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Kaitlyn Thompson (IMC17)

Strategist at Energy BBDO
Kaitlyn Thompson

Why did you choose IMC?
I came to IMC to learn how to think. In this ever-changing world, I believe it has never been more important to understand people – their motivations, behaviors, needs, beliefs – and be able to tell relevant, inspiring stories about them that connect. Just ask my mom, and she will tell you that I've been asking "why" since I could talk. I felt learning an approach to marketing and communications that focused so heavily on the consumer would help me ask the right questions and serve me well overall.

Which classes do you consistently refer back to in your work?
I use the lessons I learned in IMC in my work every day. When I’m drilling down to a key consumer insight for a brief, I go back to the “why” process Elizabeth Harris and April Carlisle instilled in me in Shopper Marketing. When I’m working with our media agency to build a plan that best serves my client’s audiences, I draw on what I learned from Judy Franks in Media Economics and Technology and Bob Wisniewski in Media Strategy. When I’m struggling to serve up data in a way that excites and inspires creative teams, I go back to the skills and exercises John Greening and Bob Scarpelli taught me in Building Brands with Creative Ideas. I also loved the opportunity to take one class outside of Medill to broaden my thinking and learn from faculty and students in different disciplines.

What was your biggest takeaway from IMC?
My biggest IMC takeaway came in Brand Equity with Ariel Goldfarb. The course was about understanding how companies build and leverage brand equities to better serve their consumers and business needs. In the class, we had an assignment on building our personal brand and, to get there, had to answer specific questions on our personal competencies, equities, needs, strategy/intent and tactics/incentives. We also had to solicit answers to the same questions from two people close to us. For me, the exercise illuminated how important it is to have a point of view on those answers that were consistent with my intentions and perceived correctly by others. It is a great lesson for brands, too – the best, most powerful brands are the ones that offer an engaging experience but one true to their purpose and what they stand for. The lessons learned from Lecturer Goldfarb truly shaped the lens with which I took in information throughout the rest of the program.

How did IMC help prepare you for a career in marketing communications?
I came to IMC with previous work experience in marketing communications, so for me, IMC was about elevating my career. When I started in IMC, I knew what skills I wanted to learn but wasn’t sure of the specific career path I wanted to pursue. What I learned from Associate Professor Tom Collinger in the winter quarter was that choosing a career wasn’t about a specific job or particular industry – it was understanding what type of environment and opportunity would serve me best. His approach to career-finding helped me learn a new way to seek a fulfilling, happy career. Through his exercises, I learned that I would excel best in a place that rewarded growth quickly and where collaboration was valued most. I learned my daily work needed to offer an opportunity to solve problems in new ways. I learned that I thrive best when the rules and approach aren’t set in stone, or even known, and I need that flexibility to drive new, innovative solutions. I credit this way of thinking in helping me focus and seek out the right career post-IMC.

Did you use Medill Career Services? How did they help you in your job search?
I did use career services and highly recommend it! Sue Schmitz was very helpful in meeting with me one-on-one and connecting me with alumni.

What advice would you give to future IMC students?
Have a clear understanding of what you want to get out of the program. For me, that was not just attending classes and completing assignments, but engaging and getting involved. I volunteered on student committees (plug for the Cause Marketing Initiative!). I contributed to my groups. I networked. I attended speaker events. I went to professors’ office hours. I spent time with my classmates. I took breaks and played with my dog. All of those activities filled my bucket and enriched my experience in so many ways!

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