The light clinking of glassware and the dark aroma of coffee entangle in the atmosphere around me. At the quiet cafe, I wait for Hailey McCaffrey. She is a Campus Marketing and Community Associate at Her Campus Media. This is the next level after working with Her Campus during college: a paid position in Boston, Massachusetts. Having a conversation with Hailey would give me great insight into what it takes to accomplish a career in her profession.
“Hello! How are you?” a voice chimed behind me. I stood up to shake hands with Hailey McCaffrey, before she sat down in front of me. Her outfit was both stylish and professional. She held herself confidently and assertively, like a boss-woman. I was excited to begin my conversation with her and learn more about what it takes to be a Her Campus Media Community Associate. I asked McCaffrey how she landed her position working for Her Campus in Boston.
“It was all about connections,” McCaffrey explained. She launched her chapter of Her Campus at her college, Simmons University, and by the time she was a senior in college, she had made a few connections within the company. She mentioned that the most important thing to have under your belt is people you know that can support you. In her case, a member of the community team had left their position and McCaffrey reached out to a contact at the company to see if they would consider her to replace the role. An interview was offered to her, in which she pursued with confidence.
“What was it like when you first started the position?” I asked, curiously. A huge adjustment was the theme of McCaffrey’s response. She was working full-time, while still a full-time student. She had to quickly learn to balance school and work, which was quite the handful. Thankfully, she can credit her team to being so helpful when she began training for her role. She exclaimed, “overall it was a great experience when I first started!”
Talking with McCaffrey was a lot of fun because she was eager to share her experiences with me. I quickly became invested in the topic and had a million questions floating through my mind. Next, I asked her about her work life. She had been working professionally with Her Campus in Boston ever since her last semester of college, which was quite impressive to me. Each day is different, which is why she loves her job. Most days consist of supporting chapters through phone calls and emails, working on client campaigns and working with her team to develop strategies and new opportunities for the Chapter Network. She also works with an Alumni Network, so she is often compiling recruiting chapter members, Campus Trendsetters and National Writers to join her community, as well as working on enriching programs like the Alumni Mentorship program. She spoke of each responsibility with enthusiasm, which really showed how much she enjoys working with Her Campus Media.
I soon realized that my coffee had gone cold, after abandoning my breakfast, due to McCaffrey’s compelling story. I was inspired by her eagerness to work with an online magazine, and saw hope for myself in her words. As I thought about my future plans, I began to wonder about hers. My next prompt was, “Do you have a professional goal that you are working towards?” McCaffrey responds that she is still very new in her career, but will always value the ability to make a difference and pursue new opportunities. She hopes to always make a lasting impact on others, as well as continue to have passion for her career in the future. Although her path is unknown from here, she knows that whatever she sets her mind on next, she will give it all she’s got.
The most important thing that McCaffrey can take away from her experience is learning how to make connections. She believes that “the skills you learn in real life are just as important as what you learn in college.” McCaffrey’s position at Her Campus has helped her gain professional skills as well as skills in community management and marketing. She loves working with college writers and making a difference in their professional lives.
I felt empowered to speak with another talented woman who has the career that I intend to pursue. I wanted to know, then, if she had any advice for someone like me, coming into her profession. McCaffrey exclaimed, “Network, network, network! It’s important to make connections in your field and use them to learn more about their careers and their companies.” According to McCaffrey, if a position becomes available, an employer will be more likely to hire someone they have known previously, which will give you a leg up when you look for jobs and internships. In the media profession, who you know is almost as good as what you know.
Although networking can be terrifying to many, McCaffrey has some great advice. To see a woman go through a similar career path as I have, and make it to where I want to be, shows me that anything is possible, as long as you work for it. I shook hands with the Her Campus Media: Campus Marketing and Community Associate once more and thanked her for her time. I let out accomplished breath, feeling hopeful for the future.