Breanna (Rigger) RubyAugust 4, 2020
Breanna (Rigger) Ruby is a Business Systems Analyst at Bullhorn, an enterprise end-to-end Recruiting SAAS (software as a service) company, and is celebrating her 3-year anniversary there this summer. At Bullhorn, she’s also involved in HERd, a Women in Tech employee group. Breanna lives in South St. Louis City with her husband David (a fellow Truman grad) and her gigantic Great Pyrenees Bjorn. When she isn’t telling her stakeholders no, she enjoys hiking, event planning, hosting the St. Louis College of Beer, and evangelizing all of the amazing things about STL City to anyone in earshot.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I served as Editor as well as committee co-chair for a few committees in Sigma Alpha Iota (the women’s music fraternity), a volunteer at Victim Support Services, and on the publicity team briefly for TMN.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
No, but never say never. My current career path doesn’t really need a Masters, but I have some future dreams a Masters would complement. I’m also jealous of all my friends who have one thanks to Truman’s 5-year MAE program, as well as my husband (who has an MS), and I want to be like them.
What was your first job after graduation?
I was a Technical Support Analyst for Bullhorn which is an enterprise recruiting SAAS company. I answered phones, troubleshot technical issues, and helped clients with the product. All of the jokes about working in IT are completely true.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I’m still at Bullhorn, but moved from Support to Customer Experience, and then onto where I am now working as a Business Systems Analyst internally on our Information Productivity Team. We steer strategic organizational projects that increase efficiency across all of the software and systems we use to do our work. Our clients are our internal colleagues across multiple departments. I partner with Sales, Finance, Marketing, HR, Support and Professional Services teams to document, improve and integrate their processes. I basically try to make it easier for employees to do their work so they can go out and create an incredible product and experience for our clients. I honestly love my job and industry, and I feel like I get to work with some of the most clever and driven people. Plus the room for career growth is unmatched.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
With my BA, I have to become an expert in any system or process we encounter and then know how it applies to the broader context and solution design for it. A liberal arts education truly helps you to know a little about a lot and forces you to get outside of your comfort zone. It helps you be flexible and work through ambiguity. Combining a liberal arts education with a COMM degree helped me to get better at asking the right questions, understanding how information or data flows through an organization/system, and be comfortable communicating my ideas effectively to different audiences.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
I don’t think I ever really disliked a class at Truman, but I’m really grateful Experimental Methods was required because I probably wouldn’t have taken it otherwise. Having the applied experience of conducting an experiment with a team was huge.
Sharing my experience from Experimental Methods is actually what helped me earn a promotion a couple years ago from my first role. Because I was familiar with qualitative research and analysis, I was a great candidate for a Customer Experience Analyst role where I dove into what makes a customer experience good or bad, and then designed and presented data-driven solutions to improve customer and employee experience. Additionally, Organizational Communication and Business Communication were two super helpful classes I’m so glad I took because I apply what I learned every single day in my role.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
I am super proud of my time as the committee chair for the New Horizons Music Festival (now called the North Star Music Festival) that Sigma Alpha Iota hosts annually. It was the perfect culmination of everything I learned from my time in the music department, in the SAI org and as a COMM major. We explored new social media techniques, bulked up our advertising strategy, and engaged with new ensembles and partners. I used the whole experience for my semester-long event project for my Public Relations class which was an added bonus. I feel honored to have contributed to the legacy of the event, and I love seeing how much it has grown since.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
The value is obviously a huge factor. The type of instruction and opportunities you can receive compared to the cost and school size is amazing.
At Truman, if you get involved and take advantage of opportunities, you get to be a big fish in a little pond with a ton of autonomy. You won’t be able to go to a larger university and have the same role you can have in student media as an undergrad, have one-on-one time with esteemed professors, or in my case, put on an annual festival dedicated to new music that costs thousands of dollars with some department and FAC funds and trust from a faculty sponsor.
I may not have had the time or money to take on an internship, but Truman and the organizations I was in gave me more than enough opportunities to practically apply what I learned and gain experience.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
I know most people will say get involved as much as possible and join organizations that interest you or relate to your desired profession. I agree with that whole-heartedly. The opportunities I took advantage of, even if they created a lot of stress at times, gave me a ton of invaluable hands-on experience.
On the flip side, a COMM student should absolutely give themselves a break. You do not have to be in every or any COMM related club, or in multiple internships, or hold multiple leadership roles to be a successful person. Challenge and apply for yourself for sure, but don’t compare yourself to your peers, and don’t overwork yourself. You are allowed as a student to have a life and take classes outside of Barnett Hall, it is good for you!
Non-serious answer: Get off the beaten path and explore Rainbow Basin during the fall.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
The Tech Industry is fast-paced and ever evolving. Think of how often Instagram changes their UI or consider what your cell phone looked like 5 years ago! This constant change creates a lot of chaos and it can be overwhelming at times to know you’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before and you’re the one who has to figure out how to do it.
In my experience, big, scary overwhelming tasks are opportunities for you to grow and bloom. Sticking it out when it’s hard, setting boundaries, and effectively communicating give you autonomy over what you do and allows you to set your own course and innovate. I’ve progressed the most when I’ve had to do really hard things without a clear path or guidance. Use your critical thinking skills to push through the ambiguity, just like what your professors are telling you to do when they give you a big group assignment. Hang in there. All of this chaos allows you to get a ton of experience and progress your career much quicker than you’d expect.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
Being in close proximity to my friends. Thursday night SAI chapter meetings. Thursday nights in general. That my main responsibility was to learn. Feeling like an important scholar when I’d show up to Pickler with my backpack full of textbooks and snacks and then write a paper that was due the next day for 9 hours straight. Those were the days…
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
Truman COMM: “Come for the Public Speaking requirement, stay for the cool electives.”
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
COMM 800: The Art of Gathering – I got incredibly inspired reading The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker recently, though it probably wasn’t the best choice to read quarantining in the middle of a pandemic. All I want to do now is plan an event. She dove into what makes a gathering good, on any scale. Reading it from my COMM grad perspective sucked me in even more because it was applying theories from rhetoric, public relations, and interpersonal relationships in exciting and thoughtful ways. I would love to teach a small discussion based class centered around the book and other similar materials to get everyone’s perspectives about vulnerability and intention in relation to gatherings, and then work on establishing our own meaningful and memorable gatherings as a semester project.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
I came to the COMM major late, starting on all the major requirements besides Public Speaking my Junior year. I was a Music Ed major and decided it wasn’t for me, although I sincerely loved the Music Department and what I was learning there. I would’ve had to build out my own degree plan if I wanted to focus more on music business, which is what I was more interested in than being a teacher or a full-time musician.
COMM seemed like a more flexible option to give me tools to succeed anywhere I wanted to go and develop skills I was passionate about. Though starting late limited my time to be more involved with the department, internships, and COMM organizations, I’m so glad I made the switch to such a fantastic major. If you’re a prospective or a current student looking into COMM, I cannot recommend it enough. Make the leap.