As a marketing professional, Kara Drinkard has had many great experiences with internships and jobs since graduation from the University of Washington. After starting as a business major, Kara soon realized that she was more passionate about Communications, which combined her business and marketing interests. Not only has Kara had a great career so far (she’s only 28!), her experiences in high school and college helped to shape her life today. One of these experiences includes building houses in Mexico, which was life changing for her. We had the opportunity to talk to Kara about what motivates her, how she manages her time, and what advice she has for those interested in marketing. Read on to learn more!
Name: Kara Drinkard
Education: B.A. in Communications from University of Washington with a Certificates of Sales from Foster School of Business
How do you define seizing your youth?
I was blessed growing up because I went to a lot of summer camps, went to Mexico to build houses, and was really involved with the Boys and Girls Club. I was the President of the Youth Board there. We had weekly meetings and did community service activities. Take advantage of any kind of opportunity you have when you’re a teenager, and even before that. It sounds so cliché, but also seek out opportunities and get outside of your comfort zone. If something makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way, you will probably have a great learning experience. Taking opportunities that you have when you’re younger, or seek out things you can do to be active in your community.
What did you major in at the University of Washington and how did you determine what to study?
I majored in Communications, as well as the Sales Program through the business school. I originally started out as a business major, thinking I was going to go that route. I started taking all of the classes, absolutely hated accounting, and then realized how many more math and statistic classes I would have had to take, so I switched majors.
Communications was a great marriage between what I liked about business and marketing. Somewhere in my first year, I went the Communications route. I ended up doing the Sales Program because it was a good opportunity to get the business degree in with my Communications degree. If your school offers a program like that, I recommend taking it.
What made you interested in studying Communications?
I’ve always been interested in marketing, but also in how people work and how they work together. I’m also interested in how brands and companies make things work. I’ve always been creative and artsy. I’m not an artist, but I like being creative and being involved with business. I don’t think there was one thing that made me want to go that route, but with my creative mind and organized, planner-type personality, it felt natural.
What advice would you give teenagers or young adults who are interested in marketing?
Take every opportunity you have. Do job shadows with someone in marketing, internships, or meeting with someone in a position you want. Make school a priority. Push yourself, and if you can, go to college and get your degree. Even if not just for the sake of getting a job, go to college for the experience. Meet everyone you can in the industry that you are interested in.
Were there any high school or college experiences you had that were most memorable or life changing?
For me, building houses in Mexico in high school was life changing. We stayed in an area that was basically a landfill, and being exposed to the different lifestyle was eye-opening. It shed some light on being grateful for what we have, and it makes you want to work harder to make your dreams happen. I did that in high school three times, so that was a big one.
In college, my internship at KOMO TV was a big one. It was fun to be around the news anchors and have stuff going on all the time. Not only did I end up working part-time for the radio promotions staff, but I am still in contact with the people I worked with. That was a really great people experience.
What motivates you?
I have big expectations for myself and the type of life I want to live. I want to travel and have a successful career and make things happen in the companies I work for, so the idea of not wanting to regret or look back on anything in my life and wishing I had done something. You only get one chance to do what you want to do in your life, and if your situation is not good, do what you have to do to make it right.
You are in control of your destiny, and no one can change your situation but you. I am the one who is going to ultimately determine what I do with my life. I don’t want to be 80-years-old and look back with regret.
How do you know when your gut is right, and how do you distinguish between your head and your heart?
That’s a hard one. A lot of times, when you have a gut feeling, there are other signs that go along with it. There might be little hints and clues as to why something might not be right for you. If your gut senses hesitation, listen. If your gut is just nervous because you’re outside of your comfort zone, push yourself and don’t make excuses. When your brain and your gut together are questioning something, that’s when you need to listen to it. Sometimes it is hard to determine and you don’t always know.
How do you stay organize and how do you time manage?
I’m old school and I like to have a notebook. I’ll write down everything I need to do each day, and then create plans for everything. Whether it’s creating a calendar or timeline, I love to do those things. I use my phone to set reminders for myself. I don’t use any fancy apps, I just write things down and keep everything in order and moving along.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I would tell myself to always trust my gut, whether it’s a work or personal situation. You know what’s best for you. I’ve always wanted to live in Southern California, and even though I applied and got into colleges there, I stayed here where my family and long-term boyfriend were. If you have the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, do it and do what’s best for you. Sometimes you have to think about yourself.