Jordyn Mihok

Alumni Spotlight: Karina Alfisher ’17

Alumni Spotlight: Karina Alfisher ’17 Senior Merchandising Manager at The Grommet

Karina Alfisher ’17 knows all about the importance of getting an early start acquiring work experience. As an undergraduate, she was committed to advancing her professional career as early as possible, starting her first internship at Reebok HQ her sophomore year. From there she was able to stick with the company for two more summer internships as well as receive a full-time job offer upon graduation.

From her time at Reebok to her current role as Senior Merchandising Manager at The Grommet, an online marketplace and discovery platform for consumer products, Karina has gotten a taste of working at both large and small companies. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of both and the decision depends mainly on the type of environment and role you’re seeking. For Karina, her move to the Grommet had her looking for a role that would allow her to have her own part of a business and challenge her with goals she could control. In terms of some of the benefits she sees with a smaller company, she says your everyday contributions have a larger impact on the company’s success, and you can immediately see the results of your work. One of the advantages of a larger company, however, is having more strict processes and structure, which for some people can help with staying organized.

In Karina’s current position, each day can be different. Her team works with almost every team at The Grommet, allowing her to work on a variety of projects at once. At it’s core, her group is responsible for discovering unique consumer products from small businesses and partnering with them to onboard them to their site. Some of her typical tasks include online research, attending trade shows, and networking with industry leaders to identify the latest trends helping to deliver products that will be most impactful for consumers. One of her favorite things about her job is working with small businesses, she was even able to partner with an old friend during the pandemic helping her boost her candle-making company.

As for advice she has for current undergraduates looking for summer internships or full time roles, she emphasized the importance of starting internships or rotational programs as early as possible, as they can be helpful in figuring out what roles and industries you like. Additionally networking and building relationships with your professors can be beneficial, she says, “they are a really great resource having either worked in the industry you’re interested in or knowing others who have. You can learn a lot from them.”

Undergraduate Spotlight: Entertainment Marketing with Allied Global Marketing

Mackenzie Jacob is a senior Business Management major with minors in Digital Marketing & Analytics and Political Science. This past summer, Mackenzie interned with Allied Global Marketing, a full-service integrated marketing agency based in Washington D.C. As a Field Marketing Intern, she researched and executed promotional strategies for more than 25 feature films in the Washington D.C. area, with clients including big names like Universal, Hulu, Netflix, and Walt Disney Studios. In addition to this, Mackenzie worked with securing partnerships for promotional events and campaigns as well as assisting with the operations and promotion of film screenings.

This position solidified Mackenzie’s passion for entertainment marketing and showed her how fast the industry moves. “I looked at everyday like a new opportunity to prove myself to my team,” she says, “I made sure to create my own opportunities to support the team and stay involved, this strategy was key in making my internship as meaningful as possible.”

Although Allied Global Marketing is a massive company, with over 24 offices worldwide, each is run like a boutique agency, with 15 person teams including a director, junior and senior level publicists, and account coordinators. This allowed Mackenzie to be very involved in the day-to-day workload, making a meaningful impact within the company.

One piece of advice Mackenzie has for students looking to get into entertainment marketing is, “Don’t take no for an answer. The entertainment industry is notorious for rejection, especially during the COVID-19 shut down, so don’t be discouraged by rejection. Keep reaching out and networking no matter what.”

Alumni Spotlight: Kristen Waddington ’20

Alumni Spotlight: Kristen Waddington ’20 Senior Associate, Client Leadership at Kantar

Kristen Waddington ’20 didn’t always know what career path was her best fit. She entered the UConn Business in London Program wanting to focus on public relations but eventually switched gears. After working on a survey analysis project, she found a passion for marketing research. Returning for her senior year, she took on a rigorous course load, minoring in Data Analytics and choosing a concentration in Digital Marketing and Analytics to expose herself to as much of the data process as possible.

This led her to her current role as a Senior Associate, Client Leadership at Kantar, a marketing research firm located in New York City. From the moment she interviewed, Kristen recognized Kantar as an excellent match, saying, “the people were very kind and upbeat and cared about what you were saying.” As she has spent more time at Kantar in both their Health and Insight sectors, she has only good things to say about the support system at the company despite the fact that it is a large firm with around 30,000 employees. Her boss during her time in Kantar Health is someone she believes “holds the gold standard of what a boss should be like,” and is a personal example of the welcoming and comfortable environment at the company.

In her current role, Kristen handless the Marketing Research process from start to finish in a client facing role. This consists of running kick off calls and coordinating with clients to make sure their goals are aligned. Additionally, she will work with a program leadership team to ensure surveys are programmed directly. The most important aspect of her position is producing final reports for clients by analyzing data and communicating results with them.

As for current students looking for internships or full-time roles, Kristen’s advice is simple: build genuine connections. During her search, she applied to over 200 jobs, and the only ones she heard back from were those where she made a connection with someone at the company or applied through UConn Handshake. Early 2020, she was able to connect with a UConn alum who worked in Marketing Research in New York for the past 10 years. That allowed her to get her resume sent to Kantar internally and interview before the formal interviewing process begun for other applicants.

Finally, she stressed the importance of preparing for interviews, discussing how she accumulated over 50 pages of company background and interview question prep in a word document to prepare for her Kantar interview. The biggest takeaway from her experience is to not get discouraged, keep making connections, and keep persisting even in the face of burn-out and rejection. “Practice makes perfect. The more interviews you do, the more confident you will get which I promise will take you far.”