Rebecca Mildon, School of Journalism '14, is Digital Marketing Manager at UBC Sauder School of Business.
What did you originally see yourself doing when you first enrolled in journalism school?
I originally wanted to be on TV. I had completed an internship at MTV Canada the year prior and was hooked on the idea of being a TV personality. Everyone told me that [the School of Journalism] was the place to go if that was my goal, so I had my sights set on the program.
How did that vision change as the years went by?
In my final year at J-school I did an internship at Breakfast Television in Edmonton, where they ended up offering me a full-time job on air. The station had just gone through a round of cuts. I had been thinking of going the marketing and communications route, but this sealed the deal for me. They ended up collapsing BT Edmonton a year later. It’s a blessing in disguise as I think my personality is much more suited to being behind the scenes and helping support other business goals through marketing.
How did you arrive at your current position?
I got into my current position with equal parts luck and preparedness. In my final year of J-school, I was doing as many informational interviews as I could to learn about what employers were looking for and make connections. Through that process, I was referred to an entry-level marketing job in the commercial real estate sector. By chance, the man who hired me happened to have worked in journalism and spoke highly of the [the School of] journalism degree. A few years later I took a job at the University of Alberta. It was there that I realized that education was a passion of mine. When I moved to Vancouver with my husband I had my sights set on the University of British Columbia, as it was a natural fit. After about a year, some well-timed restructuring on the faculty’s marketing team led to the opening of my current position. I was able to use my background and expertise as a solid foundation for the role, but also the connections I had made previously to help open those doors.
How has your journalism degree and what you learned in school helped you in your current career?
I didn’t realize the reach and reputation of a journalism degree from [the] university. Especially out west, the degree is quite respected and it gave me an edge.
As for what I learned in school, the program is so hands-on and practical that it’s hard not to walk away with some tangible skills that have given me a good foundation for my career.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is working at a place with so many young and driven students, innovative faculty, and people who truly want to make a positive impact on the world. It’s easy to feel anxious about where the world is heading, especially now, but working at a university you’re surrounded by people who are really passionate about making a better future for all. You can’t help but feel optimistic for the next generation and how they’re going to shape the future.
I would also say that the flexibility of a marketing career is really appealing. Whether you’re into data, writing, designing, storytelling, content production etc. there’s likely something for you. Every company in the world has marketing and communications needs, so it really opens up possibilities.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Most of the things that I’ve found challenging with a career in marketing have been around the attitude towards the field. It’s better and worse in some organizations, but it’s often seen as an expense.
What has been one of your biggest accomplishments? (Professional or personal.)
Professional – winning three CASE awards for work that I’ve done in higher education. It’s a great feeling to work hard on something with your peers and be recognized.
Personal – Moving out to a new city alone at 18 was difficult and it presented its fair share of challenges. I feel really lucky to have had that opportunity to face things on my own and carve my own path. I believe that growth comes from the harder moments in life and I’m a better person because of it.
What’s one of your favourite memories from j-school?
One of the coolest things was when Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan came to speak to our class about the Rob Ford scandal. It was such a huge news story and for them to take the time to talk to us was something really special.
Any memorable School of Journalism professors during your time at the university?
Gary Gould has such a great way of being approachable and fun while delivering the material. I’ll always remember him telling us that we looked FABULOUS!
What advice would you give to current journalism students?
Get involved with your class and the school as much as you can.[The university] is a commuter campus, but there is so much you can get from different clubs and groups on campus as well as your classmates.
Thinking back to your first year self, how do you think they would react to where you are now?
I never would have guessed that I would end up where I am now, but I’m really happy with how it’s turned out so far. Toronto is and was such a wonderful city to be living in in my early twenties and especially for my degree. You really are at the centre of the action in Toronto. Now that I’m living on the west coast, there is a laid-back attitude that’s pretty hard to beat. I walk five minutes from home and I can see the ocean, forest, and mountains. I still have to pinch myself! I can’t believe I get to live here.
Grads at Work is an ongoing series of profiles of alums. If you know of a notable grad you’d like to see featured, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.