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College of Information and Communications

  • Jay Goodwin

Turning connections into a career

Posted February 17, 2020

How do you go from anthropology major to building an agency’s voice marketing department? Just ask Ja’Qor “Jay” Goodwin, strategist and voice team lead for Nebo in Atlanta. The 2018 MMC alumnus shares how he got where he is today and offers advice for students hoping to do the same.

How did your Master of Mass Communication degree lead you to your current work at Nebo Agency?
I was Bonnie Drewniany’s teaching assistant for Super Bowl of Advertising during my first semester in the MMC program. Being her TA led me to an internship in account planning at BBDO San Francisco. In my time there, I met strategists from sparks & honey, and I freelanced there during my last semester of grad school. I ended up taking a position at Nebo instead of sparks & honey, but every connection I’ve made in the agency world has largely come from someone I met or something I did while in the MMC program.

What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating with your master’s?
I’ve had the chance to build an entirely new voice marketing department. I think that was largely because I also host and brought the agency’s IGTV to life. Being 25 and having the opportunity to have such a big impact is incredibly daunting (and often frustrating), but it keeps me on my toes and always trying to learn.

What are a few career goals that you still have for the future?
Digital isn’t my strong suit, but I have an immediate goal for the next few years to learn as much as I can and become a respected digital-leaning strategist. Beyond that, I’d like to get back into a creative agency and do more traditional account planning and brand work. Finally, I have this idea that within 10 years, I’ll decide if I’m going to go back for a Ph.D. in applied anthropology and business or communications.

What are you passionate about in your work?
I’m passionate about two things, and they’re things I try to do to maximize my value to the agency: First, bring academia into marketing decisions. Strategists consult countless places for research and context, but I try to go to the literature first to get a sense of what it is I’m trying to make happen. And second, keep it human-focused. My B.A. is in anthropology, and I try to use that to guide what I say and how I say things. After all, if we’re trying to create conversations or nudge people to take a certain action, we should understand and talk to them on their own terms. 

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?
The value of theoretical frameworks for communications  — specifically, the Communication Technology Ecosystem approach in Augie Grant’s New Technologies and the Media course. I used that framework to inform my research into voice marketing and present to the agency how we should evaluate the technology. I’m often on the hunt for theoretical frameworks from literature when I try to gather context for assignments.

Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?
Bonnie Drewniany and the Super Ad Poll in 2017.

Many of our students aspire to hold positions like yours. What advice do you have for them?
Don’t put so much pressure on your first job — chances are it won’t be exactly what you want to do, and you’ll probably not love it. Do your best and get as much experience as you can. 

Lean on your professors — I’m very confident that I would not be in the position I am right now had it not been for Augie Grant telling me about the MMC program after I graduated. Without Bonnie Drewniany, I wouldn’t have gone to BBDO or met people at sparks & honey.

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