Student Success Story: Isabella Montenegro

Isabella Montenegro (she/her/hers) earned a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Media and Design, a concentration in Digital Media Strategies for Business, and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the School of Fine Arts in December 2019. Since graduation, Isabella has gone on to pursue a graduate certificate in Digital Marketing and Storytelling from Experience Lab at UC Berkeley and secure a full-time position with Logicbroker as the Digital Marketing Coordinator. Hear Isabella’s story and how she took advantage of the location and resources of the UConn Stamford campus to get to where she is today.

How did you choose your major, program, and/or minor?

It was a long process and a lot of back and forth with myself whether or not I was making the right decision. When I entered UConn I was ACES exploring Business and focused on taking on the gen-eds and prereqs for the School of Business. I was also part of the Student Support Services program (SSS), so even before my first semester at UConn, I was able to participate in the five week pre-collegiate Summer Program, which allowed me to take 2 classes— PSYCH 1100 and DMD 1000. When I was applying to UConn, I didn’t even know Digital Media and Design (DMD) was a major. DMD 1000 made me realize that there are other majors besides Business. During my later years in high school, I took a marketing class as an elective and AP studio art. In high school that is when I decided marketing was a great major for me since it fell under Business, and I could still be creative. However, when it came to taking the accounting and finance courses that were mandatory for the School of Business I was struggling. After my first year, I reached out to the Digital Media and Design program and expressed my interest in applying to the program concentrating in Digital Media Strategies for Business. I got accepted into the program and it felt like a perfect fit. I was able to learn how to animate and use all of Adobe Creative Cloud but also focus on digital marketing, analytics, and much more. I also minored in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I took a sociology class for one of my prereqs and automatically fell in love! Unfortunately, the Stamford campus does not have a sociology minor but the WGSS minor had plenty of sociology courses I could take that counted towards the WGSS minor. Some of the best courses I took at UConn were for my WGSS minor.

How did you find out about your position?

I found my current position through a UConn DMD alum on LinkedIn. We had the same exact major, concentration, and minor at UConn Stamford so we knew each other well since we had plenty of classes together. She posted that her company was hiring a Digital Marketing Coordinator. I messaged her so fast so that I could learn more about the position and the company. The best part about doing my research about the company before/during the interview process was how much it felt like home, maybe it’s the fact that the CEO is also a proud UConn alum! However, maintaining relationships and not being afraid to reach out to someone who works at a company or has a position you’re interested in, really sets you apart from others.

What experiences during your time at UConn contributed to your current success?

I took pride in the internship opportunities I was able to land when I was at UConn, from working in news to sports to art, and much more. My internship experiences helped me create that path to where I currently am today. I figured out what industries and positions I did and did not enjoy. However, I am grateful for all the opportunities I experienced since they taught me so much.

Also, during my time at UConn I was able to build many different types of relationships – my friends, professors, and mentors were the ones who really supported and guided me through my undergrad years and to my current success. I can’t forget my parents and sister. To amazing friends I met at UConn who stuck with me since my first year— I can’t thank you enough for putting up with my ridiculousness. To my professors who saw my potential and always encouraged me to do my best, thank you! My mentors, most of whom are also UConn alum, I also thank you for sharing your experiences/stories and advice with me in times when I felt I was lost.

What groups, organizations, or other resources at UConn contributed to your career success?

During my time at UConn I was a part of the Stamford Campus Sports Club. Being a part of the Stamford Campus Sports Club taught me leadership and communication skills. I joined the Stamford Campus Sports Club as Secretary my second year at UConn and when I graduated I left as Vice President. Having to juggle being a student leader on campus as well as internships, and most importantly school, I really had to find ways to stay on top of everything and stay organized which really came in handy with my current position. Being a first generation student, at times I felt lost and just needed support or that push to keep me going. SSS provided me with that push and just let me know that anything is possible. Of course, I took full advantage of the Center for Career Development. The Center for Career Development supported me throughout my time at UConn. They hosted many helpful opportunities and events, on and off campus. They always had an open door or a quick email response if I ever had a question, and I feel that they always saw the potential in every student.

What advice would you give to current UConn students who are looking to follow the same career path?

Be sure to register for classes that fulfill your major/minor requirements but also classes that you are genuinely interested in. Have at least one internship under your belt, it doesn’t have to be with a huge well-known company but somewhere you can get hands-on experience and learn if that industry/position is right for you. Also, remind yourself there are other options after you graduate, do not feel pressured to only apply to graduate school or land a full-time job right away.

I felt as if those were my only options until I found Experience Lab. The Experience Lab was a new program for recent grads where I had the chance to work full-time with a startup while learning curriculum focused on Digital Marketing and Storytelling. Taking time to be a part of an amazing program where I connected with other emerging professionals who felt the same way as me, made me feel like I wasn’t alone in transitioning from academia to the “real world”. Experience Lab gave me the opportunity to take that extra time to figure out what I really wanted. I was still able to focus on a subject that I knew would lead me down the career path I wanted, work for an amazing startup in Dublin, Ireland, while also meeting my people. The friendships I built with the 11 other fellows in my cohort was something so natural and easy to me. We supported and cheered for each other every step of the way throughout the program and still are as we are now graduates from Experience Lab and are in control of our careers.

By Tara Malone
Tara Malone Interim Associate Director, Regional Campuses Tara Malone