MIMA Career Development Series – Teaser Q&A with Panelist Holly Spaeth

By Gina Micek

In the first of MIMA’s semi-annual Career Development Series, our panelists will explore the burgeoning job opportunities in digital marketing.  How does a modern job seeker make more informed decisions with all the choices that are available?  There is no end of advice given to job seekers but how much of it is truly helpful?  Join us May 4th at Horizontal Integration for a panel discussion, networking, and headshots and gain valuable insights to make the most of your job search.

Holly Spaeth, Director, Digital Marketing at Polaris Industries gets us started in this Q&A.

MIMA: What will your panel discussion focus on May 4th?

Holly: I made the leap from agency to corporate. I will focus on what that is like, misconceptions and reality.

MIMA:  What do you want modern job seekers to know?

Holly:  What I see is that people fail to ask the right questions.  They spend time thinking about whether they want to work at a start-up, an agency or a big corporation and focus their search on that desired location. These categories are not one-size fits all.   

MIMA: What should they be asking?

Holly:  What is the feeling I want?  What is the compensation I am looking for?  What is going to make me happy in terms of responsibilities?  What is the culture that will make me happy?  Ask yourself, “What do I want to do now and in the future – does this job/company take me there?”

You aren’t going to find this information on the corporate website or in the job description.  You are going to find this by talking to people who work at the places that you are considering.  The best question you can ask when networking is, “How long have you been with your company?”  If it is a long time, follow-up with what keeps them there.  If they just switched jobs recently, what made them move.  Be inquisitive.

MIMA: But isn’t it important to decide if you want to work at an agency or at a large company?  Seems that is what I hear – the two cultures are so different. I need to choose.

Holly: Not really – it is a misconception.  I have seen large corporations that act like start-ups and agencies that have loads of red tape – the type of company doesn’t immediately dictate its culture, responsibility level, titling, or compensation.    If you go into your search with the idea that you won’t experience long hours at a corporation or you can drink at an agency, you will be disappointed if these ideas don’t meet reality.

MIMA: I have noticed that titles are all over the place and don’t always have much meaning. What are your thoughts?

Holly:  Smaller agencies and start-ups tend to have more flexibility in titles compared to larger organizations where there our broader teams and process that match work to naming. What is really in a name? Don’t let a title sway you. If the responsibilities fit what you do or have interest, throw your name in the ring. It doesn’t matter if on paper it appears to take you back a step or push you up two. 

MIMA:  What’s your advice for a job seekers when it comes to job descriptions and how to interpret them?

Holly:  A job description is a few hundred words trying to convey something far more important than can be determined in that short amount of space.  An organization is looking for a specific set of skills and a cultural fit. When I moved to California for a bit, I applied for a job that required ten years of experience. I had a little over one and applied anyway.  I got chosen over candidates who fit the job description.  If you find something that feels like a fit for you, go ahead and apply.  You never know when your resume might come across the desk of the hiring manager who sees your potential and is seeking certain skills no one else seems to bring to the table.

MIMA:   What are your thoughts about colleges and whether they are helpful in providing leads for jobs or recruiting contacts – seems a lot of people think these programs should lead right to a job offer?

Holly:  My college did a great job of showcasing opportunities, but they really focused on large organizations.  It was nice to understand the potential roles in that path, but it left out smaller organizations and agencies. If you are only shown one option, you might miss out on all the other ways you could move forward and advance. Digital marketing also presents an opportunity for all colleges and universities. Because it changes so quickly, the coursework can’t keep up – so they present just a handful of the options available –  market research, media buyer.  There are so many different directions even those two areas can go.  Do your own research, talk to people about their jobs and apply for anything that interests you.

Join MIMA at our first Career Development event – Modern Career Development -- open to everyone! The event will be held Thursday, May 4th, 2017 at Horizontal Integration in St Louis Park beginning at 5:30pm and includes food and drinks, networking, a panelist presentation and a headshot station.