Interview with Ellie Damashek ’09

1) What is your current occupation?

I am a Brand Strategist for Lifetime TV at Horizon Media, the largest independent media advertising agency. We plan marketing strategies for Lifetime’s program premieres, essentially aiming to have as many people as possible, within the target audience, tune in to premiere.

2) How was your Vassar experience helpful in getting you where you are today?

The multidisciplinary mix of my Media Studies major gave me a broad background that I can apply to my job. Clients are always looking for new ways to reach consumers, whether it’s through new media or out-of-the-box experiential events and beyond. The explorative format of my Media Studies classes echoes our brain-storms tackling challenges the client wants to overcome. Like any job or project, working in groups is key, and since every Vassar major I can think of incorporates group work, it can only help in understanding the work-environment dynamic.

Many in this industry come from undergraduate backgrounds majoring in marketing or advertising only, not liberal arts, and I feel fortunate to have the breadth that Vassar offered. I’m only three years into my career, and I think it’s an invaluable security to have down the line if I choose to switch things up professionally.

3) What is your fondest memory of Vassar?

Picnicking by sunset lake in the Spring after my thesis was handed in!

4) Did you further your education after Vassar?

Not yet. I’ve considered night classes to explore more creative outlets, but in New York and in my industry it’s a challenge to find 9-to-5 jobs that allow that. If you can find one, take it!

5) If you could go to Vassar again, what would you do differently?

I would have made the time to go to more lectures and events. I often felt overwhelmed by how much there was to do, but I should have just penciled it in! I also wish I’d pushed myself to just bite the bullet, wake up early and wait in line for the awesome cheap concerts we had, no matter how in-demand the tickets were.

6) What advice do you have for incoming freshmen?

Have fun and cast a wide net of people you interact with. I remain close to my Vassar friends I spent the most time with during my four years there, but more recently I’ve deepened friendships with people I didn’t necessarily get to know while we were on campus. You never know who’s path you’ll cross again, so it’s nice to broaden your network in your formative years at Vassar.

7) What advice do you have for graduating seniors?

Breathe, and if you have the luxury of time and enough money to get by, take a moment to think about what you really want to do and then go for it. It’s easy to take a job for the sake of taking a job, and then get stuck in a place where you’re not engaged to your full potential. Take the time to reconnect with your personal goals every so often so you don’t discount what you really want to do. Coming from experience, I know it’s difficult to have this perspective when all you want is a J-O-B, but in the long run this moment and this first job will likely only be a part of your story. Also, focus more on making connections than applying to jobs online through mass career sites; it will likely be the more fruitful route.

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