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  • Writer's pictureSovechea Sophanna

Alum Q&A: Hannah McConnaughey

Meet Hannah! As a former member of our AMA exec team, she has been a huge part of making the club what it is today—from building brand awareness as the VP of Marketing to launching AMA's very first case competition with Starbucks. Her experiences in undergrad have led to her current position in Global Employee & Executive Communications at Microsoft. Read more about all about things she wish she knew in college and how her experiences led her to where she is now.


Q: What was your involvement in AMA?

I was a brand ambassador working on graphic design and marketing my sophomore year, and then took over the VP of Marketing role my junior and senior year. I also got to launch our annual case competition and partner with Starbucks as our first year co-host!

Q: What other organizations/activities were you involved in at UW?

While I was at UW, I was Editor-in-Chief of our Her Campus chapter for three years, founded and wrote the UW Student Life blog, was an Odegaard Writing and Research Center tutor, did a bunch of case competitions, and was a TA for some law, marketing, and business communications classes. At the time, it felt like I was all over the place, but hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easier to see now how all these different activities prepared me for my current job and future career. I’d highly recommend everyone to get involved with activities outside their major—it’s a great way to grow your skill set and network as well as avoid getting stuck in your own bubble.

Q: Where do you work now? What do you do there?

I am head over heels in love with my job in Global Employee & Executive Communications at Microsoft. On the employee side, I work on things like our speaker series and internal-facing websites, and on the executive side, I support external and internal communications from our c-suite and other executives including our current COVID-19 response. My favorite part of my role is that I get to work with people and projects all across the company and across the world.

Q: How did AMA impact you and help you get to where you are now?

AMA was the very first club I joined as a freshman and really confirmed for me that marketing was what I wanted to do. In terms of how it’s impacted and helped me, I’m not even sure where to start... I got to meet some of my closest friends who have gone on to do incredible things. I got to make professional connections with our speakers, some of whom I still go to for advice today. My time on the exec team gave me so much leadership and marketing experience for my resume, but it also challenged me to be more creative, more independent, and make my own impact on the club. I couldn’t imagine my time at UW without AMA and am endlessly grateful for all the opportunities it gave me (hello? Who gets to lead a co-branded project with Starbucks at 21?). I’ve talked about AMA in every single internship or job interview I’ve ever had, and I know that it was the launchpad for building a career in marketing I love.

Q: What is your favorite AMA memory or favorite event that you attended?

I obviously have to say the Starbucks + UW AMA Case Competition back in spring 2018! After months of logistics, marketing, writing, and brand work behind the scenes, we announced the competition and challenged UW students to form teams and work together to propose a strategy to increase Frappuccino popularity in the Asia Pacific Region. We maxed out our registration list weeks before the competition even started, and seeing everyone’s enthusiasm and creativity was so rewarding. It was also really fulfilling to see how the professional judges from Starbucks were inspired by the students’ ideas, and getting to take the top two teams to present their proposals at Starbucks headquarters was definitely a college—and career—highlight for me.

Q: What is something that you wish you knew in college?

In college, I feel like people were always trying to one-up each other about how tired they were, how little they slept, how over-scheduled they were, how many hours they spent late-night studying at Ode, in this weird unhealthy competition. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I totally got sucked in. There were times when I was so overwhelmed because I felt like I had to do it all and say yes to everything, and I just ended up exhausted, incredibly burned out, and living off caffeine.

College is not the misery Olympics! You have to take care of yourself. Exhaustion, a packed calendar, or humble-brags about how you have too much on your plate are not badges of honor. Sometimes, they’re red flags that you’re on the fast-track to burnout.

Q: What is your #1 piece of advice for students preparing to graduate?

Success doesn’t look a certain way or come on a certain schedule. I think I spent way too long trying to chase what everyone else wanted instead of being brutally honest with myself that I wanted something different. It was a tough realization because, at least in my case, it meant leaving this really clear, laid-out career path and figuring things out on my own, but I’ve ended up being so much happier. Be really honest with yourself about what you want, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. People want you to succeed at your dream! You don’t have to settle for a “safe” choice or your Plan B.

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