Could a work anniversary be anymore unique? Today I celebrate one year at Washington State University. On second thought, I think semantics are important in this case. Let me rephrase it this way: Today I celebrate one year with Washington State University.
I make this distinction in jest because I only spent a single day in the office during my debut year as a Coug. After that first day on campus in Pullman, due to the pandemic, I have worked entirely from home in Spokane. Although I joke about the strange circumstances and still use it as an icebreaker on Zoom when I meet someone new (believe it or not, I was just on campus for one day…), working remotely would not sour my first year working for WSU.
Except for a little thing called the Coronavirus, my social media strategist position has been exactly as advertised—which is a good thing because that is why I took the job. Paid social advertising, campaigns, analytics, and social media management for the WSU System channels were all focal points of the job description and turned out to be responsibilities I perform every day.
COVID-19 added some necessities to my plate such as virtual town hall organization, testing communication, and safe behavior outreach. Truth be told, there was never a time during my first year when the pandemic did not have a daily impact on what I did. Although the virus could be disruptive and scary, I always considered myself lucky that my position allowed me to stay as informed as possible. Working at a place with world-class scientists and excellent science writers will keep you abreast during a pandemic.
This first year at WSU I had the opportunity to give numerous presentations, devise/execute many plans, make recommendations, introduce new platforms, and provide trainings. This allowed me to not only contribute but more importantly it opened the “virtual” door to meet new people. Although some might believe that working remotely can hinder professional relationships, I never felt that way throughout the past 12 months.
It has been such a pleasure working with colleagues from different departments and campuses. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to work with non-WSU professionals in the Palouse community and social media managers at other institutions. But I can’t say enough about the people I have the joy of working with on a daily basis within the department that I am part of—University Marketing and Communications. From our news unit that I am housed under to our graphics team to our enrollment management marketing director to our web wizzes to our video crew to our dedicated magazine folks, I just feel fortunate to work with these folks who are so good at what they do.
I also feel extremely lucky to work for effective and humble leadership. We have a superb vice president leading our department who trusts the expertise of each individual in University Marketing and Communications. I also have incredible direct bosses who are supportive and empowering. When I was interviewing for this position I thought I want to work for these people and when I became part of the team my motivation to work for them strengthened even more.
Looking back on the first year, I have a few favorite things I worked on. The #PalouseUnity campaign, the 2020 WSU holiday video, our Coronavirus research awareness push, and the debut of our TikTok channel were all fun projects that also seemed to make a difference. Another bright spot from the first year was just the social media outreach I got to do with colleagues within the WSU System. Whether it was talking strategy, building paid social plans, or identifying key metrics to focus on when reporting analytics, my job was very rewarding because I got to help others at WSU reach their social media goals.
When I arrived at WSU I had to adjust to working at a university that was much bigger and had much more tradition than my previous institution. Thankfully, the person I work closest with was there to help me navigate the waters. Matt Haugen, our social media manager, has an immense amount of institutional knowledge and he has never withheld sharing it with me. His willingness to help me with the complexities and nuances of a system the size of WSU has made my job a lot easier and his own social media expertise has made me better at what I do.
I am proud to be part of the Coug family. When I started the job I wrote that first and foremost I just wanted to contribute. As I enter my second year I want to focus on doing the same. it seems like once you are able to add something of value to your team, everything else just falls into place. Go Cougs! Don’t Blink.