Get to know some of our College of Media alumni. Grace Chen (MS ’10 advertising) is a product manager at Meta.
When did you know that you wanted to study advertising?
As a child, I remember being very fascinated with old catalog ads. Throughout my childhood, a lot of advertising consisted of subscription-based magazines and order catalogs. I always thought about how much I loved seeing all these creative advertisements and innovative ideas. It even made me feel like I wanted to buy everything in the magazine. As I grew up, viewing TV commercials seemed like the coolest thing ever to me, for some reason. I've always been interested in studying advertising.
What are your main responsibilities as a product manager at Meta?
As a product manager at Meta, I work with engineers to build new products for Meta. I primarily work on a private communication team. My team's mission is to help people start and continue conversations on the Facebook app.
If you could describe the advertising industry in one word, what would it be?
Adaptive. A lot has changed since I started my first job in advertising, and change will continue to be constant in this industry. In the past, TV advertisements were a major shift in the industry. Now, advertising is completely digital. When I started my career, digital used to be about 5 to 10 percent of a client's budget, and now it's near 100 percent for some companies. People need to be adaptive to work in this industry and it will continue to evolve.
What are one or two skills you think one needs to be successful in the advertising industry?
It's important to not limit your understanding of advertising in terms of studying this major or finding a job. Today, media and technology are treated very similarly in the industry. Advertising, while part of media, is also part of technology. As a student, I believed I needed to get into an agency role right away, or work in the client side at some point. I didn’t realize that the industry is much bigger. It’s a good reminder to students entering the industry to notice how it has evolved, and the various opportunities that have been created as a result of the industry evolving. Another skill is adapting an understanding of the food chain of advertising. For example, if you join an agency and are at the lower end of the food chain, meaning more entry-level positions, you naturally have less say in your role. You may also find yourself wanting to have different responsibilities. It’s important that you know who the designated decision maker is in order to be efficient in responding to the needs of your job.
What is the most meaningful part of your job?
Right now, the most meaningful part of my job is working alongside a team of people I enjoy working with and who inspire me to be better! In the past, what I enjoyed the most about my job was being introduced to different product types and industries. In general, my interest in advertising sparked my curiosity to discover how aspects of the industry work together. It also gave me a good glimpse into the categories of products I could work for, whether it was working for pet foods, coffee products, entertainment services, and many more.
What advice would you give to students soon to graduate from the College of Media?
This next chapter in your life is the start of everything, not the end of things. Certainly, the job market may be tough at times. It's quite common and normal for people to feel a lot of uncertainty at times, especially considering that the economy is totally different now than in previous generations. Despite this, it’s important to remember that this is just the beginning, and you can continue to build your brand. This could be achieved by building up your portfolio from something you've never considered before. Always remember to stay hopeful and keep going!
Hear more from Grace Chen, who participated in a Media Career Night alumni panel on technology and media in Fall 2022. Watch a recording of the session here.
—Interview by Lauren Barjami, New Voices Intern