that would have been good because it differs in adding the marketing aspect to the analytics. 


How do you feel your experiences at Tippie have prepared you for life after graduation? 

A lot of the real-world projects that we do, specifically in the marketing undergrad programIn almost all of my classes we had group projects where we were working with real companies and doing researchFor Merchandise Management we did a project with Aldi. A manager from the company came in and we had to find new topics or stuff that would work. She actually was going to take them back to the company. That was helpful knowing we’re working with a client and trying to do research on stuff that would actually work for them. 

Also, in the Introduction to Marketing course that everyone has to take, there’s a lot of group projects there. The aspect of working with teams really prepares you. No matter what company you’re in, you’re going to be working with other people.  

My undergrad advisor was also really good. I still just asked them a question the other day, so having them always be there is really helpful. With a lot of the other colleges, I hear my friends not liking their advisors at all. Tippie does a good job of having good advisors that are going to answer your emails and give you good advice, whether you want to hear it or not.  

With the master’s program, the Career Management team is really good. They are there for you and they’ll help you, but I do need to utilize them more. It’s nice knowing that if I get down to the wire and still don’t have a job come May, I can reach out to them. They have all these resources lined up for you, even after you graduate.  

Then, obviously, my study abroad prepared me by exposing me to different cultures, learning that business can relate wherever you go, and being open to travel. It made me realize that I wouldn’t mind traveling for a position. You do have to prepare for where you’re going by learning about how the culture and talking about business is different.


What are you hoping to do after graduation? 

I’m not 100% sure yet, it kind of depends on where I can find a job. I’ve applied with Wellmark in Des Moines, which would be more of the analyst aspect in doing insuranceI’ve also applied to Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, and Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. Those are a combination of positions like healthcare coordinator of a division. So, that would be an overview of using all the business skills that I’ve learned. 

My internship was going to be at Nationwide this summer. I’ve applied there knowing that I have some background with the company. That would be more in the personal product line and insurance side. I’m definitely leaning more towards health care, but otherwise using my master’s degree in analytics.  

I’m also looking at some marketing analytics positions. One of the Sanford positions I applied for was in marketing metrics for their cardiovascular department. Also, there was a position with Mercy, with their heart center in West Des Moines, doing marketing analytics. For Mayo Clinic, I applied for a marketing manager position.  

I don’t want to sit at a desk all day and just code or work on research. I guess I wouldn’t say not working on research. Some medical-type positions, I would want to do research, both on the marketing side and combining it to show my results through the technical analytics skills I’ve learned. That’s really what I want to do. Going out and doing research on the marketing side and then putting it together with the technical skills.  


What advice would you share with other marketing students approaching graduation? 

I would say don’t worry if you don’t really know what you want to do, but don’t narrow yourself on applying to just a certain position. You never know if something you randomly decide to apply to will end up appealing to you. It’s also good to know where you don’t want to be. I’m not sure exactly where I want to end up, but I know where I don’t want to end up. You can not know what you want to do or even where you want to be. I feel those things too right now, but I feel like you don’t give yourself enough credit for knowing what you don’t want and that’s huge. If you know where you don’t want to be, you’re halfway there to figuring out what you want to do. 

Through my internship right now, I’ve learned that you can come in with new ideas. You can’t completely try to change the job. But when it comes to marketing, you can be creative and come in with ideas. They really like that you can be a self-starter. At least at the hospital, they like that they don’t need to tell a marketing person exactly what to do. You can kind of come up with that. Through my internship I’ve been able to kind of make my own job. Obviously there are things that you need to do, but you can adjust that to what the company needs once you get in there and figure it out