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Rachel Williams (IMC17)

Sr. Analyst, Marketing Execution at Tim Hortons Brand

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Virginia, and I went to Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where I studied Business Management. After college, I worked as a local TV news producer for about a year and a half before I decided to come back to school to focus my studies on marketing and pivot my career.

Why did you choose IMC?

I chose Medill IMC because, first of all, it’s the oldest and best in the IMC field. Coming from a journalism background, I recognized Medill and its excellent reputation. I also wanted to be a well-rounded marketer, to know the financial numbers and to be able to create content. For me, this was the perfect match. I visited the beautiful campus and met students and professors, and I could see they all had similar passions. I also love the diversity of the program, as I was able to learn from people of all backgrounds, both professionally and personally.

What activities did you participate in while in IMC?

I served as a co-chair of the TalentQ committee. As co-chair, I worked with an amazing team of women to plan networking and educational events for my peers. Our team’s goal was to “bridge the gap” between the classroom and the working world, by hosting panels, keynote speeches and our annual Medill IMC talentQ Expo. The expo we planned, “Brand Content: The Universal Currency of Connection,” was a huge success. More than 500 students, alumni and marketing professionals attended the event. It was a rewarding experience after a year of hard work.

I was also a teacher’s assistant (TA) during my time in IMC. As a TA, I learned from Lecturer Gerry Chiaro not only how to evaluate a student’s work, but how to also give valuable feedback. I worked for Gerry for four quarters, and he guided our team through the process of grading for both undergraduate and graduate students. It was such a great experience, and one that I know helped develop my leadership skills. 

How did IMC prepare you for life after Medill? What person or service helped you the most?

Inside and outside the classroom, there were constant opportunities to gain experience in the “real world.” In nearly every class, I worked on a project for a real company trying to solve an actual issue, and it gave me the confidence to know I could solve these same problems post-graduation. The Career Services office was also a huge asset for me during my time at Medill. My adviser, Sue Schmitz, not only helped me through every step of the internship and job search process, but she also became my friend. Sue truly cares about each of the students and wants to make sure we all find our perfect fit after leaving IMC.

What was the job search like and what attracted you to your current position?

I’m very fortunate that my job was a result of the IMC Immersion Quarter. I spent the summer working with my team for the Tim Hortons brand at Restaurant Brands International in Miami. The project was both exciting and challenging, and I admired the company for its energy and its leadership, so I kept in touch with the company during my final quarter. I'm now a sr. analyst, marketing execution for the Tim Hortons brand. I was really drawn to the strategic aspects of the job, and the fact that I will be able to use both analytics and creativity.

What lessons did you take with you from IMC into the post-graduate world?

There are so many lessons I learned in IMC, but the biggest was not to always follow the status quo in marketing. The entire IMC curriculum is built around doing something different in the marketing industry, by really listening to consumers and designing marketing campaigns around fulfilling their wants and solving their pain points. It’s easy to take what other companies have done in the past and replicate them for your own brand. It’s much harder to create original, compelling ideas that perfectly resonate with your consumers. Through theory and practice, this lesson has stuck with me through the program and beyond. 

Who is someone who influenced you at Medill and how?

I had heard so many great things about Professor Candy Lee throughout my time at IMC, and I finally got the chance to take her IMC Leadership class during my final quarter. Candy is a strong, intelligent businesswoman, and she gave me the confidence I needed as I was nearing the end of IMC and starting to think about my future career. Her advice was invaluable to me throughout the job search process. I also see just how much she cares about her students and wants to see them succeed, a common theme among professors in the IMC program. 

What advice would you give you to a future IMC student? 

I would tell future IMC students to make every effort to get to know as many of your classmates as possible. You will learn from your classes and your professors, but you will also learn from your peers. It’s a rare occurrence when this many talented, passionate marketers are in one place, and you should take advantage of the opportunity. While we are a diverse set of students, we all have similar passions, and it’s amazing what you can learn from one conversation.