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Freshly Mentored: One student’s success story in DMAW’s Mentor for a Day Program

written by Brittany Barkes

Back in the spring of 2011, I was a generally confused junior at the University of Delaware who was sick and tired of hearing, “Well, what do you want to do with an English degree?” I can’t deny that I often felt insecure about my future when I was constantly bombarded with these types of questions. All I knew was I loved to write and I hated every moment of AP calculus.

By junior year of college I realized just how much I loved advertising and marketing. While the thought of entering the corporate business world frightened me, I couldn’t resist the appeal of combining creative writing with marketing strategy. That’s when I decided to pursue an advertising minor.

So there I was, sitting in my intro to marketing class, surrounded by an overwhelming number of business school students, when my professor mentioned the DMAW/EF Mentor for a Day Program. What did I really have to lose in applying?

By the summer, I had been accepted to participate and I headed off to Schultz & Williams.

The Philadelphia consulting firm was intimidating at first, as I bounced around to different offices learning about direct marketing campaigns and project management.

I spent time sitting down with various employees, from project managers to the VP of the department. It was overwhelming, but in just the right way.

I assumed I would have left my day at Schultz & Williams with new valuable marketing skills or at least an eye for creating the perfect business casual outfit. But my day taught me something more valuable than that—it taught me that I wasn’t defined by my major.

The office was filled with former English, psychology, and history majors who shared a similar passion for business. They made me feel as though they once had similar anxieties about finishing college and entering the dreaded “real world.”

While this lesson doesn’t seem like much, it helped me look at my future in a whole new way. I wasn’t limited by a choice I made before I came to college.

It was this same mentality that led me to search for jobs a little out of my comfort zone. Though I was frequently discouraged, I mastered the post-grad summer of endless cover letters and resumes.

A few months after graduation, I took a job as an intern for a web design and internet marketing company that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO). Now a year later, I’m working full time as a copywriter and SEO consultant for the same company.

I don’t know that I would have applied to my internship if I was still in the mindset that I had to be a teacher, or a librarian, or a technical writer. But here I am.

If you are given a unique opportunity, like the chance to participate in DMAW’s Mentor for a Day program, take advantage of it. The lessons you learn from opening your eyes to new experiences are more valuable than anything you learn in a textbook (don’t tell my professors I said that). Your future is for you to define.