Karlee Szeliga

First, Karlee, tell us a little about yourself. How’d you get to where you’re at? We’d love to hear your story.

My name is Karlee Szeliga and I am a University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication alum with a degree in Professional Strategic Communication. After graduating in May, I accepted an internship with BBDO Minneapolis as the social media intern for the summer. When it was time for my internship to come to an end, I was offered a full-time position as a Community Manager, which I happily accepted.

I am an extreme workaholic, but when I am not trolling Twitter or Instagram for awesome brand content, you can find me spending all my money at the mall, binging at brunch with my friends, or hiding in my apartment surrounded by succulents reading the latest and greatest New York Times best-seller.

What is it exactly about the world of advertising that truly excites you and ignites your passion?

In a very cliche and predictable manner, my favorite thing about the world of advertising is that it is constantly changing. One thing you find works for one agency today could be completely irrelevant and boring the next. The industry standards for creativity and reaching audiences are constantly being raised, forcing you to stay on your toes. I love the switch from advertising being an in-your-face ad that interrupts your YouTube video, to a more native, conversational interaction between brands and consumers.

What efforts did you take to secure your internship at BBDO?

First and foremost, I connected with the hiring manager on LinkedIn before sending in my application. I wanted to make sure my name stood out when she was browsing through applicants. Then, I did my research. I looked into everything I could find online about BBDO. I checked out their website, online portfolio, LinkedIn profiles and other social media pages. I wanted to know exactly what I was getting myself into before the interview. This was super helpful because, at the interview, I was able to chat with the employees about the work they had done or were doing, which made conversation really natural and fun. Then, once you land the position, it is all about working your butt off and proving that you will be a valuable asset for the agency to operate at its best.

What were the top three things you learned from your internship?

The top three things I learned during my summer with BBDO were:

  1. Listen and ask questions all the time. It is the best way to learn.
  2. How to be confident in the skills I have. I know they're there, but using them and being proud to present them to other people is a different story. You should always speak up.
  3. Sleep is important, but coffee is even more important.

We couldn’t agree more about number three. Okay, how did you decide to pursue social media in your professional life?

One of my closest friends says, "it never surprised me you went to work in a social media department because you were the first person in our entire high school to have Twitter when we all thought it was stupid." Social media has been a part of my everyday life since AOL chat after school. It is my go-to for everything — I use it to stay in touch with friends, it is where I get all of my news, it serves as a creative outlet for me, so I figured (in the most millennial way possible) why not blend my personal hobby into a professional career?

Where would you like to see yourself in three to five years from now?

I would love to dive into the international advertising sector, which was sparked when I spent some time in the Middle East this past winter where I studied the impact of social media on the region. I love learning about new markets and new people so I'm hoping to get out of the United States for a while to see what the rest of the world thinks of advertising. I want to learn how it operates differently in other countries and learn how to talk to different groups of people through digital media.

If you could give advice to students looking to find their dream internship, what would you tell them?

Never stop applying and be open to anything that comes your way. Even if it's not exactly what you are looking for, many internships in agencies are more than willing to let you join in on anything and everything you are interested in learning more about. I have dipped my toes in creative development, strategy, and other departments at BBDO. This taught me so much about how the agency world operates. Also, when you're looking, USE LINKEDIN. I cannot express the importance of this enough. It may seem like an obvious route but do it. Use LinkedIn to look for job postings, for networking with people in positions you're interested in, and to learn more about agency culture. And lastly, I think it is really important in this industry to have an online presence and portfolio to show what you have done and what you're capable of doing.

Tell us about a mentor of yours and how she or he has helped you along the way.

Nathan Waldvogel is my mentor and he is the best mentor around (I might be biased). He was my manager at my student job at the U of M, and he is my go-to person for not only professional advice, but also personal advice. He uses his past experience in the industry to educate me on what to expect and how best to react to certain situations. One of the most valuable things Nathan has done for me as a mentor and friend is really believed in me. His support helped me develop confidence in my work. He pushed me to be my best, hardest working self, so I give him a lot of credit for where I am now. He also finds all the best cat videos on the Internet and that is a very important trait to have.

What is the most memorable experience you've had as an intern this summer?

I have to say making the Statue of Liberty and New York City skyline out of Black Label Bacon for our client stands out. I love to do crafts and this was just weird enough to be awesome.

What's your definition of what it takes to make a MPLS MadWoman?

My definition of a MPLS MadWoman is someone who knows her professional and personal self-worth and is not afraid to let it show. She is confident, possesses raw talent and does not compare herself to others. Instead, she brings out the best in people around her.


MadWoman of the month is a monthly series of interviews highlighting an amazing woman each month in our community, voted for by the community, and published on the Egotist. We’re thrilled to shine a light on inspirational women. Nominate the next MadWoman of the Month on twitter.