Archive for March, 2016

Have you considered INTEGRATE 2016 and IMC 621?

March 31, 2016


Spoiler Alert…. This is my hard sell (I am not a spectacular sales person, so pun intended) for INTEGRATE 2016 and IMC 621 (the professor and curriculum are updated for 2016). I understand there are a lot of electives and we are in a digital program, however sometimes real-life connections and a class that was not on your agenda are worth the risk.

As many of you know, WVU is hosting INTEGRATE conferences in multiple locations. However, the flagship event is hosted in Morgantown and IMC 621 ‘Current Topics in IMC’ is centered around INTEGRATE 2016. Check out WVU’s 31 reasons to #attendINTEGRATE.

My journey to INTEGRATE started at DTW, continued through PIT and on to Morgantown:

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The conference is well organized, moves quickly and provides you with information that you will be able to draw upon in future classes. Personally speaking while attending, I was able to use information that Scott Cuppari shared regarding Coca-Cola’s age limit for advertising in IMC 619.The collaboration and participation across faculty, administration and students was amazing; #integrate15 even trended locally and shows the impact this group has in the social space.

Beyond just the conference agenda, for those of you curious around the expectations of Capstone, I highly recommend the overview that kicks off INTEGRATE. Those in 621 followed the Capstone prep with a class meeting. So why am I making a hard sell of INTEGRATE and IMC 621? INTEGRATE has a plethora of content that I would never have discovered before IMC 621; what grad student has time to watch that, unless it is part of your class?

Social and digital media are excellent, but real life connections still matter. Having the WVU IMC program online is probably the only way I would be able to complete my Master’s degree. But the ability to make real world connections with classmates, faculty and teachers was tremendously helpful.

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 Retrieved from

Talking and spending time with people can dramatically change your impression of them, particularly if the only other interactions you have had are through their written words. What’s not to love about attending a great conference, as part of a class where you learn and discover excellent integrated marketing messages from analytics, to direct marketing and everything in between?

Understanding their backgrounds, jobs and families outside of what you have seen or read online is an important component to interpersonal connections. In addition, most of my relationships with the Professors did not extend beyond our classes, so being able to spend time learning about their careers and the classes they teach is very impactful. Had I not been so far into the program, I probably would have changed some of my electives based on those discussions.

Real world connections are not just good for our brains, they are good for our health too. “When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health” (Matter, 2013).

Matter, G. (2013, March 23). Your Phone vs. Your Heart. The New York Times. Retrieved from

What is your Grad school routine?

March 22, 2016


my desk

Whenever I tell people I am in graduate school, the most common question I hear is “how do you do it?” They ask this because in addition to graduate school, where I doubled up twice: I oversee a team of 30, travel every two weeks or so, am married and have twin four year olds. I must admit, during the last two years, there are times when I have not done any of those things well and I definitely could not have done it without a supportive husband. So how did I do it? Get into a routine and stick to it; that routine might mean your normal routine is no longer normal.

I always order my book(s) before the semester begins, which allows me to read the first two chapters of the main book ahead of time. Have I had a teacher start in the middle of the book? Yes, but either way the chapters I have read usually help me get into the mindset of the class and I can typically use them for citations.

The next thing I do is create a folder on my desktop for the current class so that I can work on it no matter where I am (I back the folder up on Google Drive). I also create a new bookmark folder for the current class (I then move each class to a school master bookmark folder). You could use Pinterest, One Note or any other bookmarking tool to do this. I highly recommend doing this as I have used these bookmarks in multiple classes and I usually remember which class I wrote about the topic, making it easier to find. From there, it is time to create a couple of Word documents; one for the weekly discussion board posts and one for the weekly writing assignments. On the discussion board posts, I copy the weekly assignments onto the document and write below it. This helps me ensure that I am hitting all the points of the discussion and that I have the question for reference if something similar comes up in another class. I also put each week’s new question at the top. I do this so it is documented and doesn’t take me scrolling down, but also because I find that I use a lot of references more than once and I can copy and paste within the document. For the Word document, I create a template of sorts, with my title page, header/footer to the appropriate class. I also set the overall section heads and a few reference examples so I do not forget the format.

