Monday, August 24, 2015

AIMA Intern Spotlight: Kathryn Osbon

This week I sat down with Kathryn Osbon to learn more about her and her experiences, the AIMA internship, and her new position! Let’s hear more from Kathryn and what she’s been up to.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I recently graduated from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) with a degree in Sports Management of all things. I knew I wanted to do marketing but I really did not want to live in my mother’s shadow. I thought sports was different enough to where our paths wouldn’t cross too much, plus sports are seriously fun and who wouldn’t want to be sideline during a football game? (I once got run over by a Tennessee lineman, and lived to tell the tale!) Almost every internship or club I was a part of in school was working towards that sports marketer goal. I have worked with the USTA, the Atlanta Braves, and the University of Georgia Athletic Department not to mention I was also a founding member and executive board member of WISE (Women in Sports and Events). At this point I was starting to look for internships for my final summer of college, I decided (was forced by Jen Osbon) to try a digital internship and once and for all figure out if I wanted to continue with sports marketing or I wanted to go down the digital path. Well here we are a year later and mommy was right (don’t tell her I said so) digital is more fun! Digital marketing is innovative and challenging, when I go home at the end of the day I feel like I have contributed to something and have actively used my brain. Don’t get me wrong I still love sports and will always, I am just now a fan and not a facilitator. Which is good because now when I get run over by a Tennessee lineman I will at least have a beer in my hand!

Sheesh! Glad you survived that traumatic Tennessee experience–those dudes are like trucks! Very cool to hear about your work with USTA (AIMA being full of tennis players, myself included!), the Braves and UGA.

So, how and when did you first become involved with AIMA?

The first AIMA event I ever went to was a panel discussion followed by a keynote by Josh Martin about how one tweet can change your life (Arby’s and the Pharrell hat). After that I attended a few more events and became involved with the intern program. I first heard about AIMA through the UGA chapter of AMA, the two are often associated in Athens and are promoted as great ways to network so you have someone to call when you graduate to ask for a job. One of the main reasons digital is so fun is the people in the community. There is not another discipline that works as hard and comes up with more brilliant things but also knows how to have way too much fun! The digital world is a textbook case of “work hard, play hard” and coming out of Athens that mix is exactly what every Terry grad wants. Most of the time smart people are awkward and hard to navigate conversations with but everyone in AIMA is brilliant and friendly and always eager to talk and help. Digital and AIMA specifically are like one big family and who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Agreed! And Josh’s hat tweet is such a great story. Awesome first impression of AIMA!

What’s been your most memorable experience with AIMA thus far?

That would have to be a tie between Summerfest and the golf tournament. Both events were amazing opportunities to network and were just really super fun! The great thing about getting involved with AIMA as a student is that when you go to these events you meet people who have influence, which really comes in handy in May when you need someone to think you’re brilliant. When I started looking for a job I reached out to almost everyone I had met through AIMA to ask if they were hiring or at least knew someone who was. If I had not spent time with people on a golf course that contact list would have been infinitely smaller!

The Summerfest was amazing this year, and I’m personally super excited about my first Golf Classic coming up! Complete with a tennis round-robin, and everything!

You interned through AIMA! Tell us a little bit about that awesome experience.

The intern program was something I heard about at the first panel discussion I ever went to. Someone offhandedly mention it when they found out I was still in school, I already had my internship for the summer and didn’t need much more convincing (tours of agencies, free dinners, and a chance to win money? where do I sign??). I interned with IHG in their paid search department for digital (SEM). IHG has 9 different global brands and millions of keywords, and it was quite the learning experience! I loved every single second of it! As a student often times you are focused on a getting a job and less focused on getting the right job. IHG taught me the lesson about culture and how important that is. I’ll be honest SEM is not exciting and at times can be very draining and excel heavy but the people and environment and just overall happiness to be at IHG made it fun and exciting! Finding out what kind of culture and environment allows you to do your best work is so important and may take ten years to figure out but it makes a world of difference when you roll in on a Monday after sitting in traffic, with no coffee, just hating life.

