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EU alumni perspective: Holly (Salewski) Larabee

Name: Holly (Salewski) Larabee

Graduation Year: 2009

Major: Business Management & Marketing

Current Position: National K-12 Education Marketing Manager at DLR Group 

City and State: Seattle, WA

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

As the National K-12 Education Marketing Manager for DLR Group, I live out my passion for marketing – be it through the oversight of client pursuits, strategic planning, or creative involvement. The marketing team I manage is located across the country, so connecting with them on a regular basis and coming up with consistent messaging is an essential function of my role. My company designs every type of project imaginable (civic, retail, workplace, etc.), but my day-to-day focus is the world of K-12 education.

The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to support an integrated design team who create innovative schools. (In fact, we’re one of the top-rated firms in the world!) I had no idea what I was getting into when I joined this industry, but it has ended up being the perfect alignment of my passions for marketing and social justice (my previous work was in the non-profit industry).

When I tour our schools and hear the stories about how the communities are using them, I feel an incredible connection to the value of my work. Coming from a family with many educators, I have a lot of respect for the individuals who devote their lives to bettering future generations.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

Concert Choir is easily the thing that stands out the most during my time at Evangel – both the weekly rehearsals and the tours we took. The camaraderie that I found in musical involvement was incredibly rewarding. The diverse mix of students, the churches that we visited, and the cities that we saw – it definitely shaped who I am today. We looked out for one another and shared a lot of genuine moments together. I think the existence of that group was a very positive thing for everyone who was involved.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

When I started at Evangel, I knew I was interested in a Business degree, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. By getting involved in the department through a broad range of classes, working summer internships, and spending a semester abroad (at a business school in Paris), I finally landed on the path of Marketing. My professors always encouraged me to explore my passions. I think the real advantage of getting a degree from a liberal arts college is the well-rounded education, and in the case of Evangel, it’s a place where you are supported spiritually, educationally, and emotionally.

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

Well… I graduated during the recession with visions of working in a field where most people were getting laid off, so that plan didn’t work out! But I took a part-time job at a coffee shop and kept looking around. The beauty of my business degree (and education from Evangel) was that it gave me a broad set of skills which resulted in a career in the non-profit industry. Non-profits tend to operate on tight budgets, so there is a lot of freedom to develop your skills through all means available. When I left Idaho (where I lived after college), I had written and directed commercials, initiated a company rebranding, managed marketing and PR for events, and grew a social media presence for multiple non-profits both through my professional work and volunteer opportunities.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Don’t overlook smaller companies while you are checking out your job options. Sometimes the best opportunities come from the most unexpected places, not the big names you hear in the news. I’d also highly recommend summer internships – it’s a great way to try out different work environments without a long-term commitment.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

A positive, enthusiastic person who is willing to learn! A “perfect” employee is hard to find, but if you have the right attitude, that can make a big difference. Also, with nearly a decade of experience in the workforce, I’d recommend to anyone interested in the marketing field to learn general skills in graphic design and social media management. I’ve always had a good handle on social media, but I had to teach myself how to use all of the Adobe programs after college, and if I could go back in time, I would have taken a graphic design class in high school or college. It’s not required, but many employers seem to think you should know those skills if you work in marketing (in addition to being an excellent writer with strategic vision).