Once the class is on blackboard, I download all of the extra readings and put them in weekly folders within my class folder. I review the first week’s assignment before the lesson. I do this because it gives me an idea of what we are going to be writing about. I will copy the weekly discussion post into my document as well as the weekly writing assignment. When I am reading the lesson, I can pull quotes from the materials that I may want to cite. This also allows me, when I am able to multitask, to look for relevant articles online and bookmark them.

Aside from the first week, I typically try to do all of the reading between Sunday and Monday. I try to have my weekly discussion board posts written and up on Tuesday. I respond to four of my classmates on Thursday morning, I wake up at 430 am most days so I can get this out of the way before my real job starts. Over the course of the last few semesters, I have actually modified this slightly but by Thursday night, my minimum of four is typically done. On Friday during the day and evening I reply to anyone who has responded to my post.

As far as my papers during the week, as I mentioned I am trying to find relevant articles and figure out my approach or topic. On Friday, depending on how many replies, I will begin the writing process. Saturday evening I will usually finish writing my paper and I post it on Sunday after I have read it one more time. When I doubled up I had to do more writing throughout the week and even during the day on the weekends. Finishing the papers Sunday allowed me to start the next week’s work.

Between traveling and work events, I never know when I will have time to do school work. In addition, there is usually one night a week that I fall asleep by 9 pm; call it a combination of physical and mental exhaustion but I just have to roll with it. Having my homework done ahead of time allowed me not to panic in any of these situations.

The hardest semester for me was summer. You see in Michigan it is really hard to stay inside ;). Don’t get me wrong, there have been huge sacrifices, virtually no exercising, not spending enough time with my family and way too much caffeine. But overall it has been totally worth it!

Leveraging IMC to Land the Job

March 8, 2016


A few months ago, I made the career transition I had been dreaming about for years, and I can say with all sincerity that I could not have done it without the WVU IMC program.

I’ll give you a short situation overview. After undergrad, I found myself working at a greeting card company, and while at first it seemed like the ultimate 500 Days of Summer gig, I quickly realized that this paper-and-ink industry didn’t quite pack the punch my millennial mind was hungry for. In October 2015, a digital marketing opportunity in the fashion retail industry presented itself in a way that seemed to shout “Rachael! This one! This is it!” in flashing neon lights, and I applied just as quickly as I could update my resume and cover letter, proudly boasting my in-progress Master’s degree front and center. The same day, I got a call from a recruiter. After a brief chat, I was scheduled for a series of interviews, for which I began preparation immediately. Spoiler alert: I got the job (yay!). Here are the steps that helped me do it:

Draw Comparisons

It can be easy to get (over)excited about all the new competencies in your marketing repertoire, but it’s important to stay organized and succinct in your message (IMC students/alumni – sound familiar?). To accomplish this task, I listed next to each bulleted item in the job description:

  • A specific work situation showcasing my experience in the area
  • A learning outcome achieved from an applicable IMC course

This exercise guided me in condensing my background into a few key points, allowing me to thoughtfully articulate my ability to fulfill each element of the job in the interview.

Gather Sources

As we learn in IMC, your argument is only as strong as your source. So in discussion board fashion (professors, be proud!), I came to the interview armored with research: quotes and figures to cite from reliable industry sources. When the time was right, I used these to add spice to the conversation or as the basis for an insightful question. Something like:

“I came across a quote from the VP of Digital Marketing in a recent Harvard Business Review article regarding the mobile app’s newly introduced native commerce. What has been the impact to mobile conversion rate since this addition?”

Communicate a Love of Learning

Was I a cookie-cutter match for the job? Probably not. But good hiring managers understand that candidates rarely fit the description in its entirety. I can say that what I lacked in experience, I made up for with a willingness – nay, a passion – to learn. Discussing my IMC coursework opened up the broader conversation of being self-motivated and eager to develop new competencies. Sure, just about anyone can say that in an interview if they wanted, but I had a big, bold line in the education section of my resume that spoke for itself. I’m speculating, but I think this factor was imperative in the manager’s ultimate decision to extend the offer.


Oh, and the hiring manager had a degree in IMC too..did I forget to mention that?