A Run for Her Money

This Georgia Tech grad works at a small marketing firm as communications coordinator. She manages promotional events such as Blue Planet Run

On the ignition organizational chart you will find my name under the title of "communications coordinator." However, I wear many hats from day to day. I conduct communications/media relations-related tasks such as writing press releases and executing viral marketing campaigns, but I also manage promotional events, brainstorm ideas for potential clients, and jump into any area where my assistance is needed. Working at a small company requires an "all-hands-on-deck" mentality, and ignition is no exception.

Ignition is an experiential marketing and media resource built on a passion for bringing brands to life around the world. The agency works with its corporate partners to create strategically focused and relevant brand messages that leverage the power of the human touch.

My current focus is building a multimillion dollar nonprofit organization, the Blue Planet Run Foundation, focused on global sustainability. The Foundation's first initiative is to bring safe drinking water to 200 million people by the year 2027. The signature event for the cause is the run.

The inaugural Blue Planet Run will begin in New York City in June, 2007. A team of 20 runners will circumnavigate the globe running relay style, traveling more than 12,000 miles in less than 100 days. The route roughly follows the 41st parallel after leaving New York City and will pass through 16 different countries before returning to the starting point.

I will travel with the relay team through the entire event and be responsible for local media management, sponsor relations, and special event execution. There is a lot to be done before the run begins, and I am fortunate to be involved in a majority of the planning and preparation on a daily basis.

8:25 a.m.—Time to leave the house for my four-mile drive to the office. Living close to work and not having to fight Atlanta traffic is great!

8:35 a.m.—I make a quick stop at my favorite local coffee spot, Octane, for a medium, non-fat café au lait.

8:45 a.m.—Get to my desk, unpack the computer, and do a quick e-mail check while reading through my personalized Google homepage for any exciting headlines.

9:00 a.m.—It's time for the "daily huddle." Every weekday our company has a short staff meeting we call the huddle. Everyone in the office, from the chairman to the interns, piles into our conference room and the satellite offices all dial into our conference line. We update each other on our respective projects, share key learnings, and give shout-outs.

9:30 a.m.—I check in with my boss. No need to leave the desk since we sit about 10 feet from each other. In fact, the majority of our project team sits in the same open space, facilitating collaboration.

9:45 a.m.—Begin tackling the to-do list. My first order of business is writing a press release about the Blue Planet Run Test Event. Eighteen runners traveled relay style around an 80-mile loop for a 48-hour period, allowing us to test our logistical assumptions. I drove the 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. shift. It was a blast!

11:00 a.m.—I attend a brainstorming session for a potential new client with a new product. I was specifically invited because I fall into the product's target demographic.

12:15 p.m.—Head to lunch with the senior V.P. of business development for catching up and a little mentoring. Keeping in close contact with senior level management here is easy, another perk of a small company.

1:20 p.m.—I'm back at my desk for an e-mail check and a few minutes' worth of work on the press release I started this morning.

1:45 p.m.—The Blue Planet Run team gathers in the conference room for our weekly call with the Blue Planet Run Foundation. This call allows our team to update the foundation on our progress, discuss any strategy changes, and talk through big decisions.

3:25 p.m.—I am finally able to finish the press release. In order to distribute it tomorrow, I now have to pull the contact information for a targeted list of reporters. Fortunately, we have a subscription to an online service that allows me to build a targeted list in a matter of minutes.

4:10 p.m.—Red Alert! I must stop everything and get this done first. The Blue Planet Run client needs 300 shoelaces sent to Colorado for a youth event this weekend. I work with our Global Logistics Center in Ocilla, Ga., to get the shipment out then follow-up with the client to confirm.

5:30 p.m.—After crossing off a few additional items on the to-do list, I am off to manage a slice of what ignition does best — bringing brands to life by producing branded experiences for their clients. This event is an internal company activity, however I have worked on beverage sampling tours, sporting event activations, and guerilla marketing programs.

7:00 p.m.— All is well at the event, and I finally head home.

7:20 p.m.— I cook a quick dinner and unwind while eating and watching a little television.

8:45 p.m.—Off to the gym. I typically get in an hour workout—30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical and 30 minutes of free weights.

10:00 p.m.—Shower, boot up the computer again, and drag out the to-do list. I check e-mail then work on tasks that are writing-intensive since it is much quieter at my house than in my office.

Midnight—The computer gets turned off until tomorrow and I watch TV until I fall asleep.

Getting your foot in the door at any company is easiest if you know someone who already works there. Networking is an important skill that will help you throughout your entire professional career, whether you are looking for a new job or looking for a new client (see BusinessWeek.com, 9/6/06, "The 'Do-Nots' of Networking").

However, while you are a college student your professional network is usually not very large or possibly non-existent. There is an effective way around this barrier — an internship. Being an intern might not sounds as fun as spending your spare time hanging out on the quad or playing intramural basketball, but believe me you will thank yourself during your final semester job hunt.

My career at ignition started as a receptionist during my junior year at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Management. I was hired to work five hours a week answering the phone, and a year-and-a-half later I was hired to help build the Blue Planet Run as a full-time employee.

The transition was possible because I was an intern who was willing to run errands, work late hours, and say "yes" to more than I could comfortably handle (see BusinessWeek.com, 6/20/06, "10 Top Goofs Interns Make"). I was fortunate that ignition employees quickly realized I was capable of taking on important tasks that came with more responsibility.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.