The Rich and Glamorous Life of a Marketing Strategist

Ever since I was young, I wanted to be an artist. I loved drawing and making things, so artist it was.

I was a good student, definitely leaning toward English and social studies, but held my own in math and science with a little studying. Art was discontinued in my school because of budget cuts and my family couldn’t afford lessons of any sort, but I didn’t lose hope.

As senior year began, the guidance counselor still had my chosen profession recorded as commercial artist, even though the only art I’d been creating over the past four years were posters for my high school sports teams (a main responsibility in my role as cheerleading captain). Schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and friends filled my time but soon I had to decide what to do about college.

My twelve grade English teacher recognized my writing ability and encouraged me to check into a local university’s communications program. I enrolled, loved my classes, and used my artistic ability to critique and layout publications. But training to be a commercial artist, I was not.

While in school, I used my diverse communication skills and gained invaluable experience working in the university’s publications department writing for a staff newsletter, assisting with desktop publishing, learning about printing and interning with the sports information office. I particularly enjoyed using my skills in the field of sports communications and pursued that avenue after graduation. I received my Master’s degree in public relations while working as a sports information director for a women’s athletic program. Soon after, I completed a highly competitive internship at the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs.

As my professional career began, I worked as a public relations coordinator at a telephone company and a marketing manager at a community theatre. Although not in sports, I loved the variety these positions offered. A few years and one wedding later, I moved to St. Cloud and found a new opportunity at an advertising agency.

I was a little hesitant because in my mind communications and advertising were two very different fields. But I faced the challenge head-on and had a successful 12-year career at this agency before going out on my own with Gaslight Creative.

Except, of course, I am not on my own. I forged a partnership with co-worker and friend Jodie Pundsack. While she is the creative director and a legit commercial artist, my creativity comes in the form of counseling clients and helping them grow their business. In fact, my business card says that I am a marketing strategist.

I do enjoy learning about other people’s businesses, growing my own business, and passing on my wisdom to my fellow Gaslighters. And I love being a part of the creative team. But it wasn’t long ago that I was a hesitant business owner. I was unsure although everyone around me knew I could do it. To those who know me best, a career in communications and now as a business owner has been – and is – a no-brainer.

And although I never dreamed of being a marketing strategist or a business owner, I’ve learned that each and every choice you make leads you down a path you were meant to follow. The journey of your career probably won’t fit neatly into a list of professions the guidance counselor hands you in ninth grade. But if you are open to new experiences and challenges, you may find yourself somewhere you’ve never imagined – in a job you were born to do.

Like me.

Written by Kelly Zaske, Marketing Strategist