Elizabeth Sparks

  • Hometown: Dallas, TX
  • Graduation year: May 2016
  • Company position and title: The Richards Group; Brand Manager
  • STCO Concentration: Integrated

Why TCU?

I wanted a small school with a big school-feel. TCU had the respected academics, faith-base, and all around camaraderie I was looking for. I love how the city of Fort Worth is fully integrated into the lives of those on campus and vice versa. TCU blessed me with the opportunities to pursue avenues I love, while simultaneously broadening my horizon of knowledge beyond my specialty. I was able to experience Greek life, serve on SGA, and launch on-campus campaigns that I was passionate about, all while furthering my education.

Why Strategic Communication?

From a young age, I was passionate about writing. However, I wanted to pursue a career that also had a strong emphasis on communication. Declaring Strategic Communication as a freshman was the best decision for me because I was able to build on the strengths I already had, while adding unique elements to my skillset such as design, research, and presentation skills, to make me a more well-rounded professional. I was able to keep my passion for English with a minor in English, and even had time in my schedule to add a Political Science minor as well.

What does your typical day consist of?

As a brand manager, it is my job to be an expert on each brand I work on. Furthermore, I am also in charge of making sure my team here at The Richards Group has everything they need to create excellent work for the client. From the brainstorm stage to final production, I am able to facilitate projects every step of the way. Being in brand management is a typical “jack of all trades, master of none” role. You must understand a large amount of information, and be able to harness communication in a way that makes sense to both the client and your
team. If the client has an issue, they come to you. If your team has an issue, they come to you. In short, I don’t have a typical day, which I love. Each day brings new challenges and evolving projects. I’m constantly moving, learning, and tackling problems.

Advice (or skill) for STCO students to focus on to be better prepared for the work world?

Experience, experience, experience. The more physical work you can bring to an interview, the better. After developing the Empower TCU and Not On My Campus campaigns and being Plans Book Director for the National Student Advertising Competition, I had a large portfolio to bring to the table. However, I’d also advise STCO students to really evaluate what role they typically take on in group projects. When I was applying for jobs, my biggest struggle was choosing my area of focus within an agency. The good thing about STCO is that you’re extremely well rounded when you graduate. However, that makes choosing a specialty a little difficult. Therefore, I had to evaluate what kind of worker I was, rather than simply what I had the skillset for. If you’re the ringleader on a group project, brand management is for you. If you’re the researcher and organizer, brand planning is for you, etc. Figure out what facet of the work you enjoy, and apply that to the jobs you search for.

To TCU, and many in the industry, The Richards Group is where most strive to work. How did you end up there?

Growing up in Dallas, I’ve always been familiar with and admired the reputation and work that comes with The Richards Group. The Richards Group came to TCU for on-campus interviews through the TCU Career Center, and I was able to get a slot in that interview process among many other students. After my on-campus interview, I followed up with each of my interviewers, thanking them for their time and asking for next steps. I then interviewed at the actual agency, and was given the opportunity of a Public Relations internship. I interned for 3 months after graduation, and was hired as a full-time employee in September in Brand Management.

Any tips for students applying for internships or jobs with the Richards Group?

I highly recommend The Richards Group intern program for anyone who wants to pursue a career in the agency sphere. Every Friday, a Grouper from a different discipline would give a presentation on their specialty. Therefore, we were exposed to every single part of what makes this agency successful. These presentations and the work in my internship are what made me so prepared to take on a full-time position. When I started my full-time position, I knew the intricacies of each discipline, which made my new role that much easier. Above
all, though, patience and persistence in the job search is key.