It’s About Who You Know
BY: Madison Filipiak ‘19
Often, you’ll hear people say, “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” Normally I would have to disagree with that claim, however after meeting Professor Mark McConnell my freshman year, I’ve realized that I wouldn’t be where I am today if we had never met.
Like every post-Integrative Core freshman at Mount Union, I was asked to choose from a wide selection of First-Year Seminar (FYS) courses upon arriving. Since I didn’t know any of the professors or students at that time, I chose a travel-themed FYS, taught by Mark McConnell, hoping that it would be interesting and not too difficult. Throughout my first semester at Mount Union, I gradually connected with not only the course, but also with Mark, as the professor and my advisor.
As my advisor, Mark not only coaches me through planning my entire four years of college, but also introduced me to any marketing student or professional that he thought might have an impact on my development as a young professional. One of Mark’s biggest philosophies about advising is that its primary purpose is not to just check off class requirements, but to connect students with professionals in their field of interest. The connections that he has forged for me within just two years at Mount Union, have had a significant impact on my educational career.
This past semester, I received an email from Mark detailing an open copywriter internship at his previously-owned marketing agency, McConnell Marketing (MM). I took advantage of the opportunity and applied for the position. A couple weeks later I was called in for an interview with one of the current owners and she reiterated several times how important and powerful a recommendation from Mark really was. I eventually was offered the internship position and I have already gained so much experience writing content for an actual agency. This job opportunity and consequential connections that I have made, would have never happened had it not been for Mark’s willingness to find the best experiences for his students.
Things that I do at McConnell Marketing and why it’s so great: As a copywriter intern, my primary responsibility is to write content, like blogs, social media schedules and campaign details for McConnell Marketing’s clients. Since MM is a hospitality agency, my content is usually focused around hotels or events near hotels. I really love what I do at MM because I am never writing the same thing. Every time I come into work, I have new projects for new clients with topics ranging from events in California, to restaurants in Youngstown. I learn about so many new things that I would have never been exposed to if it weren’t for my job at MM. Not only is the work that I do really fun and different, but the people are really awesome too. Everyone in the office is incredibly laid back and friendly. We listen to music while working on our projects and it’s such a nice, productive environment. While most of the people at MM are from Youngstown, the Director of Business Development, Steve Kandray ‘13 is actually an alumnus of Mount Union. It’s nice to work with someone that has a similar background to mine and is always willing to hear about what’s going on at Mount.
I recently reached out to Steve to get his thoughts on his experience at Mount Union and what it’s like on working with students from Mount as an alumnus.
“I took Mark’s intro to marketing class my sophomore year, and during the course he mentioned that he owned a marketing firm in Canfield, which is five minutes away from my hometown of Boardman. So at the end of the semester, I asked him about internships and ended up interning at MM during the next summer. Mark was a mentor and my advisor for the rest of my college career (he even recruited me to go on a study abroad trip with him to Thailand) and a job opening was available at MM at the same time that I was graduating from Mount so Mark hired me.”
“It’s always interesting because the vast majority of people working at MM are Youngstown State alumni, so whenever we get someone from Mount I feel like I have a special kinship with them. The sense of Mount Union community really does go beyond graduation. I always try to do my best to be welcoming, because I remember being nervous when I first started as an intern. So far, we’ve had really good results with UMU students and it seems like they’ve gotten a lot out of their experience as well and hopefully that trend continues in the future.”
“Two professors really stood out during my experience, Mark and Joel Evans. What I liked was that although they both had an academic background they would teach with a sense of real world application. Both Mark and Joel (who I believe was a former student of Mark’s) were really good at making me see how what I was learning could be used in the business world. Mark would even prefer us to write papers in a professional “memo” format using headers, subheads, and bullet points, which is similar to what I use when writing business proposals today. There was also a strong emphasis on critical analysis throughout my courses in the marketing program which did a good job in preparing me for graduate school.”
Ultimately, this internship has made me a more confident writer and has given me experience that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on my future career in the marketing field.