On behalf of our entire #BrandMatewan team, thank you for joining along with us as we had the pleasure of giving back to an extraordinary West Virginia community! It was natural to allow the collision of history and adventure, a perfect guide to our initiative.
Although my presence in the Matewan Community Branding Initiative was fairly quiet from the outside, I, too, gained a wealth of experience, knowledge, and professional growth. My position as account supervisor filled in the blanks, and was a place I was able to expand my passion for leadership, but it also served as a learning environment to me. Because of my commitment to being a year round student-athlete, I felt a step behind my peers having never completed an internship in my field. I am appreciative for my role in this initiative, and especially Dr. Colistra, as I feel equipped with these necessary tools and skills to be a successful professional. My graduate assistantship has kept me in an academic setting, but downplayed my perfectionist-to-a-fault student qualities, and taught me to have a rich sense of passion for the work I do.
Over the course of the semester, not one day was similar to another. I loved this! I encountered new challenges that allowed me to experiment with each day. Some of my tasks included communication (with our students, Matewan community members, the web designers, professional collaborators, other professors, and the HUB), running this blog, editing the students’ first drafts of work before submission, and being the first line of communication between Dr. C and the students. I experienced first hand how to (and how not to) serve a client from 240 miles away, the challenges (and surprises) of communication, and to expect anything (and everything) in a community-branding project. From the some hilarious survey responses, to someone accidentally sending a fax to Dr. C’s cell phone during class, it was easy to smile in every step of our journey.
Upon my initial reflection, I envision Fall 2015 as a word cloud of burgundy foiled into hundreds of arrows of history and adventure adjectives going in every direction. It was an ongoing discussion that flooded my inbox and conversations daily. And honestly, I loved it. I took every chance I could to tell someone outside of the initiative what we were doing in the Reed College of Media.
As I sit down to deeply reflect, I see our students’ final presentation with the magnolia flower predominantly featured on the slideshow. I hear the dean of the college, the director of the HUB, and dozens of other professionals bounce to their feet in a standing ovation and address the students in disbelief, exclaiming they are stunned by what 10 students accomplished in four months. I feel the energy and buzz in the Innovation Lab, and most importantly, the enthusiasm from Matewan’s community members, with confirmation that this could work.
Here are a few things that I found stood out to me as the semester wound down.
Don’t forget the overall picture. As the presentation room filled up with
an eager audience moments before the reveal, I gathered the team together to
remind them of an important fact: their
work will change a community. It's easy to forget because of the
amount of work put forth and hours spent on the brand. However, as people would
see it for the first time, I reminded them to reflect and acknowledge the
incredible work they did, and that it will greatly impact peoples’ lives.
Be there. This is a task I challenge myself to
every day. If I am with someone or at something, I want to be fully aware and
involved. It is easy to get lost behind a screen or somewhere in my mind, but I
stress the importance to forever be fully attentive. I saw the team do this for
one another as the hours spent on the brand increased each day toward the
deadline. As Kelsey was creating the almost 200-page appendix for the campaign
book, she asked one of her teammates to simply sit with her and watch her do
it. A menial task for this person in theory; however, Kelsey struggled to do it
- Love your work. Seriously, LOVE your work! Dr. Colistra and I stressed this to the students every time they turned in an assignment, whether it was a blog post or a chapter in the book. If you are not proud of what you have done, chances are no one will be. If you are, really good things can come of your work (like a complete community rebrand).
One part of WVU that I adore is the opportunity to give back and pay it forward. As the largest university in the West Virginia, I believe we are held to a responsibility to provide services and assist our state. In my first blog post, I spoke about how West Virginia’s loyalty, beauty, and pride made this state become my home, and after this branding plan, I feel an even deeper connection with the mountain state.