This post is part of the Career Center’s bi-weekly roundup of alumni success stories. Check out Olivia Chow ’08’s story below, and find more SuCCess Stories here!
8 Questions with Olivia Chow ‘08
Major: Political Science
Grad Year: 2008
Current Job Title, Organization: Content Marketing Manager at finder.com
What did you do after graduation?
OC: I had received positive feedback two years in a row at the CC Fashion Show. So, after graduation, I decided to take my stab at fashion design thinking it could be a talent I could wield for social change. I went home to Massachusetts and found a local seamstress with 30 years of experience to teach me how to sew in exchange for my work in her shop.
A few months later I met a couture fashion designer while scouting a guest speaker for the organizer of the following year’s CC Fashion Show (the one held after I graduated). The guest speaker became my design mentor, and his guidance led me to jobs designing for the Gap, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein — just to name a few.
What are you up to now?
OC: Something different. I just completed three months of in-depth consumer and market research for the finder.com Money Transfer Awards 2017 — that’s more than three blocks! This study was for finder.com, a personal finance product comparison site, which includes comparing global payment services. These services support the $141 billion remittance industry by getting immigrant funds back to their home countries.
The thing is, my team conducted a preliminary survey that revealed 80% of Americans sending money across borders felt “ripped off”. As a result, the awards largely centered around understanding why this disproportionate dissatisfaction exists. We’re now taking the findings to improve the finder.com comparison products, get feedback from industry experts, and let consumers know there are alternatives to Paypal and Western Union. Hopefully some will feel a little less “ripped off”.
Tell us about your current position:
OC: I understand an audience and create something they’d appreciate so much that they’ll share or link to it. This process involves researching trends, talking to influencers, and genuine interest in the relevant communities. I then have the license to write articles, conduct research, produce videos, develop apps, and create whatever else that could go live on the internet — as long as I can make a case that the business’ marketing needs will be met.
I’m a big proponent of getting paid to do what you’d do anyways. I’m obsessed with learning and understanding why the world is the way it is — in particular, the people that keep it perpetually evolving. Ultimately, for the same reasons I was accepted to CC, I find myself a natural fit for this position.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
OC: Getting to hone my natural talents and create work somebody out there finds useful and enjoyable — to be part of a dialogue. I also appreciate just having the opportunity to have a positive influence on the personal finances of everyday people and bring some consumer transparency.
What does your typical day look like?
OC: I fight the fish market seekers for sidewalk space as I walk to the New York Chinatown office. It can be an adventure. Depending on the day, I spend my time on a combination of things. I could be writing, monitoring research, planning the next project, or going to meetups to stay up-to-date and learn from others.
Has your career path changed at all from graduation to now? If so, how?
OC: I’d say so. I went from non-profits to fashion design to trend forecasting (all while developing a journalism and sales career). These transitions were before I landed in content marketing. I’m proud to say that each career built off the last never having to sacrifice a pay cut or go back to school to make the next pivot.
What are the transferable skills you took from your liberal arts education?
OC: Being able to digest large amounts of information in a short amount of time, ask critical and thoughtful questions, and communicate my learnings were skills that were drilled repeatedly at CC. The professors were right. These liberal arts pillars are no joke.
I also can’t forget to mention the entrepreneurial resources and ecosystem Colorado College provided. You can put on a program or event that you’re passionate about just by consulting faculty and deans for advice, recruiting sponsors by learning to build your case, and thinking creatively about how to get others involved. I suppose this is what people call “networking”.
Speaking of which, one student organization I was heavily involved with was the school environmental group, EnAct. There, I met one of my current finder.com co-workers and fellow CC alumni, Adrienne Kmetz. I think these foundational skills and experiences have given us both an edge in contrast to those with more vocational backgrounds.
What advice would you give to students looking to find a job in your field?
OC: Find something you’re curious about and start putting stuff up on the internet! I’d say this for any field you’re entering, actually. Although we spend hours online daily, most of us lurk rather than contribute. This is obscenely true even within the digital marketing profession. So, taking the time to publish your ideas in whatever form you prefer can definitely set you apart.
This process is also a great vehicle to teach yourself the ins and outs of digital marketing, which leads me to another piece of advice: learn how to educate yourself. Use the structure at CC to take note of what learning styles and frameworks appeal to you — and don’t. We live in a fast-paced world that rewards those that never stop learning.
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