I highly recommend getting an internship and doing the AIMA internship program. They compliment each other so well and give you opportunities you wouldn’t know about otherwise. I feel like the biggest challenge for those coming out of school is they just do not know what jobs are out there, the internship program tells them jobs and companies that would be a perfect fit if only they’d been told about it. Getting started is pretty challenging because it is all about contacts. I don’t know of anyone who actually got hired off of a job board portal. The easiest way to get an internship or a job is to go to events and get involved. People in this industry take care of their own and once become one of them you’ll be employed in no time!

Great to hear that there’s such a positive and beneficial culture at IHG, and AIMA helped you so much along the way! Completely agree with everything you just said. It can be tough for new grads out there! But hey – here’s an organization willing to help, just look at your success story!

So you can also earn scholarship money as an intern?! Since you’re such a rockstar, I have to ask: Did you win?

I didn’t actually win the scholarship but I did get hired so I think I won!

I’d say a job is a nice bonus to an awesome internship! Congratulations, by the way! So what exactly will you be doing for IHG?

Thank you! I am the newest Campaign Delivery Coordinator for channel programs! Basically I push campaigns live when they are ready to roll out. I work very closely with content teams, brand managers, designers, and loyalty partners to make sure they are all on the same page and are staying on deadline so that our brands get the full payoff from our campaigns. Last summer when I interned for IHG I seriously fell in love with the company and drank the koolaid by the pitcher. The people and the culture they provide is unmatched by any other. I had interviews with other big companies but I didn’t love them they way I loved IHG. I looked at going back to paid media and search in particular but I wanted to learn about other facets of the business and this role was the perfect fit for my talents and interests. Landing this role tested my patience more than anything else. I had heard about this opportunity from a contact at IHG literally an hour after it was announced internally (another reason to make digital friends and keep them!), the contact put my resume in front of her less than 12 hours after the role became available, that was June 8th. The hiring manager did not contact me until July 17th despite my direct email to her, I had pretty much given up hope. However once she reached out to me I was hired in less than 2 weeks. My reputation at IHG really went a long way to help me. She talked with several people I worked with last summer and they all said the same thing “Love her, hire her, don’t even interview her, just do it” Now I wish it had been that simple, I did go through an interview process but still, my manager pretty much had her mind made up before I walked through the door. Being an intern and doing a fantastic job is the fastest way to get hired. Amazing references will take you far in this industry!

Awesome. Your reputation is certainly valuable, so I’m glad to hear you’re building a solid reputation already!

We can’t finish this interview without talking Momma Jen!

I have a unique perspective on all the UGA digital and AIMA assets. First and foremost my mother is an amazing woman, no doubt about that but lets be real being her daughter has its ups and downs. I have more opportunities to meet big players and go to more functions than the average student/entry level worker. My network is bigger and I have more contacts because my mother did great work 15 years ago (no she’s not old, just a young genius) for someone who knows someone. That being said I also have really weird conversations with people that I’m, trying to network with and impress and all they can picture me as is the cute little 5 year old that came to photo shoots and team builds. Those are very weird and awkward to navigate conversations because yes, I was cute but I’m not 5 anymore. The good of the big network definitely outweighs the bad of my pigtails every day of the week though. I didn’t not take my mom’s class at UGA (also I just need to state for the record that she followed me, I was in the middle of my sophomore year before she showed up). I had the option but never the desire to take her classes. She uses ,me in too many stories and examples and it is all for the benefit of her students, I just didn’t need to be in the room. As I’m sure you can imagine my dinner table talk was very different than most, I was the only 15 year old I knew who had to invoice their parents for their allowance and actively talked about how the store up the street had to be a front for drug money because there was no way that their business model worked. As many of her students and fellow workers have figured out she is a one of a kind person and like others she has shaped the way I look at the world and helped me find my place in it. Now unlike her students there were sometimes when I didn’t have a choice of whether or not to accept her influence (she’s not ignored easily when she buys you food…) but again she is right more often than not so it has all worked out for the best! I did go with her to Europe earlier this summer, as part of my graduation present (her job really does have some kick ass perks) but I stayed out of the classroom on this one too. That trip was more about exploring Europe for the first time and learning how to be on a month long vacation….it is seriously way harder than it sounds.

Thanks, Kathryn! We’re thrilled to have you, and excited to follow along in your future successes!

Interview and write-up by Steffan Pedersen (AIMA Blog Manager, Object 9 Social Media Director)