How She Got There: Mae Karwowski, Founder & CEO of Obviously

Name: Mae Karwowski
Age: 31
Job Title and Description: CEO and Founder of Obviously
College Name/Major: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Philosophy Major
Twitter Handle: @maewow     
Instagram Handle: @maewow

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

MK: Working in the social media influencer world, my job has always been all about building meaningful connections in a strategic way. When I founded Obviously in 2013, we were working out of my three-bedroom apartment and fast forward to today—we now have three offices with a global presence. While my role has drastically changed, my core philosophy has remained the same—to treat social influencers as "people, not ad units." This means I place a high emphasis on human relationship building and work to set up partnerships that make sense between brands and online tastemakers. As part of running a fully integrated company, I’m required to wear many hats throughout my job—from brainstorming creative marketing campaign content to handling product shipments to streamlining the tech. Although there’s no such thing as a typical day at Obviously, it’s key I focus on that human to human relationship building by making sure to have face time with all of my teams and several of my clients.

What is the best part of your job?

MK: I LOVE setting the strategy for the company. As a philosophy major in college, I loved learning about big ideas and frameworks, plus writing and debating. So now I get to do all of those things everyday.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

MK: I threw myself in to the rapidly growing social media scene after I graduated in 2008, and landed a job managing social media accounts for The Real Housewives (!) and Coca-Cola. This opportunity allowed me to be very creative and also very client services intensive. I went all in and learned how to navigate with both my clients and my team to advance quickly.

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

MK: My biggest words of wisdom are to simply "ask for it." For instance, I’m always one to ask for more—whether it’s pitching an idea in a meeting or asking for a raise or the opportunity to take on special projects. Showing the ability to be bold with asking will place you one step ahead give you the reputation as both a hard worker and a team player.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

MK: There was a time where I was working nonstop on a side project and basically stopped sleeping. As you can imagine, I wasn’t able to perform at 100 percent—so my full time job suffered which led to stress. From now on, I always prioritize taking the time for self-care as it saves sanity.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

MK: Taking 25 amazing Instagram influencers to San Francisco to the huge product launch for one of our favorite clients. It was a big activation and the energy was palpable. It was so cool to view all the content they created and see the weekend from their (very talented) perspectives.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

MK: Do they have drive? Can they articulately explain how they arrived at the answer to a strategic question? Each member of our team adds to our culture and contributes in many ways outside of their assigned role  which allow us to have the smartest, most driven people humanly possible!

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

MK: Stay on high alert! Be on the lookout for opportunities at all times and meet as many people as you possibly can. You’re in college, which means you can start by looking up alums and sending emails asking if you can take them to coffee. Building your network from the get-go is important because as people rise up in their careers they spend less time networking. My first five years I would try to take someone to coffee 2-3 times a week and those connections have stayed with me!

What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?

MK: The resume should get you in the door for the interview and that’s about it. I really look to see if a candidate has crafted the resume in a way that clearly explains why I should meet with them. If your experience is with amazing brands, feature that. If you have a side hustle where you are working on being a beauty YouTuber, then add that (and the URL so I can check it out.)

About The Author

Gina is the Associate Editor of Her Campus. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2017, where she studied English and Theater. As an undergrad with Her Campus, Gina was a national contributing writer, first ever national viral editor, editorial intern, and editor-in-chief of her chapter at Cal Poly. In her spare time, Gina enjoys cuddling her friends and family, petting other peoples' dogs, and eating donuts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ginasescandon.