Marketing Coordinator, Country Music Association, Nashville, TN
- First Colonial High School, Advanced Technology Center, Virginia Beach City Public Schools
- CTE studies: Advanced Marketing; Entrepreneurship Education; Advanced Entrepreneurship Education
- Additional studies: Bachelor of Arts in Music Business, Belmont University, Nashville; National Retail Federation Customer Service and Sales Certification; National Retail Federation Advanced Customer Service and Sales Certification
Combining a love for music and marketing
by Jessica Sabbath
Alina Thompson took her first high school marketing class on a whim. “It sounded like a lot of fun,” Alina says. “That course is really where I discovered a passion for marketing.”
In the Marketing and Entrepreneurship courses, students learn a variety of marketing skills, including product presentation, copywriting, visual displays, and customer service—all skills Alina uses today as marketing coordinator for the Country Music Association (CMA) in Nashville, Tennessee.
In her role, Alina helps coordinate promotions associated with CMA’s annual events, including the CMA Awards, CMA Country Christmas, and the CMA Music Festival. “It’s a big undertaking,” Alina says of the music festival, which attracts 88,000 people a day. “Our events are on such a large scale. We work with so many different artists and labels. We have to develop and follow through on promotions agreements with all our partners. It can be kind of chaotic, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Alina has always loved music, playing violin and guitar growing up. During high school, her marketing teacher encouraged students to research specific career paths. “It was then that I realized I loved marketing, and I’d always had a passion for music since I was very little. I decided I wanted to do both those things together.”
Alina held several internships throughout college, including at Virginia Beach radio stations, Broken Bow Records, and CMT, formerly Country Music Television.
She plans on continuing her career in marketing in Nashville. “I really love working with all the country music artists and the labels,” says Alina. “I have something fun and different to work on every day.”
Justina Sage Sumpter
Marketing and Development Manager, United Way of Montgomery, Radford & Floyd, Christiansburg
- Eastern Montgomery High School, Montgomery County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Marketing; Fashion Marketing; Family and Consumer Sciences; Housing and Home Furnishings; Family and Home Relations
- Additional studies: Bachelor of Science in Media Studies, Radford University
by Jessica Sabbath
When she took Marketing in high school, Justina Sage Sumpter realized one could find joy in a career.
Justina grew up watching her single mother struggle to make ends meet.
“My mom worked incredibly hard, but she didn’t have a high school diploma,” says Justina.
In her Marketing class, she realized she had found a career path that she could enjoy and allowed her to be creative. “It’s wonderful when you find something you care about, to know you’re doing something you love,” says Justina.
Now Justina is marketing and development manager for the United Way of Montgomery, Radford, and Floyd, an organization that raises money for 26 local charities.
At a small nonprofit organization, Justina wears many hats, and each day is different. She writes press releases, coordinates interviews with local media, works with businesses and their employees on giving to the United Way through payroll deductions, and helps with local fundraising events.
Justina interned with the United Way during college and started an advertising job at The Roanoke Times after graduating from Radford.
When her current position became available, United Way called to see if she was interested in the job. “At the time, I wasn’t looking, but it was really appealing to me,” says Justina.
Justina enjoys being able to work for a nonprofit while utilizing her degree.“I wanted to know that every day I was helping people,” Justina says of her job. “And with my current career, I get to be creative, and I get to use those ideas and promote something I know will help people directly.”
Visual merchandiser, H&M, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Massaponax High School, Spotsylvania County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Fashion Marketing
- Additional studies: Bachelor’s degrees in Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising, Virginia Commonwealth University
Pursuing a passion for fashion
by Veronica Garabelli
Chanté Pagán credits her high school Fashion Marketing class with piquing her interest in the fashion industry. “It definitely set a little fire in my brain,” Chanté says about the course at Massaponax High School taught by Ellen Saunders. “She made the class really interesting, and I knew I could definitely do that every day for the rest of my life.” Now a visual merchandiser at H&M in Hawaii, her responsibilities include setting up the store’s windows and displays according to the latest trends.
It was in the Fashion Marketing class that Chanté learned what types of jobs the industry offered and basic fashion terminology, such as a circle skirt and empire waist. Chanté also remembers doing high school projects that reflect processes currently used in the fashion industry, such as putting together an “inspiration board” where she created a board with items that inspired her to start the design process.
Chanté continued to carve out her career path at Virginia Commonwealth University. She graduated with two degrees: one in fashion design and another in fashion merchandising. Although she originally wanted to be a fashion designer, a college internship for clothier Cynthia Steffe in New York City convinced her to pursue merchandising. “Designers make clothes, but they don’t sell them. [When] you sell the clothes, you present them in a way that the customers want them, so that really grabbed me,” Chanté says about deciding to pursue the second degree in fashion merchandising.
After her internship, Chanté started working as a sales adviser at H&M in Richmond. She expressed interest in becoming a visual merchandiser and started to do some visual work at the store. By the time she graduated from VCU in 2013, H&M offered her a job as a visual merchandiser. In that role, she’s helped open H&M stores in New York City’s Times Square, Miami, and Hawaii, where she’s currently located. In the future, Chanté would like to become a visual merchandiser manager. “My absolute long-term goal is to open my own children’s boutique, but I feel like you need to learn the ropes of retail before you can try and open up your own store,” she says. Judging from her experience so far, it seems like Chanté is well on her way.
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