The 2020 job market is, well — bleak. But, superstar Clark professor (and Adidas alumnus) Lawrence Norman continues to push his students to seek experience in the field. As a result, Naomi Augustin’s stint with Start Line Brewing Company taught her the value of nuance, storytelling and building a personal brand. We spoke with her this week about navigating graduate school in an unprecedented time and the importance of gaining authentic experience.
How did you end up in Worcester?
I am originally from Saint Lucia, a really small Caribbean Island, but my family came up here so I could go to high school. Funny story, I actually did not apply to Clark. I didn’t know much about Clark until I learned I got accepted. When I came to visit, I was happy because I had been looking for a small, very intimate college.
What are you studying?
My major is business management. I’m on a marketing track with a double minor in entrepreneurship and East Asian studies.
Can you talk about how you landed an internship after taking a class with Professor Lawrence Norman?
I was really interested in the class overall. My entrepreneurship minor advisor actually told me that this was a new course Clark was offering and she thought I would be a good fit. I decided to take it. Professor Lawrence was definitely not your average college professor.
Yes, I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of his classes and by the end, I was like, “Where do I sign up?”
I think this was my favorite class that I’ve taken at Clark. It was definitely not conventional, which is something you expect here. He had my attention throughout the whole semester. It was one of the classes that I looked forward to every week. He taught us lessons, but not concepts that can only be applied academically; they applied to the real world. Basically, he coaches you in learning how to tell a story, how to brand yourself, and how to stand out while applying for jobs. When it came time for me to pursue an internship, he kind of acted as a network. Start Line Brewing Company is where I interned as a marketing consultant.
What sort of responsibilities did they task you with?
I was responsible for analyzing marketing strategies within the brewing industry in Massachusetts. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Massachusetts Brewers Guild. It’s a collection of breweries that came together to strengthen the industry, and I was tasked with looking at how they promote themselves to their customers. It was a combination of learning and consulting. One thing I learned about was the impact of branding colors and the importance of constructing your website in a way that makes it easy to view. Funny enough, I learned that a lot of breweries do not have websites built to sustain viewers by allowing them to browse. That was interesting. I came forward with a couple of recommendations for the company moving forward. The owner said he will be implementing some of the strategies that I suggested. In a few months, we’ll be able to see how Start Line has progressed.
Can you share one of the strategies you proposed, or are they top secret?
Sure. In regards to colors, I suggested the importance of understanding the emotion that is tied to your brand’s specific colors. For example, their website was a shade of green that was not associated with the tone of their business. Also, their content menu on the website kind of began to assimilate to other websites in the industry. I wanted to make sure Start Line would stand out from the rest of the industry as a whole.
The brewing industry is notorious for marginalizing women and people of color. Was that something that you felt comfortable addressing during your internship?
Yes, I had a valuable discussion at the end of my internship. I think, moving forward, understanding that human rights is a part of sustainability is pivotal. Overall, addressing issues that are beyond business is so important. I think one thing the company took away from my work is that it is important to have an overall brand purpose. Implementing your beliefs into your brand personality is a real challenge.
What is it like being a college student right now?
A little weird. It does not feel like we’re going to college, but I have a lot of work that definitely makes me a college student. I’m a fifth-year grad student. It has been a shift from undergrad to graduate-level work because it requires more personal responsibility.
Are most of your classes over Zoom?
Yes. I have one that’s a hybrid.
Is there a mechanism for you all to get tested at Clark whenever you need to?
Yeah. You can get tested whenever you need to, but it’s mandated that you get tested every three days, which is basically twice a week.
Is it a pretty quick process?
It only takes five minutes.
That’s awesome. What advice do you have for young people interested in studying marketing?
I think if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year with the influence of Professor Lawrence and Clark as a whole, it’s that even as a college student, just remember, you’re also building your brand. You’re building a picture of who you are. It’s not only corporations or companies that have a brand; you as an individual also have a brand. Represent yourself in the best way possible, especially when you interact with professionals in the industry. A lot of people are watching. As you go through college, take advantage of the strong influences and opportunities that are provided to you.