Trent Chaffee ’09

Major: American Studies
Concentration(s): Media Studies, Management Studies
Current Position: Project Administrator in Marketing Services at BI WORLDWIDE in Edina, MN

What is your current position? What are your responsibilities? 

As a Project Administrator in Marketing at BI WORLDWIDE, I manage the development of marketing materials and client portfolios our US and Canadian sales fields. I also provide support in social media, branding, direct mail, website management, client presentations and events. Overall, I love my job!

Why did you choose to pursue a career in this field?

My interest started in high school and deepened at St. Olaf with Professor Sonnega as my advisor and my thought-provoking Media Studies, Management Studies and American Studies coursework. My internships honed my career direction and made me competitive so I could get interviews to land that first full-time job. Today, I love the marketing world because it touches so many different personalities. I work daily with sales executives, creative designers, tech gurus and analytical thinkers. It is a joy that the work I produce influences and engages people.

How did you gain the experience necessary for this position?

My resume started when I sent the editor of St. Olaf magazine a feature I wrote for my high school newspaper. My experience in the St. Olaf Marketing-Communications Department built a portfolio for me to apply for internships with Minnesota businesses that Kirsten Cahoon nurtures and brings to St. Olaf. I learned a little more about my strengths and what I enjoyed after each of my five paid internships. (Here is my Linkedin profile.)

How did your Media Studies coursework or experiences help you get where you are today?

Every Media Studies lecture or meeting, especially those with Professor Sonnega, left me excited, laughing, and mentally exhausted. I didn’t view my media classes as homework, and that’s why I knew I wanted a career that touched media in one way or another. Professor Sonnega encouraged me to spend more time with Kirsten Cahoon to find internships. Those experiences defined my interests and solidified my liberal arts degree that some employers may have difficulty understanding.

Any advice you would give a Media Studies student knowing what you know now? 

Wherever you are in your St. Olaf education, plan your career path. Take it seriously. Don’t let your interims and summers go to waste- get industry experience you can put on a resume. You may find yourself in an internship you despise, and that’s great. You’ll know better next time. The job and internship market is very competitive, so network, network, network. Now. Introduce yourself to Kirsten Cahoon and the Piper Center for Vocation and Career staff. You don’t have to have all the answers – just think and act for the future.