By Samantha Beavers
During her high school years in Sanford, North Carolina, incoming Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) student Olivia Rojas first fell in love with writing and storytelling. Working with Lenovo’s NAF internship program in 2017 and 2018, she was exposed to the world of marketing and communications – and quickly realized it’s where she wanted to focus her career.
“That was the pivotal moment for me. Getting that introduction was really impactful and I learned a lot, and I remember telling my supervisors that I’d like to continue doing it in the future,” she says.
Choosing to follow her passion, Rojas earned a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). While completing her studies, she kept herself busy: joining UNC’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; working with UNC’s student-run newspaper The Daily Tar Heel and sister marketing agency 1893 Brand Studio; completing a data analytics internship with Digitas North America as part of the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) and assisting with social media marketing for the Entrepreneurship Center at Kenan-Flagler Business School – to name a few.
Developing new skills
These opportunities afforded Rojas the opportunity to earn hands-on experience, grow as a writer and learn basic analytics techniques – all of which deepened her passion for marketing and her interest in data. As she approached graduation and considered her future career goals, however, she recognized the need for further education – which led her to the MMA program at NC State.
“I learned a lot of analytics skills on the job, but I really wanted to expand my skill set in order to match the strong foundation I have in storytelling – especially given the pace of digital transformation and the important role digital strategies play in marketing,” she says.
“Looking at the MMA course catalog, my gut reaction was, ‘This is the one. This is the program for me.’ I also liked that it’s a newer program, because it allows me to learn the most state-of-the-art information for this fast-growing field. That’s something that’s very important to me, because I want to make sure that I bring my A-game,” she continues.
Leveraging liberal arts
Though the field of data analytics often attracts individuals coming from science and math backgrounds, Rojas believes her background in journalism and her creative aptitude will set her apart as an analyst.
“In order to be a good analyst, you have to be a good storyteller. You can talk numbers and do all that technical stuff as much as you’d like, but if you’re not explaining what those numbers mean or why they’re important, you’re not an effective analyst – especially if you’re trying to communicate with clients and business leaders,” Rojas says.
“I think my creative background is going to be super beneficial for me and for anyone else with a similar background who chooses to go down the marketing analytics path. Having a creative aptitude gives you this analytical intuition that helps you identify and communicate meaningful consumer insights,” she continues.
Rojas’ passion for bridging the fields of storytelling and analytics also gives her confidence in her ability to learn new technical skills.
“I’m excited and up for the challenge. I think these skills are incredibly necessary for the path I’m on, and I’m ready to learn,” she says. “I’m glad to have this opportunity to challenge myself in an environment that feels so flexible and supportive.”
Embracing new opportunities
Half Peruvian and half Puerto Rican, Rojas is also eager to be part of a diverse student body and to explore opportunities to meet new people and expand her perspective at NC State.
“Because of the cross-cultural background I have, I’m always looking for diverse and global opportunities – so the ability to study abroad is one thing I’m excited about taking advantage of,” she says. “I also know that NC State has a ton of organizations for Latin people, so I definitely want to explore those and build community.”
Rojas is also grateful to be a recipient of a grant through the Graduate School Diversity Enhancement Grant Program. “I’m really grateful for this scholarship. I think attracting, supporting and retaining diverse students is super important and I’m really happy to see that NC State is making strides to do this,” she says.
Making an impact
In the future, Rojas hopes to land a job as a brand analyst or marketing analyst for a global brand or marketing agency – and is passionate about making sure she finds and tells stories that represent all kinds of communities.
“One industry I’m considering going into is fashion, and I find it really interesting because they’re going with a more omnichannel presence, where they’re trying to attract Gen Z and Gen Alpha later down the line. It’s going to be interesting to see how marketing develops in those spaces and how differing levels of access to high-tech devices will impact those marketing strategies,” she says.
“To me, accessibility and equity are really important – and I’d really like to help facilitate that and hold those spaces accountable. With analytics, I can help make sure that minority communities are being seen and heard – and help brands leverage data and data insights from those communities.”
To learn more about the Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) program at NC State’s Poole College of Management, click here.
This post was originally published in Master of Management Marketing Analytics.