Career Success Story: From Non-profit Arts to Marketing for Startups

Emily Griffin has been a model, actress, singer, dancer, entrepreneurial crafter, and arts administrator. And, since completing our technical marketing course in the summer of 2014, she's added content marketing manager and social media guru to her long and diverse résumé. After finishing the program, Emily boldly took a role as the third hire at an early-stage startup that she was wildly passionate about. As these things often go, the company wasn't able to compensate her with ample pay, and offered her equity instead. After five months of bootstrapping her city lifestyle, she finally had to accept a more sustainable offer. Staying true to herself as well as her wallet, Emily waited for the perfect culture fit at 3Play Media before signing on the dotted line.


What was it like to be the third hire at a startup?

Working at an early-stage company is like entrepreneurship with training wheels. You're right there next to the founder(s), seeing what it takes to start a company from scratch with little to no resources. I gained invaluable experience helping with our pitch deck and even sitting in on investor pitches! I have a better idea of what it would be like if (when) I start my own venture someday. And I do think that will happen. But for now, I'm pleased to be focusing on my marketing skill set and contributing to an established company with some job security.[bctt tweet="Working at an early-stage startup is like #entrepreneurship w/ training wheels - @Emily_Griffin8"]

Tell us about your work at 3Play.

I joined 3Play Media in February 2015 as Content Marketing Manager. 3Play is a late-stage startup founded by a bunch of MIT business school grads. The 30-person team here in Cambridge is diverse in age and gender, and everyone is fun and laid back. I love the company culture. The leadership is incredibly horizontal—there's no CEO! It's a very collaborative, innovative environment.

I'm part of a three-person marketing team. As the content marketing manager, my main duties include writing blog posts, how-to pages, and white papers. I also manage our social media presence and create video clips for our website. The really fun part? I get to travel! A couple times a year I fly to different cities in the US for short conferences. My first one this past April was in Las Vegas, and I got to extend my stay for a short vacation. I feel so blessed to work here![bctt tweet="Culture @3PlayMedia is collaborative, innovative + laid-back, says @Emily_Griffin8"]

What skills are most key to doing your job well?

I'm exercising my college research skills for writing white papers, for sure. It's been very helpful to be on top of SEO best practices for producing and distributing our content. On the analytics side of things, I track conversions and traffic from social media and blog readership, so I can measure how my work generates leads. My experience with Google Analytics and Excel helps in that area.

Describe a “day in the life” in your role.

I start the day with a cup of tea while I read through my email, which includes subscriptions to many industry newsletters and list serves. I'll check Hootsuite for any mention of 3Play on Twitter or any links to our content that I can boost. I'll queue up the day's social media posts on Buffer and monitor Hootsuite throughout the day. I've created Twitter lists of different industry influencers, partners, and prospects so I can discover relevant content and nurture relationships.

I'll draft a blog post in word then format it in HTML on our Wordpress blog, proof it, and publish it with approval. Then, I might work on other projects, like video editing or white paper research. Sometimes I'll attend a marketing webinar for professional development, and then I'll apply my key takeaways to my job as much as possible. Oh, and if it's a Friday, I'll go for daytime yoga with a bunch of my coworkers.

What is your favorite campaign or initiative that you’ve worked on?

3Play has an Innovation Forum, which is kind of like a pitch day within the company. People present their hair-brained ideas, and if one of them sticks, we flesh it out. I joined a team to plan a new podcasting product (since I looooove podcasts). I helped with market research and presenting our plan, which is now under review by the executive team. I love getting to innovate on these side projects!

What do you find most challenging about your role?

Writing can be exhausting, especially when you've written about the same topics so many times. It's challenging to bring a fresh take to your content sometimes. Reading someone else's work usually helps me out of my bubble.[bctt tweet="Reading others' work helps to put a fresh spin on #content, says @Emily_Griffin8"]

Tell us a bit about your interview. What should candidates be prepared for in a marketing interview?

My interviews were very casual and informal. I had an in-person interview with the marketing director and marketing manager. It was the standard, "tell me about yourself," "what attracted you to this role?", "what attracted you to this company?' sort of thing. I didn't get any hardball or trick questions. I was asked about my experience with different tools or platforms, like Marketo, Wordpress, InDesign, video editing software, Word/Excel, Google Docs, etc.

My advice for that is that if a particular software or tool is mentioned in the job description, even if you've never used it, research what it is so you can address it. For example, I've never used Marketo, but I saw that it's a marketing database management software similar to HubSpot, which I have used. So you can spin it into a positive that you have relevant skills.[bctt tweet="Research before an #interview to draw connections to your experience - @Emily_Griffin8"]

The next time, I had 20-minute interviews with six different people. Those were rarely about my ability or skills and pretty much all about evaluating culture fit. They just wanted to know who I was, what I enjoy, what makes me tick—to see if I would like it there. My advice for that stage is to just try to relax and be yourself. They're not looking for the "right answer." They genuinely just want to feel comfortable around you. Also, don't be afraid to have a sense of humor.

What advice do you have for people who want to make a career change to marketing?

If you want to build a career in marketing, start by reading books and blogs about marketing. Subscribe to newsletters, join LinkedIn groups, listen to marking podcasts, attend free webinars, be active on Twitter, and go to networking events in person. You don't have to do all that at once or all the time, but try a little of everything. See what you enjoy the most, where you find a community, and what gives you the most value for your time.[bctt tweet="Want to be a #marketer? Explore resources + communities to find your niche - @Emily_Griffin8"]

Did Startup Institute prepare you for your work at 3Play?

Yes, absolutely. It gave me the orientation to the Boston tech startup scene that I needed in order to feel knowledgeable and welcome. Transitioning from the arts, I had never worked with HubSpot, hadn't heard of Salesforce, and didn't really know what UX meant. Now I feel like I'm in the know and can hold my own in conversations with other techies.

Can you share any advice for students enrolling in our digital marketing course?

Save your notes and coursework for future reference. You'll get so many great recommendations for resources and advice, and you'll want to look back at them down the road.

Photo credit: SI Boston alumna Mara Renz Smith