Alum Highlight: Eliana Bardi
Traveling from El Salvador to a graduate program in Washington, D.C., was a big step for Eliana Bardi—and, in some ways, a daunting one too.
She was well qualified for Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications, having worked in El Salvador as a Marketing Coordinator for Coca-Cola. She was fluent in Spanish and French and had taken English in school. Still, it’s one thing to study a language in primary and secondary school, and another to rely on it for your graduate education.
“As an international student, I had a lot of excitement,” Bardi recalls, “but also a lot of anxiety.” She needn’t have worried. Once at Georgetown, she befriended classmates from Thailand, Argentina, Egypt, Italy, Guatemala, China, the United States, and other countries. But more than that, she saw how Georgetown celebrated different cultures and perspectives.
“I loved it,” Bardi said. “I think the diversity of the people coming to the program is its greatest asset.”
Among her favorite courses was Digital Analytics & Measurement, which examined processes for collecting, analyzing, and presenting data across various platforms. She was able to then put those skills into practice for her Cause Consulting class, where she did new media outreach and publicity for the United Nations.
But it was another opportunity facilitated through the program that helped Bardi land the job that would be a perfect fit. At a class field trip to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), she met staffers who were interested in her work with corporations. She was later offered a summer internship, which led to a job as WWF’s Program Officer for Private Sector Engagement, where she works with corporate partners to develop cause-related marketing initiatives that support sustainable development.
“The goal is to unlock the power of the private sector through conservation and sustainable development,” Bardi said.
Alum Highlight: Alex Gray
If you grow up on Hatteras Island, N.C., that narrow but immensely long stretch of land that separates the Atlantic Ocean from Pamlico Sound, there’s a good chance you’ll be drawn to the water: In fact, it’s almost expected.
“My family is full of surfers and anglers,” said Alex Gray, a 2017 graduate of Georgetown’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. “It’s almost inevitable living there.”
Pretty much inevitable, too, was that Gray would come to love sports like surfing, spearfishing, and freediving (“It’s basically going down without a tank”) and want to do all he could to help protect the world’s oceans.
Gray, 29, is now the Senior Manager of Digital Outreach at Oceana, and while it’s fitting that he works for the world’s largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation, it would be a stretch to call it inevitable. What prepared him were his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his master's degree from Georgetown.
During his two years studying at Georgetown, Gray was promoted from Digital Campaigner to Digital Campaign Manager to his current senior position. He said the IMC program showed him the importance of fostering creativity and consistency in marketing across multiple platforms. It also stressed traditional marketing concepts such as defining an audience, building a brand, and evaluating performance.
Gray is proud of Oceana’s role in urging the Obama administration to protect the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling. However, that’s a fight that’s far from over.
For Gray, working for Oceana is more than a job:
“I love the diverse set of challenges my work provides,” he said. “And having grown up on the water, this is an issue I care deeply about.”
Alum Highlight: Ines Okecki
For some international students, it can be a difficult choice: After graduating with a master’s degree from Georgetown, should they stay in the United States or go back home?
Of course, this decision involves many factors, which are different for every student. And the choice is never perfect—well, almost never. Because for Ines Okecki, a native of Argentina and graduate of the inaugural class of the Master’s in Integrated Marking Communications program, the decision was about as perfect as it gets.
After graduating in May 2017, Okecki interviewed in New York City with a young Argentine-based high-tech firm called Bluesmart, which had generated a lot of buzz by creating the first “smart” luggage with its own GPS system, built-in charger and scale, and smart-lock security system. Bluesmart needed someone based in Buenos Aires to work with the rapidly growing U.S. market.
Okecki got the job. She got to move back home. And now she gets to make regular trips to the United States, the first of which was for a media presentation of Bluesmart’s Series 2 at the MoMA Design Store in New York this November.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” she said.
Before coming to Georgetown, Ines worked as a Brand Manager for an airline company in Argentina, where she got experience with things like sales promotions—what she called the “tactical campaigns.” But what she needed most was something broader: An integrated way to look at the whole process of a marketing campaign and how the parts fit together.
She got that at Georgetown.
“I needed more strategy to plan campaigns and think holistically,” she said. “Georgetown’s program gave me exactly what I needed to jump in my career.”
Alum Highlight: Worakorn “Puff” Thongkijlaohachai
It was like working at a really interesting job—one in your chosen field, where you liked and respected your colleagues, collaborated on challenging projects, and learned from supervisors who were experts in their fields.
That’s how Worakorn “Puff” Thongkijlaohachai described the atmosphere at Georgetown’s graduate program in Integrated Marketing Communications.
After four years of doing marketing in his native country of Thailand, Thongkijlaohachai realized that he needed more than the theory-driven curriculum other programs offered: He needed real-world, practical skills he could apply to his job. He found that—after a global search—at Georgetown.
“I realized that one of the skills I needed to improve was my communication, especially in marketing,” he said. “Georgetown had the most unique courses and approach of the schools that I saw.”
Through the program, he also learned how to use social media more effectively.
“It’s a very big area in marketing,” he said, “and Georgetown exposed me to the knowledge and skills I was looking for.”
And his diligence paid off: Thongkijlaohachai received the program’s Golden Bulldog Award for “IMC Luminary” in 2016, and was honored with the Tropaia Outstanding Student award when he graduated the next year. A professor also recommended him for an internship at Hilton Hotels & Resorts, where he developed marketing proposals for Hilton’s vacation properties.
“Diversity, practicality, and networking opportunities from my peers and instructors are three key factors that made my time at Georgetown a life-changing experience,” Thongkijlaohachai said.