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Alumni Profile: IMC grad starts communications business

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Jennifer Russell, a 2010 IMC grad who started her own marketing communications company, poses on Pittsburgh's North Side. | Photo by Jim Judkis

Meet Jennifer Russell

Major and degrees earned at Point Park: B.S. in integrated marketing communications (summa cum laude)
Graduation year:
2010
Job title/current employer:
Jennifer recently started a marketing communications company called Gemini Marketing Partners with a member of her cohort, Jim Bebout (she says the name is a play on "Jim and I"). The focus is helping small business and nonprofit organizations craft their identity and message.
Hometown:
Joplin, MO
Now living in:
Pittsburgh's Central Northside

Why did you choose to attend Point Park?

It chose me! I had been working for a company that declared bankruptcy and shut its doors in 2008. Through Workforce Investment Board funds distributed through Careerlink, I was able to get a small grant that jump-started my return to school. Point Park's integrated marketing communications program was part of that program, and it was a perfect fit for me.

How did Point Park's IMC program help get you to where you are today career-wise?

Of course it gave me the knowledge, but it also has given me the confidence to take such a risk. The professors really believed in my abilities. After being away from college for 15 years, that was a plus. Changing careers isn't easy — I had been in the retail business since 1998 — but the IMC program certainly helped. I was also very driven to succeed, and the professors seemed to appreciate that.

What was one of your favorite experiences while you were at Point Park?

Delivering our final presentations. I had given birth to my first child 10 days before our final capstone project and IMC presentation. Imagine trying to get used to a new baby in the house while preparing books and a PowerPoint presentation! My son saw his mom graduate from college — there couldn't be a better experience than that!

What advice do you have for prospective students entering the IMC program at Point Park?

Put your heart into it. This isn't just a degree — this is a way to change your life.

What advice do you have for students considering starting their own business?

Feel the fear, and do it anyway! For me, a business in which I can work from home is the best option so I can stay home with my son and still contribute to our household. Know your priorities, know your values. Work with integrity and keep your word. Determine what your passion is and follow that because you won't give it your all if you don't like what you're doing, or you'll burn out trying.

What is next for you?

Most immediately, I have a new client participating in the La Leche League's "The Big Latch-On," which is an attempt to break the world record for simultaneous breastfeeding moms. We're doing the press and event planning for the only site location in Western Pa., A Mother's Boutique in Wexford.

On a larger scale, I wish could say I have it all mapped out, but I don't — yet. I'm excited to see where this new partnership leads and see what kind of reputation we can develop.

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