Monthly Archives: January 2019

Yeah, she does that! Jennifer Verscha, reigning ‘Coordinating Queen’ at dphilms

WIU-QC Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Verscha

Meet Jennifer Verscha, a key member of the team at dphilms, which is based in Rock Island, IL, and has produced projects for clients and organizations ranging from the WIU-QC campus itself to Fortune 500 companies. When revealing and promoting finalized creative projects, dphilms often uses the hashtag #yeahwedidthat. When it comes to looking into dphilms’ projects, it’s clear that when asking if Jennifer was involved, the answer is “yeah, she did that!” Learn about how Verscha managed to complete her degree while working full-time, why she recommends WIU-QC to others, and advice she’d give to undergraduates.

portrait of a young woman in a khaki jacket

Verscha poses at the site of a film shoot in Fall 2018.

Interview with Jennifer Verscha

Where do you work and what is your current job title?
I’m the Executive Producer / Coordinating Queen at dphilms.

What was your major and when did you graduate?
I majored in Business Management with a minor in Marketing in December 2004.

Why did you choose that major?
I’ve always enjoyed helping others achieve their goals, and being in business management would allow me to do so. I also knew that one day I wanted to be in upper management or own my own business, and the Bachelor of Business Management degree would give me this foundation. With Marketing, I get to utilize my creative side.

photo of a young woman in a black t-shirt working on a film set

The Coordinating Queen assists in everything from creative projects to HR tasks and scheduling.

What did you like most about your major?
I loved the diversity of classes that I was able to choose from, to help keep me on my toes. I really enjoyed “Dr. E.,” Dr. Jim Patterson, and Dr. Ann Walsh, (former marketing professor). These three professors were caring and engaging. They were able to bring reality/real-world experiences into the classroom. They are relatable and down to earth. They truly made my learning experience at WIU fun and enjoyable.

I also loved all of my Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration (RPTA) and Marketing classes. Tourism; event planning; and marketing products and services, were so fascinating to learn about. My favorite class was an event planning class, where we were able to create, plan, market, and execute our own event, “Professional Eye for the College Grad.” My favorite memories were in Dr. Walsh’s class when we created that event. We went all-out, by providing food and drinks for those in attendance, mock interviews, and vendor booths for local business. We even did a photoshoot and made colorful marketing materials to promote the event…plus the local media was there to cover it.

All of these classes have helped me immensely throughout my career path. I worked for our local CVB for a few years; I was a catering manager for a local hotel; in charge of marketing at a local mall; chaired multiple events for local non-profits, raising thousands of dollars for our community; and produced Fearlessly Girl Live, an anti-bullying assembly with more than 1,000 girls live and 2,000 girls across 21 states watching live.

What are you responsible for in your position?
Tough question! A lot!!!! I help manage a crew of seven people, plus freelancers. I’m in charge of Marketing and Sales. (Website content, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, events, sponsorships…etc.) This includes meeting with clients, assisting them with video production to meet their marketing needs / goals, as well as estimating, scriptwriting, storyboarding, location and talent scouting, music selections, voiceover selection, teleprompter operator, assisting on shoots, scheduling, budgeting, HR functions, hiring…and so much more! Sometimes this also means being an extra in a video or doing voice over work. I get the best of both worlds: being in the office and the ability to be out in the community.

Young man and woman dressed in black tshirts and jeans working on lifting or putting together a banner.

Verscha works with editor Patrick McNamara to prep a shoot.

How did WIU-QC prepare you for your job?
In so many ways, WIU  prepared me for life. From fabulous and caring faculty and teachers that helped prepare me for the road ahead, to life lessons in lifelong learning and thinking on my toes.

Why did you choose WIU-QC for higher education? Why would you recommend Western to another person?
Here are three thoughts that come to mind:

  • “Local,”
  • “Cost Efficient”
    and
  • “Convenient Classes.”

I was able to go to school full-time while working full-time — and was debt-free when I graduated, as I paid for school each semester out of my own pocket. Plus, WIU has everything you need right here at home. Why go anywhere else, when the Quad Cities is a great community with a fantastic public university.

Is there a memory of WIU-QC that you often think about?
In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, I really enjoyed that the students at WIU-QC wanted to be at school to learn and grow as individuals. They weren’t stereotypical party students who were there because they were forced into learning by their parents. The caring atmosphere, staff, and students. The ability to work my full-time job schedule with my full-time schooling was invaluable.

I also remember taking a business class with Dr. E that was a blast, but I didn’t do so hot in. I believe it was my first and only D…ever. I can laugh at this now…but it wasn’t so funny back then.

What is one thing about your job that you didn’t expect, or that might surprise a current college student?
I do lots of not-so-glamorous things to help make our clients happy and our company run smoothly…lots of math, quick thinking, problem solving, many spreadsheets, data entry, and even cleaning up the office every now and then.

Young woman in black tshirt at work in a film editor's office

It takes two! Or an entire creative team, actually, and Verscha helps everything come together.

What advice can you offer to current college students who might be interested in going into your field?
Here’s some advice based upon what I’ve been learning as I go:

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
  • Learn something new from every person you meet and new experience you encounter.
  • No matter if they are younger or older…we all have important messages to share.
  • Don’t be scared to be yourself.
  • Push yourself to try new things and experiences.
  • Don’t put yourself in a bubble…make yourself vulnerable.
  • Go out on a limb and talk to the new person next to you.
  • Don’t be afraid of the CEO or man or woman in the suite, he or she is a person just like you.
  • Do go to social/networking events and sit with others you’ve never met and talk to them.
  • Do say yes to others. Do take on hard tasks and figure them out without having someone watch over you like a hawk.
  • Think for yourself yet know when to ask for help!
  • Take risks, especially when you are young.
  • Take internships.
  • Work hard. No real job comes with an owner’s manual…you must decide to dive right in, to sink or to swim, so that you rise to the top of the occasion!

