I ended the workday today in the exact same spot I started my first workday as a WSU staffer exactly two years ago. On March 16, 2020, I walked into my office in the Information Technology Building (true Cougs just call it “ITB”) and tonight I strolled out of it at a little past 5 p.m. During any other two-year stretch over the past several decades for American workers, those first two sentences wouldn’t hold much significance other than I didn’t screw up too much to get fired. But that was before something called COVID.
After that first day of work in March of 2020, I was told to work from home for a couple weeks as we tried to flatten the curve. However, those two weeks turned into nearly 16 months before I would return to the office on a hybrid schedule. During those nearly 500 days out of the physical office I did question whether I would ever be on campus again. So, the fact that I did celebrate my second anniversary with WSU in the same spot I started it is a point of pride for me.
Speaking of points of pride, just having the opportunity to work at Washington State University is one. To work on the campus where my dad earned his degree and where I spent many childhood Saturdays cheering on the Cougs were motivating factors when I applied.
In fact, two years later those motivating factors still inspire me. But to be honest, my main inspiration is no longer associated with the past but rather the present. I have an incredible team I get to collaborate with and no shortage of meaningful work I get to perform. It makes getting up in the morning quite easy.
My first year I was thrown right into the fire and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to contribute immediately. The pandemic was ramping up and it took us on an insane ride as we navigated and communicated throughout the numerous twists and turns of an unhinged virus. It was filled with constant statements, twice-per-month town halls, COVID-focused campaigns, academic schedule changes, and other pandemic-induced communications. Although I still got to do plenty of the duties listed on my social media strategist job description (paid social ads, analytics reporting, campaign generation, etc.) it was definitely more of a reactive year.
Things changed during this second year. It was less about working on the fly and more about embracing proactivity. I had the opportunity to craft strategy and experiment. I spent more time on content generation and social media platform building. More time planning videos and overseeing the growth of new social channels (looking at you, TikTok). More time diving into analytics and educating campus partners on the benefits of paid social.
Yes, I spent a lot of time during this sophomore year focusing on the core responsibilities of my job without as heavy of an emphasis on COVID stuff. But what I will really remember this second year for was the opportunity to branch out beyond social media-specific duties. I took on a leading role working with our enrollment management marketing agency. I was appointed to our strategic communications leadership team. I served on a committee with three other co-workers to foster community within our department. I chaired a search committee and served on a couple others. I volunteered to take the charge of submitting some of our department’s best work for national award recognition.
This growth was made possible by an amazing boss who has confidence in my abilities and my best interests at heart. I am so grateful to work under Holly Sitzmann, our University Marketing and Communications assistant vice president. Her leadership has made me a better professional while putting in perspective that work shouldn’t be all-consuming.
When it comes to my second year at WSU, I will look back on a few highlights. They include educating the WSU community on how to apply our modernized brand on social media, thinking outside the box with my team to implement creative marketing strategies when our football program played in the Sun Bowl, and presenting to the President’s Cabinet just last month. Again, these things wouldn’t happen without the support of my WSU mentors who include Holly, Dave Wasson (my previous supervisor), and more.
Working at WSU is pretty rad. I am so grateful for my hybrid work arrangement, chances to grow, and the talented individuals I get to work with on a daily basis. I am proud to be a Coug and I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that await in Year #3. Don’t Blink.