It’s been 7 months since Suzanna Mayer graduated from the Strategic Planning Bootcamp. We caught up with her to see how her career is going.
MAS: You graduated in December 2018. Tell us about your path to employment.
Suzanna: The Bootcamp took me from 0 experience to Brand Planner in one interview! I saw a brand planner job opening at one of my favorite agencies but wasn’t going to apply because it required 3-5 years of experience. It was for an agency I really admired, VMLY&R, who was (and is) doing some really great work across the board. I talked to a few of my teachers from the course and Stephanie Grendzinski, who oversees the Bootcamp in Atlanta, and they all advised to just go for it. Stephanie reminded me that the Bootcamp provides a lot of intensive experience within the 12-week program which is equivalent to several years of work experience. She was right. I got the job!
MAS: The Bootcamp is all about learning the most up-to-date skills used in strategy and building brands. Each week a strategy expert takes you through a different topic. What are some of the most important skill-sets you learned in the Bootcamp - skills you use in your job now.
Suzanna: This is a tough question because every weekend helped inform things I do day-to-day in my job now. I try to constantly remind myself of what strategy is and how it fits into the overall creative process so that I can do my best to give creatives the most useful information. Patrick White was our first weekend teacher who gave us an overview of the role of a strategist and I look back a lot on my notes from that weekend. Kendra King and Brian Miller taught a back-to-back weekend where we learned how to gather different types of useful qual. and quant. research and then distill them into various insights that help lead to great strategies. Those two weekends really informed the way I gather my own research and draw meaning from it. Rukmi Sahay and Kevin Murray really helped to push my work further, asking why every round which only made the insights work harder. Lastly, David Moreno was our tool kit teacher who taught all aspects of a strategic process and the tools needed to build a great strategic framework and plan. I am always thinking back on the lessons and topics from his class, also helps that he is now my Group Director and I get the chance to continually learn from him!
MAS: Work-based learning is an important aspect of the Bootcamp. Students apply the skills they learn to a live-client project. What skills did you learn during that project that you use now?
Suzanna: We worked with the Christopher Wolfe Crusade (CWC), a non-profit organization determined to fight the opioid epidemic. It was started by Cammie Wolfe Rice to honor of her late son, Christopher, who she lost to opioid addiction. I learned a lot from the project mostly about working with others on a campaign, mainly creatives and clients. Managing different peoples expectations and opinions, of your work and the work in general, can become really difficult and an entirely separate aspect of the creative process. In the end, listening to the client's needs and expectations is incredibly important and a must, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push them a little in a different creative or strategic direction you feel will help them achieve their goals. Additionally, incorporating multiple people’s opinions and thoughts ends up producing a better and more inclusive product. The more opinions, backgrounds, and thoughts you can consider and incorporate the better and more relatable the work will be.
MAS: What tips would you give to someone considering the Bootcamp?
Suzanna: Go for it, work hard early in the program, take tons of notes because you always need them later, and ask lots of questions. Lastly, Ama McKinley, a strategy student from the year before mine, reminded my group to go out and experience things and I think that's really important to remember and do. Trying new things and going out into the world can help to inspire you and your work, it helps you understand yourself as a strategist.
Before enrolling in the Boot Camp for Strategic Planning, Suzanna graduated from Washington & Lee University where she studied neuroscience and studio art.