Whitman Voices


Alumni of the Week: Joe Simek ’15

Alumni of the Week: Joe Simek ’15

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAPHAAAAJGQ0MGVlNGM2LTRmOWQtNDE4MS04NjJmLTk2NzBjODQwZDQ1YQI first applied to the Martin J. Whitman School of Management because I was undecided and liked the idea of wearing a fancy suit in a NYC skyscraper someday. Turns out, you change your mind a lot during college—so much so that now I pull up to the two-story building where I work in Los Angeles wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and I could not be happier.

Whitman played a large role in helping me choose and land my first job out of college. Step one was to decide on a major. SOM 122, Whitman’s introductory business course, highlighted different majors and career paths, while Career Madness gave me real-life examples of what could be done with a Whitman degree. I soon decided that marketing was the perfect way to pair my people skills with my interest in brands.

I always understood the importance of a resume, so I would jump at any opportunity to gain experience. This happened frequently at Whitman. I gave tours to prospective students as a Whitman Ambassador, acted as a peer facilitator for a group of first-year students and even participated in a consulting project for a digital marketing firm. During all of this, it occurred to me that I could add a second major and still graduate in four years. Advertising seemed like it would complement marketing the best, and I was sold once I calculated that I still would have time to study abroad for a semester. Plus, I knew this would help me stand out on paper—resume paper that is.

I was sure to update Carol Heil, Whitman’s director of undergraduate recruitment and college relations, on my new dual major because she was always so supportive and had the best advice. Her first reaction was to connect me with a recent alumna who too was a Whitman-Newhouse dual major. It was then that I realized the importance of establishing connections. At the time, I was trying to land an internship in advertising, but I barely knew anyone in the industry. It was difficult until I learned how to reach out to alumni. Fortunately, I had worked on a project with Cindie Adams, Whitman’s executive director of alumni and corporate relations. Her database of alumni and knowledge of networking opened a whole new world of opportunities.

Deutsch LA ended up being my dream company, yet no alumni were currently Deutsch employees. I knew I couldn’t rely strictly on my resume, so I had to network in a less traditional way. An alumnus knew someone who worked at Deutsch LA, but I had to do the reaching out without knowing the contact’s email. I first engaged with him on Twitter. Then Twitter turned to LinkedIn. And LinkedIn turned to email. Once I had his email, I set up a time for us to talk on the phone and eventually went into the office to learn more about Deutsch and further express my interest prior to applying.

I was accepted as one of eight students to participate in D-Prep, a 10-week internship program that I saw as a 10-week interview to be a full-time employee. I must have passed the interview, because now I work at Deutsch LA full-time as a junior digital strategist.

On a typical day, I monitor social conversations around a few of the brands that we do social media work for (Taco Bell, Volkswagen, Target, etc.) and maintain a grasp on what is going on in pop culture. I definitely did not always know that this would be my dream job out of college, but I did know that my experiences and connections would prepare me if they came from Whitman.

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Joe Simek
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