Elize Mercer

At the time of this interview, Elize worked as the Director of Brand and Marketing at Spire Collective.

How did you get into marketing?

I graduated in 2010 with an economics degree. I actually knew I was interested in marketing during undergrad, so that made my search a bit easier. My first job at a marketing agency happened to pair me up with a lot of travel clients, and I found that the travel industry really interested me. I got an opportunity to move in-house and lead a marketing program for a small travel site; I loved it but switched jobs because of COVID’s impact on the travel industry. I most recently worked for Spire Collective, which owns two e-commerce sites. There, I led the marketing efforts and was also in charge of branding, so my marketing career took a more creative direction. 

What might students do to gauge their interest in marketing?

I knew I wanted to do marketing because of an internship experience with a small consulting company in my hometown. The internship was very broad in scope, and I found that the marketing-related tasks I did were the most interesting. So, I chose to focus my job search on marketing, and I talked to people involved in marketing at job fairs to learn more about what they do day-to-day. My first job came from contacts that I made at a UVA career fair! 

What skills and experiences would be helpful in your field?

I’d like to emphasize soft skills, because communication and interpersonal skills are so important when it comes to getting along with clients and teams. To show this in interviews, tell stories and talk about your role---from a school, work, volunteer, or extracurricular experience---in certain situations and how you learned from that situation. One of the recruiters I talked to gave me a memorable framework for how to navigate interview questions that involved storytelling. It consisted of four things you should address for each question: what the situation was, what your intended tasks were, what actions you took to do your part, and what the results of those actions were. (This is called the STAR technique.) I recommend searching for behavioral interview sample questions online and practicing them ahead of time.

What can students do right now to bolster their job search?

When you find a job opportunity that catches your eye, make sure to tailor your resume to the job that you are applying for. Read the company's values, mission statement, and job description and highlight requirements that mirror skills you have. Then, find a way to work some of that wording into your resume or cover letter. Don't copy/paste word-for-word, but do include personal success stories that relate to specific skills the job is asking for.