03/31/2023 12:42 pm
For Women’s History Month, we wanted to chat with some women on Rockford University’s campus in leadership roles. We’re ending our series with our new Director of Marketing and Communications: Andrea V. Watson.
High school junior Andrea never imagined she’d be the Director of Marketing and Communications at Rockford University — or any higher ed institution for that matter. Like many young people, I started out with tunnel vision, knowing exactly where I planned to go to college and where I’d end up working. I didn’t know then that my interests and passions would change as I grew older.
I received my B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and my M.A. in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. Most of my career was spent in fast-paced work environments where I was able to focus on my love of storytelling, while always meeting new people. In addition to writing and editing, I enjoyed analyzing digital and social media metrics, developing strategic plans, and creating new user engagement opportunities.
I also knew that many of my digital and editing skills would be transferable, but I just didn’t know at which point I’d switch careers. Well shortly after one of my former Chicago newsrooms folded, I landed a job with Chicago Public Schools. The communications department had a new digital media manager role which I was offered.
I quickly realized I could still use my writing and digital skills while amplifying the school district’s message through strategic planning. I think it was during that job that I truly began to see a different career path as a realistic possibility for myself.
I believe that my background will help me in my new role because many of my skills are transferable. In all of my previous journalism jobs, I’ve had to find ways to market our content. I had to build relationships with the community, elected officials, businesses, sponsors, and more. I’ve grown my digital and multimedia skills over the years. Also, having a journalism background gives me an advantage when it’s time to pitch stories about RU to the media. I’ve seen plenty of what doesn’t work.
Aside from my career background, I was once a college student. I enjoyed my college experience and made the conscious decision to stay in Illinois for my education. I remember what worked for me. I was also very involved on campus. I was a student and parent orientation leader. I helped spearhead UIC’s Transfer Student Advisory Council. I participated in three of our student support programs and actively mentored freshmen.
I never stop celebrating, honoring and supporting women, but during Women’s History Month, I make a special effort to attend local events and exhibits.
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