Lauren McNulty graduated PC in 2015 with a degree in business management. She began working at a medical device company in Smithfied, RI upon graduation, and that’s where she officially started her career in marketing. After two years, Lauren transitioned to Boston where she began working for athenahealth as an account based marketing associate.
Q: Why did you choose to be a management major? Did you know you always wanted to go into healthcare? If not, what steps or experiences did you go through to help you navigate what field you wanted to end up in?
After coming into PC undeclared, I decided to declare my management major after taking my first management class second semester of my freshman year. I had an adjunct professor who brought in a lot of real-life experience, and our grades were focused more on group projects and presentations, rather than paper tests and Scantrons. Although I had an interest in marketing, I really thought the practical skills I was learning in my management classes were all-encompassing of those which I would need in the business world. Although my first job out of college was in healthcare, I didn’t know I really wanted to be in the healthcare industry until my job at athenahealth when I started to feel like I had the latitude and capability in my line of work to make a difference in the healthcare industry. Having a clearer understanding of my role within the bigger picture has really helped me to discover my passion in healthcare and how I can personally grow and develop in the industry.
Q: Could you tell us about some of the extracurricular activities and internships you did at your time here at PC that you feel as though really helped your professional development and advanced your learning about your desired field?
I was a member of Student Congress and Admissions Ambassadors while I was at PC, and I felt like both clubs really helped me to hone in on skills such as public speaking, thinking on my feet, marketing, and even networking. I was able to work with a lot of different staff members and students throughout my time on both clubs, many of which I stay in touch with today. I loved being involved at PC; I really valued the feeling of community, and it was also important to me to find that sense of culture and camaraderie in my life beyond PC.
My first internship was during my junior year at Rhode Island Monthly magazine. Balancing school and a part-time job downtown was incredibly difficult, but a lot of what I was learning in both my classes and my internship complemented each other. For my internship, I helped plan the Best of Rhode Island® event that occurs at PPAC every summer while I was simultaneously working to plan a fundraising event for one of my classes on campus. Having this internship where I was learning how marketing and event planning worked outside of our campus allowed me to apply those learnings directly to my projects on campus, and that dynamic really helped to make our on-campus event successful.
Q: What was the best thing you did as an undergrad to help you get to where you are?
The best thing I did as an undergrad that has impacted my career the most was taking organizational behavior with Tom King. He was my professor for that junior year fundraising project mentioned above, and I honestly think it really prepared me to think outside of typical marketing campaigns to connect with others.
For our project, we had to pair with a charitable organization (my group chose Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State (BBBSOS)) and raise money for them. In class, Tom encouraged us to engage in dialogues and discuss what we had learned from our readings, but the project was entirely up to us to conduct. In order to have a “successful” event, we had to collaborate and work with several different cohorts, departments, members of the community, donors, and students to organize and accomplish our goal. After thinking about the mission behind BBSOS, we decided to host an event in Alumni Hall and have Coach Cooley speak about his life story and how he got to where he is today. This aligned thought leadership helped elevate the mission behind BBSOS, and his story helped to inspire families, kids, basketball teams, and students in the audience to take advantage of opportunities and education and turn them into something great. This project taught me that there were multiple ways to measure success; we measured everything from funds raised, to social media impressions, to the effectiveness of storytelling, all of which helped us to convey our message to a greater audience.
Q: Could you tell us what a ABM Marketing Associate does and what a typical day looks like for you at athenahealth?
ABM stands for account-based marketing, which is a combination of research and business to business marketing. My team and I perform research on specific health systems across the country and look for ways that athenahealth can add value to each of their organizations. When we identify these opportunities, we use creative marketing tactics to engage with our targeted audience on a more personal level. Our team’s goal is to effectively bridge the gap between our internal sales and marketing organizations. So a typical day involves some level of research, collaborating with other teams and stakeholders, and putting these tactics into market. Outside of my day to day tasks, I really enjoy the culture at athena that values an “unconditional positive regard,” which fosters an environment of collaboration, empowerment, and sense of community.
Q: Have you had any exciting projects? If so, what were they?
Yes! And the organizational theory project described above definitely helped me to prepare for it. Back in September, my manager asked me to develop a campaign that would highlight some top-of-mind issues in the industry. So I thought, “How can we engage with a lot of people about something they all care about?” At the time, I had just attended a trade show in October that focused on innovation in healthcare, and many of the executives there mentioned the need for a forum or platform to share their ideas with one another. For my “project,” I came up with the idea to create the “athenahealth Innovation Awards,” which occurred at a large industry trade show in March of this year.
At the athenahealth Innovation Awards this past March, we awarded 4 organizations for the innovative healthcare programs that they have built. Not only were these programs positively disrupting the healthcare industry, but they were also innovations that could be adopted by any organization, regardless of size. These innovative programs addressed various topics such as collaboration among competitors, the impact of loneliness on health, the opioid epidemic, and automating workflow for physicians. At the awards, recipients engaged in fireside chat-style conversations to share details about their program and how they are working to transform healthcare, in the hopes that others can learn from their insights. In addition to celebrating these award recipients, we also were able to publicly share athenahealth’s focus on innovations in healthcare, beyond our own products.
In order to get this project off the ground, I had to coordinate with a lot of different teams, including our internal events team, our PR team, our award winners, and our CEO, Jonathan Bush, who presented the awards at the event. It was rewarding to collaborate with different people and leaders in the industry, and it was encouraging to hear that other organizations are considering implementing similar innovative programs to better their communities.
Q: What is one piece of advice you wish you knew back in your undergrad days at PC?
I would say that my two pieces of advice are to network and to not get too comfortable in your comfort zone, both of which are loosely reflected upon in this article published in The Wall Street Journal last month (I think that article is a really good read for anyone, especially those who are just entering the workforce).
When it comes to networking—or really just making connections—you never know who can help you in your career, or when your paths will cross again with someone. Having a wide range of connections to reach out to is certainly helpful. Both my first job and now my job at athenahealth came as a result of a friend recommending me to the position(s), and I don’t know if my resume would have been read without them.
Second, I would say don’t get too comfortable in your comfort zone. I’ve known so many people that either dislike their jobs and accept that the real world can stink, or they have a position where they get into a routine and limit their growth as a result of being complacent. Don’t be afraid to question processes, disrupt the status quo, and think big. This is wildly optimistic, but if you feel limited, maybe there is a different project you can take part in or even another place or job out there that better suits your personality. Your first job out of college may not be glamorous or give you all the opportunities you had ever hoped for in life, but the important thing is that you make connections, learn more about yourself, and learn what you want out of your career as a result of it.
Interested in reading about more of the PCSB’s amazing alumni network? Click here to find the rest of out I Want Your Job blog posts!