Proud BU Alum Angela Godfrey, who graduated from COM with a B.S. in advertising and a concentration in psychology, sat down for a Q&A and provided some insight into an agency and in-house environment and how BU was a major influence in finding her career path. Today, Angela works as a Senior Marketing Manager at Liberty Mutual Insurance and lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their chocolate lab Duncan.
Marta Laranjeira: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your work journey?
Angela Godfrey: BU was instrumental for me in kicking off my career journey. I came to BU thinking that I knew a lot of things about myself, but not really knowing how to put those pieces together when it came to a career for myself. I knew that I loved working with people in a team setting, but I also knew that I had the discipline to tackle projects independently. I love to write, so I wanted a career where I could flex my writing skills. I knew that I wanted to be in a career that felt fluid and not so static. BU does a great job providing an array of courses and really pushing internships. I took all kinds of courses and interned at different companies that I felt could lead me in the right direction, and that’s how I fell in love with advertising. I have a huge thanks to BU because I felt prepared for the real world. I had friends who, upon graduation, were terrified because they had never interned or interviewed anywhere. Meanwhile, I graduated without all that anxiety and was excited about the next chapter.
The power of relationships also stood out to me when I was at BU. They really push networking. Twitter had just launched in my sophomore year, and I had launched a blog simultaneously, so I would push my blog out on Twitter. Someone at Arnold Worldwide saw my tweets, and ultimately it led to a virtual friendship, which then led to an interview at Arnold Worldwide for an internship, and that’s how I got my foot through the door.
You’ve worked in both an agency and in-house. What are some of the similarities and differences?
I spent the first 10 years of my career in an agency environment and loved it. The best part of internships is that they allow you to try out different companies to determine where you want to be and you’ll never get that opportunity again in the real-world. So, I tried to intern in various communications fields, from PR to account management, and at different size companies.
When I graduated, I had my heart set on a big agency, which taught me all the ins and outs of how advertising works. I got to see everything from production, media, content, business affairs, etc. The training and exposure are invaluable and taught me skills that I’ve carried throughout my career. A little over a year ago, I was contacted by Liberty Mutual, and it was a dream job for me, and I’m so happy that I took the leap to try out in-house.
In both environments, you need to know how to collaborate and build relationships with other people. You need to be able to think proactively and always be willing to learn and adapt.
In an agency, it was a little more fast and loose. You must be quick on your feet and be resourceful and have that thick skin to understand that you might have to fail fast while also learn just as fast. At an in-house, there are more established processes, and there is a bit more structure and resources, but there are also plenty of instances where you need to be resourceful and think fast to get things done.
A big difference that I found was that often at an agency, although we’re exposed to a handful of clients, we only see one arm of the business. So you’re never fully exposed, and you don’t have the full context of how one thing impacts another or even how the company operates as a whole. You are just so focused on advertising, which is only one spoke of marketing. There are so many other facets that come into play. In-house gives you a very different perspective.
What advice would you give to students that want to work for an agency? Or in-house?
Be thoughtful and deliberate about how you build your network. When I think about my career journey, I would not have any of the positions that I’ve had if not for the people in my network that have helped me along the way and have brought me along with them. I think there is a reason people say don’t burn bridges in our industry. The advertising and marketing world is so small, and you never know whose path you’re going to cross again. Similarly, when you get to the point in your career where you can influence others, there is power in paying it forward and being a mentor for someone else. You start to think, how can I now bring people along with me and help them along the way?
What is something you wish you knew when you graduated?
I was laser-focused on working in an agency. I would say what I wish I knew is how broad an industry this is. Communications and marketing can translate into so many different careers. So, I think it’s just about being open-minded and taking on different kinds of experiences, even if it makes you uncomfortable at the moment. Nine times out of ten, I would say it has made me a stronger person and a stronger marketer.
How has BU helped you in your career?
I feel like I grew up quickly. I learned a lot of things about being an adult, being accountable, being responsible, and taking responsibility for my career. I was also taught by experts in the business at BU. This is not just teaching from a textbook; they’re putting things into context and practice. Even when they’re giving you feedback for improvement, you’re getting a leg up on many other people who might be entering that field. As a student, you’re getting that feedback, so when you enter that real-world job, you know, going in, the areas you need to improve.
Do you recall a course or professor that stuck with you?
I have to say Dottie Clark (Professor Dorothy Clark). She really helped me fall in love with communications. Her approach was just so different. She had an energy that was just so infectious, and she was passionate, so that just made me passionate. An assignment that I’ll never forget taking an article and writing an effective tweet in 140 characters about the article. It forced me to think about writing effectively. Every character needs to be deliberate. It needs to convey the key message about the article, so you must know the audience, and it needs to be enticing. It helped me practice what effective communication is and its power in a larger context.
Marta Laranjeira, Staff Writer
Marta is a second-semester graduate student in the M.S. public relations program. She is originally from New Jersey and attended Fordham University, majoring in International Studies. Before moving to Boston, Marta worked as an analyst in New York City. This is her first time working with The COMmunicator, and she is excited to see what the semester brings. Marta enjoys trying different foods, finding hidden gems in Boston while exploring the city, and taking yoga/pilate classes.
Audrey Ritchie, Senior Editor
Audrey Ritchie is a second-semester graduate student earning her Master of Science in public relations at BU. Ritchie graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in public relations and a minor in business in 2021. A life-long writer, she is excited to join the COMmunicator this semester. In her free time, she loves reading, exploring Boston, and playing with her dog, Bear.