“I had interned at The Boettcher Foundation twice during college, and it was a great experience, but I definitely didn’t think I wanted to work there,” Pooley said.
After graduating from DU in 2014 as a Boettcher Scholar with a strategic communications degree and minors in leadership, marketing and psychology, Pooley found herself reaching out to Boettcher’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Katy Craig, about job opportunities in the Denver area when Craig asked Pooley to join them at the foundation in a time when the importance of communications had not yet been realized by large organizations like the foundation.
“I feel like I’m constantly having to portray the value of communications,” Pooley said. “A lot of people in the corporate world, and even the non-profit sector, just don’t get it.” The role of someone like Pooley is to make those people understand and appreciate the presence of a strong communications department for an organization’s success.
After two years, countless hours spent in meetings at the office’s grand conference tables and hundreds of thousands of words in press releases, Pooley has established herself as the Boettcher Foundation’s Strategic Communications Coordinator. In this position, Pooley works with the foundation’s many departments to coordinate campaigns, send press releases, write articles, produce invitations, work on grants and fill all the needs of the growing foundation’s different initiatives. However, this is not the work she had always imagined herself doing.
“I always thought I had wanted to work in advertising,” Pooley said. “During my senior year of college, I did an advertising internship and absolutely hated it. I didn’t like the work. I didn’t like how competitive it was. It was supposed to be this collaborative, creative environment and it wasn’t that at all.”
Luckily, Pooley realized early enough that advertising was the wrong place for her and has found her home with in-house communications at the Boettcher Foundation. While she loves her work, Pooley admits that being one of only two people in the communications department keeps her busy.
“Since I work with every department, it’s a lot of meetings,” Pooley said. “In one day, I might work on a project with the scholarship department, then write something for the grants department and maybe write up an invitation for an alumni event.” Since every department at the foundation has realized the importance of communication, Pooley does not have a hard time finding work around the office.
These tasks are typical of what a strategic communications director could expect on a daily basis. Individuals in the communications field are tasked with creating communications strategies to reach key audiences, managing and creating publications or marketing materials and (recently) implementing social media into their organization’s outreach in order to keep up with the demands of the age of technology.
Pooley’s education and experience prior to earning her job at Boettcher is somewhat above and beyond what is expected for most people with the same title. After holding seven different internships throughout college, she had no issue finding a job in the communications field.
“Having seven internships was ridiculous,” Pooley said. “They’re important but there is no need to do that many.”
Usually, hopefuls looking to enter into a similar job will need a bachelor’s degree in marketing, journalism, or a related field, about one year of experience, and skills in Microsoft Office, Adobe Systems and HTML coding, according to most job applications. Pooley, however, suggests some even more basic skills.
“Creativity is huge,” Pooley said. “But it’s also important to know how to use Excel properly and how to use a printer. Honestly, I wasted a lot of paper at my first internship because I didn’t know what I was doing with the printer.”
In the Denver area, a communications coordinator can expect to make around $67,000 per year on average, according to simplyhired.com. Beyond the pay, though, could be a more rewarding experience for those who really love to write.
“Once I get in the flow of writing, it doesn’t even feel like work,” Pooley said, on her favorite part of the job.
With the media industry constantly changing, it’s difficult to imagine a time when there would not be a need for every organization to have an expert to coordinate and streamline all public relations and correspondence with audiences—especially one who can find that flow of writing to inject the passion and spirit that is necessary for strong communication.