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How do you get an internship helping a non-profit promote its mission?

Learn how Brianna LaMar is helping the a community organization communicate its mission as a “lifeblood” of support to its communities.

LaMar, a first-generation college student, has worked in the Office of the Vice President and has been a recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Doris& Victor Day Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship, in addition to entering the honors program at WIU-QC. Learn more about her experience, and advice, below.

young woman with blonde hair and purple shirt poses for portrait in front of blood-drop logo

Lamar, a Communication major from Coal Valley, IL, poses at the reception area at her internship site.

Interview

1. What is your internship title, and where do you work? When did you start? Do you have an end date?
My title is Marketing and Donor Promotions Intern at the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. I started in early October 2018, and it ends May 2019, upon receiving my Bachelors in Communication Studies at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities.

2. How does your internship relate to your major or classes?
I use many aspects of my major and the knowledge from my classes every day. One that I use most is Computer Mediated Communication. Because I rely heavily on computers to connect with our donor bases through social media, this class has helped me when connecting with others and understanding communication processes through various online platforms. Others I’ve found beneficial in my daily work are my Persuasion and Persuasive Campaign classes. I’m able to use my knowledge of effective campaign designs when assisting with different donor promotions and marketing campaigns to persuade others. But I think the most important class I’ve taken so far is Interpersonal Communication, because I’m the skills and strategies I’ve learned when I communicate every day on the job with our diverse group of donors and MVRBC staff members.

3. How did you hear about the opportunity?
I came across the ad for the position on indeed.com. I thought it was a great opportunity: to take the knowledge and skills I learned in class and get a head start on a career, possibility using my Communication degree!

4. Can you summarize the process you went through to apply for, and receive, the internship?
I filled out an online application through the company’s website. I first had a phone interview with an HR recruitment coordinator. She asked me about my knowledge of the organization, why I was interested in the position, and I briefly went over my work history. I was then scheduled for an in-person interview with who would become my bosses (Emily, Donor Promotions and Communications Supervisor, and Lori, Community Relations Coordinator). At this interview, I was able to go in depth about my experiences and past positions and showcase some of my past work that qualified me for the intern position. A few days later I received a phone call from the company’s human resources department offering me the position, and I accepted!

Two young women working together over a small laptop.

LaMar receives guidance on a project Emily Roebuck, Donor Promotions and Communications Supervisor at MVRBC headquarters in Davenport, IA.

5. How did you feel on the first day?
I was really curious and excited my first day. I had such a warm welcome, and many of my co-workers introduced themselves and told me how happy they were that I was there. It was nice to feel appreciated. I was eager to learn more about the organization in general and the operation side of things. And I was excited that I was now apart of MVRBC’s leading effort in helping provide blood products to our local communities and enhance the lives of others.

6. What are some of your duties and responsibilities? How do they fit into the bigger picture at the organization?
I have many duties and responsibilities in my position that keep me busy all day long. Two of the most important duties I have include assisting with our Donor for Life program and our Impact Rewards Loyalty Store. Both of these programs celebrate the commitment and dedication of our donors. With each donation given, donors receive automatic points that they can spend on cool blood-center merchandise. We also have select times when we have free promotional items that our donors qualify for. My job is to assist and make sure all of these orders are fulfilled. Other duties include monitoring our social media channels. I assist in making sure we’re getting the word out about current promotions and events our donors can participate in, and I engage with our followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. This includes creating promotional pieces used for advertising these promotions and events, and sending this information to our donor centers.

7. What is the most important skill or task you’re learning at the internship?
The most recent skill I’ve learned is how to create Snapchat geofilters using Canva. I was familiar with the Canva software before working on this task but I didn’t know it could be used for Snapchat! It definitely allows me to use my creativity and add something personal to the geofilters that are used for the special blood drives we run.

8, What’s your favorite thing about the internship?
My favorite thing about my internship is I know the organization makes a huge impact on people’s lives every day. It’s a great feeling to know that you work for an organization whose mission is to serve its communities and help people stay healthy.

9. What’s one thing that has surprised you about it?
I think the thing that has surprised me the most is the amount of donors we have and how big of an impact we have on others. Currently, MVRBC partners with hospitals across Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin to carry out its mission. We’re able to serve more than 4 million residents in our region thanks to our donors’ contributions. That is a huge! And really fascinating to think about the impact our blood products have on many lives.

10. Would you like work for this company, or in this type of job, after graduation? If so, do you feel this internship might help you stand out as a full-time applicant?
I knew when I transferred into Western Illinois University-Quad Cities that I wanted a degree that would give me the flexibility to learn a variety of skills and strategies to help people and make a change in society. I’m thankful that I’ve learned so much from this internship in a short amount of time.

I’m looking forward to the months to come with this organization. The ability to help others and make an impact is such a rewarding feeling. However, my future plans for this coming fall are to continue my education at WIU by enrolling in the College Student Personnel program, and hopefully becoming a career counselor or academic advisor to help students like myself get the most out of their college experience.

11. What advice would you give to someone in your major who might be looking for this same type of opportunity?
My advice would be to use the resources you have available to you on campus. Make connections with your professors and the Career Development Center. They will help prepare you to land a great opportunity while studying in your program of choice. If you want something, go after it. Make yourself unforgettable and showcase your greatest strengths and talents that can land you an internship beneficial to you and your future career ambitions.

 

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