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Oh, the Places You'll Go! (When You're Passionate)

by Erin Hatch, Marketing Manager at Weber Thompson & 2016 SMPS Seattle Director of Marketing

How SMPS has changed my career...and winning the SMPS Seattle Fellows Scholarship will allow me to continue to build my experience

When I entered the A/E/C industry in 2012, I knew next to nothing about marketing for an architecture firm. I had stumbled into the field based on a suggestion from a friend who knew I was looking to move from the non-profit to for-profit sector. When she sent the position description, it stopped me in my tracks. I know, I know, it sounds like a line from bad cover letter, but this time it was actually true.

How did they know that they had created a position that was literally tailored to my exact skills and qualifications?? There was no way I could have not gotten the job - it was clearly a sign that my move was on the horizon. It was a combination of graphic design and social media - two things I had been doing in my previous job, and it only required two years of experience, which I knew I (kinda) had.

My application turned into an interview, which turned into a job, which turned into three years later. In those three years I've gone from a production graphic designer to Marketing Manager. It's been through the support and encouragement of the amazing group of professionals that I work with that I've gotten to where I am today. They've been completely understanding about my lack of background in this field and have encouraged me to attend professional development events since the beginning. At the top of the list was being involved in SMPS.

For the first few years, I only attended luncheons. They were useful, but I didn't know anyone and would show up just before the program started and leave as soon as it was over. When I was officially promoted to Marketing Manager this past winter, my supervisor, Elizabeth Holland, encouraged me to become a member and join a committee. That's when the fun really started.

In a few short months I went from knowing almost no one in SMPS to planning networking events with my fellow special events committee members. I began attending as many events as possible. I attended the Pacific Regional Conference because it was, conveniently, in Seattle. I enrolled in A/E/C 201 with Carla Thompson and Bill Strong. I attended Fellows Forums. Then, I decided to run for the Board.

I guess you could say I jumped in feet first. I couldn't help myself. Along every step of the way I was blown away by how willing everyone was to share information and lend a helping hand, even among competition! I had to be a part of anything and everything SMPS.

So when the chance to apply for the 2015 SMPS Seattle Fellows Scholarship for Build Business came into my inbox, I thought I'd give it a shot. I had attended almost every SMPS event that fit my schedule in the previous six months on my company's dime (thanks Weber Thompson!), so I didn't even dare ask. But I really wanted to go and knew it would be an amazing experience, I just couldn't pay for it myself. I figured I couldn't win if I didn't try and I basically had nothing to lose. 

When Carla announced the award at the Fellow Forum on June 11th, I was shocked. I never expected that I'd actually win! I walked up and gave a dorky acceptance speech (unsolicited) because I was so filled with excitement, joy and gratitude, I could barely contain myself. 

When I thanked Bill after the program I told him I couldn't believe I had won. He said, "The choice was obvious, your submission was filled with passion."

Now, with the confidence rapidly approaching my excitement is rising by the day. I've heard the conference described as the 'PRC on steriods,' and 'incredible.' I just bit the bullet and purchased a ticket for the Friday Night Social at The Magic Castle (my co-worker claims it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience!) and I have a shiny new pair of heels picked out for the Thursday night black-tie Awards Gala (the dress is still up in the air).

Whatever next week brings, I'm ready. Ready to make some new friends, see some familiar SMPS Seattle faces, have some fun and learn as much as my brain is capable of holding. And I am so grateful to the Fellows for making it possible.

Build Business, here I come!

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