The Alumna Who Stayed
Sometimes when you come to Loyola University Chicago, the opportunities with the university don’t end after crossing the stage and receiving a diploma.
As a freshman theater student in 2002, Jennifer Martin, now 29, never thought she would end up working in public relations, let alone at Loyola.
She is now the director of public programming for Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts. This year she celebrates her 10-year anniversary with the university.
“Soon enough I’ll be at Loyola longer than I wasn’t,” Martin said.
The city of Chicago is the reason Martin chose Loyola. Aside from her love for the city, she believed a smaller school would suit her needs. In her opinion, in larger schools, students can often get lost in the rush of academic activity that does not focus on the individual. Loyola University and the city of Chicago offered Martin exactly what she wanted.
“No matter what you want to pursue, you can do that in Chicago. Loyola really helped me get a foot in the door working in the communications field of Chicago theater before I even graduated,” Martin said.
Martin never planned on getting involved in the public relations side of theater, but because of her extensive knowledge and love of the arts, she was asked to become the director of public programming when the theater department merged music, dance and visual arts. Loyola needed somebody passionate enough to handle all of the marketing and publicity for the fine arts department. Martin fit the bill.
Prior to her professional career at Loyola, Martin interned with TimeLine Theatre Company of Chicago between her sophomore and junior years. The company eventually hired her during her junior year. Throughout the internship, she did behind-the-scenes work, including stage-managing and assisting the director of marketing. She continued working there until 2009 before returning to Loyola to work professionally.
“Educational settings are the sort of unique beast of the workplace,” Martin said, referring to working in higher education at Loyola. “I feel like you have to believe in the learning process in order to market in an educational setting.”
This educational setting, in which most individuals are expected to take risks in order to learn, is what gives Martin the freedom to try new marketing strategies without push back from the university.
This freedom makes Martin’s daily routine unpredictable. She has a hand, and usually the final say, in almost every project that runs through Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts. On any given day, she could be working with the designers of a poster, a new marketing campaign, or supervising the department’s successful blog that she helped introduce.
When she was a student at Loyola, communication classes did not cover Facebook, Twitter, or other social media and contemporary marketing strategies.
“The field of communications is an ever-changing environment, and it’s going to keep evolving,” Martin said.
Although her classes at Loyola did not cover more contemporary types of promotional platforms, her career at Loyola has taught her how to adapt quickly to the field of communication’s changing environment.
As she celebrates 10 years with Loyola, Martin only has one suggestion for those interested in communications: intern and do not be afraid to do a little “grunt” work. She believes that the reason she has been so successful at Loyola and in Chicago is because she was willing to work from the bottom up.
“There are people who sit at home in their pajamas and write blogs and become successful,” Martin said. “If you’re interested in a career in communications like I’ve had in the past ten years, in this day and age and in a city like Chicago, there is absolutely no excuse to not be pursuing that in some way.”