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Andrea Richard (IMC17)

Senior Communications Consultant at Allstate
Medill IMC alumna Andrea Richards of Allstate

Growing up, Andrea Richard loved stories so much that she wanted to make a career out of it. After four years of studying journalism at the University of Kentucky, Richard took her journalism skills and transitioned to telling different types of stories—ones that helped brands connect with their customers and stakeholders.

She enrolled in Medill’s full-time IMC program to learn how to create marketing communications messaging that sticks and compels people to act. Now a senior communications consultant with Allstate, she is using the skills taught through Medill IMC to create stories for her employer’s internal stakeholders.

“Medill was the best decision I’ve ever made,” she said.

Tell us about your path to Medill.

I knew I'd always wanted to get a master's in communications. When I was looking at programs, I didn't want a traditional communications program because I didn't want to put myself in a box. What I loved about Northwestern and the Medill IMC program was that I would not only get the communications experience and exposure that I wanted but also marketing as well, which I knew would help me better market myself to potential employers.

Why did you decide on Medill?

I picked the program because of IMC’s Immersion Quarter. It was a differentiating factor in my decision. It's one thing to be in classes for 15 months, but to step away and take three months to be in the field, doing what you want to do, getting real-world experience, making those connections—that was the difference. I don't know if I would be where I am had it not been for the Immersion Quarter.

How did Medill help you with your job search?

During my Immersion Quarter, I worked at Allstate in the summer of 2017. I made many connections in human resources, which was the department where we were working. After that summer I stayed in touch with my contacts, and I used Medill Career Services for interview preparation.

The Medill Career Services department was amazing with interview preparation. One person stands out in my mind. A former reporter, he asked me a series of questions while videotaping my responses. After maybe seven or eight questions, he played back my responses, and we talked about things like body language, tone and how I answered the questions. That was one of the things that helped me in my interview.

Which classes in particular help you in your job at Allstate?

I focused on corporate communications, and it definitely helps every single day. Investor Relations helped me understand the numbers behind communications. Now when I'm listening to things like our earnings call, I can understand the numbers—what they are saying and what they mean.

Strategic Communications was also a big help because I learned how to communicate with different stakeholders based on their needs. It’s a skill I use every single day at my job. I focus on our employees and our agency owners. Being able to understand our different audiences helps me develop messaging for newsletters, announcements and other types of communication.

What advice would you give someone considering enrolling in Medill IMC?

You will get the most value out of the program if you go into it having an idea of what you want to do. It could be data, marketing or communications; just having that mindset allows you to map out the courses you want to take.

Also, talk to your professors outside of classroom hours; they have office hours for a reason. Drop by their office and share a little bit about yourself—what you want to do or where you see yourself in the future. Making those connections while you're in school can help you get your foot in the door.

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