Each Tuesday, I talk to local professionals to get an inside glimpse into what they do and ask them to offer advice to teens who may be considering a job in that field. The month of September will include an educator and small business owner, professional musician and costume designer. Teens homeschooling in Nevada and considering college or moving into a trade school can get to know more about the career they intend to pursue. I also spotlight local teens each week who are entrepreneurs, leaders or influencers in the community.
This week I reached out to Ashley Shewey, Association Marketing Director for the YMCA of Southern Nevada. She has some great advice for teens looking to work in marketing, how to get started in the industry as a teen and the interesting and rewarding experiences she has had while working in some high-pressure positions.
How did you get started in marketing?
I actually never had a formal education in marketing, I kind of just fell into it! I graduated with a degree in Journalism for the University of Florida, and had all intentions of writing for a newspaper or magazine. Instead, I went the complete opposite route and dove into TV news. I worked in TV for a span of about 6 years, and had some great experiences. I even got to work in New York City one year for “The Late Show with David Letterman” (considering my audience, he was the old Stephen Colbert, haha!).
After realizing that TV wasn’t the industry for my “forever” career, I took a job at an unknown organic supplement company in my hometown of Gainesville, FL. Social media advertising was just becoming big, so they wanted someone “young” to run the Facebook and Twitter profiles (way before Instagram.) I was the chosen one. At this point, no one really knew what they were doing with social media, so it was a huge learning experience.
I learned a lot about marketing products during this job, and moved on after this position to an online apartment guide. During this time, is when I learned all about digital marketing as a whole, utilizing Google and learning code. I jumped into a position with USA Volleyball after that, which really allowed me to flex my graphic design and writing skills. With my background in TV, I have also been able to offer video production and photography, which has been great, since it’s what I’m most passionate about. After 3 years with USA Volleyball, I moved across the country to Las Vegas for my current position as Marketing Director for the YMCA of Southern Nevada. This job has been rewarding, challenging and life changing for me.
What has been the best advice you received from a mentor?
The best advice I received from a mentor was to never stop learning. Just when you think you know everything you need to know about your job, learn more. Stay ahead of the competition. Don’t be afraid to take chances.
This mentor basically encouraged me to go back to school to receive my MBA, which I am currently pursuing. With me being such a creative-minded person, having the MBA education is wonderful to help bring everything full circle. I know I am very knowledgeable in marketing, but there is so much more I can learn even within my current organization. Learn another job function within your company/organization – prove that you’re valuable and irreplaceable. Right now, I’ve actually asked my boss if I could start taking on some fundraising responsibilities along with my other responsibilities. I am eager to learn and help where needed. And in the end, showing this initiative can really pay off!
What have you gained from your work with the YMCA?
The YMCA has been my most challenging, yet most rewarding, marketing job to date. It really helps when you truly believe in the “product” that you are marketing, and stand by the mission of your company or organization. When I am able to pour my passion for helping others into my marketing work, I believe that it only makes it that much more successful.
I’ve had to start campaigns from scratch, and have learned so much through every step. I’ve also gained lifelong friends through this organization. Because if you work for a place like the Y, your coworkers truly do become like your family. Being around so many different people from different walks of life, who all have the same end goal for bettering our community makes it beyond rewarding.
The biggest obstacle that comes to mind stems back to my very first day at the YMCA. They had not had a marketing professional in over 2 years. This means, that only minimal marketing had been done. When I stepped in, my boss handed me two folders and said “here’s YMCA marketing.” He left me sitting in my office, with no idea where to start. I don’t blame him. They hired me to figure it out, so I started small.
I started with the social media channels and getting those under control. Next, I met with all of my Executive Directors to find out what their needs were at their specific branches (I manage all four of them here in Las Vegas.) I took steps towards crafting a more formal marketing plan, and by the end of the year, I was able to create many processes and strategies. That was a huge obstacle though, and I laugh now when I think about my boss tossing those two folders on my desk!
What advice would you give teens who are considering a career in marketing?
Marketing is a wonderful and exciting career. It’s a great mix between analytical and creative thinking. I truly believe it’s an art, so my advice would be to be open to learning new ways of thinking. Be open and flexible to change, because marketing tactics are forever changing. Internships are huge in this industry, and even though many are unpaid, they add extreme value to your resume.
Even as a teen, you can reach out to local businesses who may need some marketing help. This could include writing blog posts, social media posts, taking pictures…stuff that you probably already know how to do. And don’t be afraid to start small. Everyone has to start somewhere. And who knows, our YMCA has a teen internship program, so maybe you could find an opportunity with us someday!