Katie Smith

Katie Smith

February 9, 2021

Katie Smith (2020)

Katie Smith is located in St. Louis, MO but still believes Kansas City, MO is the superior Missouri city.  After leaving Truman, Katie experienced several different environments from corporate hospitality to SaaS startup and marketing agencies. She enjoys her time in the office but when she’s not putting her degree to work, she’s spending her free time with her fiancé reminiscing with their time at Truman with friends.

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in 2017 with a concentration in Public Communication and a minor in English.

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

I was a fall 2013 member of Sigma Sigma Sigma. As a member of Greek life, I served on the Panhellenic Selection Committee (when ΔΦΕ was welcomed to campus) and was a part of the 2015 Greek Week Committee. I also worked for the CSI (now Involvment Services) in the SUB on the client management team starting my sophomore year and was the Client Management Team Lead my senior year.

The Fall 2013 pledge class of ΣΣΣ.

Did you go to grad school? If so, where?  Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait?  Why?

I did not go to grad school and likely won’t. The hands-on experience I received before and after I graduated paved my current career path and until I feel that a missing Masters degree is a barrier to entry, it won’t be a consideration.

What was your first job after graduation?

After I graduated, I accepted a paid internship position that I’d been told would lead to a full-time opportunity . . . and it did! I was a sales coordinator at the largest convention hotel in Kansas City. I supported the sales team and events team on-site. My role was a hybrid position with both administrative responsibilities to assist some of our sales staff and stand-alone projects that I had ownership over.

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

After a year at my first job, I knew I wanted to take the next step in my career, but it was also time to relocate to be in the same city as my now fiancé (who I met at Truman!). I took a position with a small SaaS startup which is owned by a St. Louis marketing agency. In my role as account executive, I spent much of my time on outbound sales to help push the product to market. Our team was fairly small and working with an almost exclusively technical team allowed me to pick up so much knowledge I would have otherwise not been exposed to.

Katie (right) and her roommate on move-in day in Ryle Hall (2013).

My role gave me enough technical experience to move into a Digital Producer position on the agency side of things and work day-to-day with our in-house development team on all sorts of digital projects for clients. The role allowed me to learn digital strategy, project management, and team leadership skills. I am still a digital producer but now work at a different agency.

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

My COMM education has enabled me to fit into the responsibilities of any role. The foundation of being a great employee and leader starts with communication. I’ve gone back to Communication Theory to better understand situations, applied tangible skills learned in classes like Organizational Communication or Experimental Methods, and rely daily on the critical thinking all of my professors expected.

Having a liberal arts education adds depth to whatever you encounter in life. Hands-on experiences are so important, but a liberal arts education adds the why and how to the things you face outside of class.

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

I would say Experimental Methods was a class that wasn’t very enjoyable but taught me how crucial data driven research is. Survey data backs information that we encounter every day and I think I have more respect and understanding for what news I consume.

Katie and her fiancé Aaron (2020).

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

My first two years at Truman I felt like I was just going through the motions to get my degree and have a social life, but I started to realize I was missing exposure to real life experiences that I could apply after graduation. I started applying for on-campus jobs and committees and slowly I started to build up capabilities that would carry over and build a foundation for my career.

I began working in the SUB/CSI my sophomore year (after not getting the job the first time I interviewed) and built up a great understanding of Truman’s space management and reservation process. I first helped manage all of the outdoor space reservations then had complete ownership over it, and by my senior year I was on the leadership team in the CSI. I was the Client Management Team Lead and managed a group of student workers with the help of the professional staff. The experience was so integral to understanding project management and building leadership skills.

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

Truman is a great place to study because of the community. There are so many groups and organizations to join that finding common ground or interests is very attainable. The professors and professional staff on campus are dedicated to the students’ best interest and will set time aside to create personal connections with you. Overall, the student life is close knit and Truman is small enough to create your own community but it’s not so big that you feel lost in the shuffle.

Katie (2nd row, far right), a member of the Greek Week Court (2017).

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Find an internship, hold a position within an organization, be a TA, or serve on campus committees. You don’t have to dedicate an entire summer to an unpaid internship to gain relevant experience if that isn’t feasible for you. There are opportunities on campus during the semester that may have a lower barrier to entry or that don’t require as large of a time commitment. It doesn’t matter so much what you do at Truman but get involved in extracurricular activities because those experiences add up. (Editor’s note: Things like the Truman Media Network!)

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

Working in an agency setting is so fun because you are exposed not only to different clients but the people you work with are experts in their field. Surrounding yourself with people who are dedicated to their line of work is motivating but it also broadens your understanding of that subject. For instance, on any given day I work with creative directors, developers, copywriters, and technical leads which strengthens my ability to speak to those areas with clients and coworkers.

If you’re interested in working for a marketing or advertising agency be ready to absorb knowledge from everyone in the room and see the value in working as a team. Speak to your experiences where you’ve worked collaboratively on class projects or within student organizations when applying to agency positions. Sometimes career paths aren’t linear, so always be open to roles that will provide experience and connections that may lead to future opportunities, especially right after graduation.

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

Hands down, being so close to my friends! Truman’s campus and Kirksville are incredibly walkable even in the dead of winter. I miss crossing paths with sorority sisters or classmates on and off campus.

What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?

I’m not a copywriter for a reason… but maybe “COMM will take you far in life and far from campus.”  (Editor’s note: We still maintain that Barnett Hall is not that far away. )

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?

Katie (left) with friend Kenady, also a COMM grad (2017).

I would teach a class about professional communication and leadership. I believe that all of the communication classes touch on elements of this topic but having a dedicated class to discuss and explore different methods of communication would be useful for any COMM student regardless of their career path after graduation.

What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?

Whatever experience you’re looking for in college, Truman can offer it. There are so many opportunities on Truman’s campus, in and outside of the classroom that can be leveraged to learn and experience what you’re interested in. An education in communication can be applied to almost any area in the workforce so don’t be afraid if you’re unsure exactly what you want to do after graduation.

If you would like to learn more of Katie’s story, you can follow her on LinkedIn.


If you want to learn more about the Department of Communication, contact us!