How 15 Professionals Got Their Start in Marketing

Everyone has a unique path that led them to their current career. Whether it be strategic or unplanned, there’s always a story to be told.

We asked 15 marketing professionals, “What is your story of how you got started in marketing?”

Their responses may surprise you.


A Start at a Startup

I got started in Marketing the day I got started at a startup. We had five people on the team, two co-founders, one salesperson, and one product/operations person, so (among so many other things) marketing was the void that needed to be filled. I got started creating welcome campaign emails, and trying to figure out how to advertise with Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. I REALLY had no idea what I was doing, but like all things in the startup world, you throw yourself in the fire and learn as you go along. After a little practice though, you just might start to get good at it!

Zack McCarty, Qwick


A Networking Connection

I was laid off from a job and took an outside sales position that I knew wasn’t stable. After that, I was cold-calling someone who was in a networking event–Mike Moss–to sell him advertising. He didn’t want to buy advertising and I didn’t stay at the company (eventually there were layoffs) but he became one of my first clients and introduced me to his networking meeting. One thing led to another and I got started in my business. I’d always worked on web design and was familiar with SEO but it was the networking meeting and Mike that truly allowed me to blossom and grow the business.

Gresham Harkless, Blue 16 Media


Discovering Career Prospects

I started out as an Art Education Major in college. When I realized art programs were being cut from most schools, I switched to marketing that combined my love for creative design and data-driven decision making. Marketing is an umbrella term that can really allow you to explore your skills and get to know different sides of any business.

Megan Chiamos, 365 Cannabis 


A Shift in Perspective

When I began my undergraduate studies, I declared as pre-business as my major. When I had to decide on a particular business specialization in my junior year, I chose international business instead of marketing. Upon graduating, I quickly realized the “international” opportunities were limited and that I’d have to start in marketing, economics, or another business area. My first job post-undergrad was for a marketing agency and the rest is history. I’ve never looked back!

Rennie Leon, Director of Marketing and Communications


Finding Purpose

When you are doing what truly gives you purpose and “fire in your belly,” the money and joy come. I help businesses Intentionalyze, help people find their career purpose, and create marketing content that connects. Watch your body language as it will guide you— just as painting pottery with Mom did for me as a youngster. And if marketing is your purpose, believe, and learn constantly. You got this!

Candi Luciano, Y Scouts


One Event Turned Into a Career

It all started when I planned a college readiness event during high school. I used some creative problem solving and applied some marketing tactics and was excited to be awarded a financial scholarship because of my efforts. From that planning process, it was apparent to me that I wanted to give communications and marketing a try in college and beyond. Fast forward 12 years and I have been able to work with a variety of nonprofits and small businesses to build out their marketing strategies on a tight budget.

Audrey Hutnick, Marketing Manager


For the Love of Sociology

I attended W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU and was torn between supply chain management and marketing. Little did I know I would incorporate both into my day to day career with Halo Branded Solutions. My love of sociology really initiated my journey into marketing. Studying people groups and their behavior allows me to connect with an audience in the best way possible. Today, I get the opportunity to use a combination of language, images, and products to connect with humanity. It’s the best job in the world.

Candace Cotton, Halo Branded Solutions


It All Started with an Internship

I stumbled into a marketing internship after college at an incredible social business in Austin that seeks to equip and inspire others for life-changing adventure through the provision of seamlessly designed camp gear. I worked my way up to Marketing Manager within the first year and was hooked by the blend of analytical and creative thinking that marketing allows.

Grace Mueller, Research Associate


One Opportunity Led to Another

I didn’t hear about SEO until I started a virtual content writing internship after graduation with an organization that promotes meaningful travel opportunities. As a Business Tourism major, I was just excited to write about the worlds’ most beautiful destinations and get my name published. However, this volunteer position also introduced me to SEO basics ranging from keyword research to writing quality content. Fast forward to today, I’m currently the Director of SEO Content at an SEO company.

Raquel Thoesen, Markitors


Honestly, It Was a Personality Test

Honestly, I took an online personality test and it told me I’d be great at marketing. I did some research on the different types of marketing, pay, opportunities, etc., and decided I really liked it. So I declared (well technically switched) my major and decided to go for it. My first marketing class was – intro to marketing 101. I realized, yup, this is exactly where I need to be. Years down the line and I’m still in marketing doing what I’ve loved since day one.

Janelle Amos, Revenue Marketing Manager


A Zig Zag of Cities and Positions

My first successful marketing pitch was to my parents when I moved from Phoenix to Boston to start a career in marketing after college and complete a master’s degree in PR at BU (while filling cash machines on the weekend). I started in internal communication and public relations for a large bank with the front-line of any business’ success–its employees. Then I shifted to advertising for that bank, moved to Phoenix where I built a brand identity for a new regional bank. I worked on the agency side in tourism and entertainment (AZ Lottery), on the client-side in entertainment, health insurance, and pharmaceutical, and led an editorial team for a content marketing firm. When I completed my Ph.D. at ASU and started my dream job, teaching advertising and public relations at NAU.

Janice Sweeter, NAU School of Communication


A Chance Encounter

My marketing journey started by chance. My background is in Neuropsychology but I left the workforce to raise a family. After 10 years and 3 kids, I missed having a life outside of being Mom. I started my company by chance, doing random virtual assistant work. The company focus quickly changed, and I added the services clients requested. Ten years later, I own an agency that specializes in events.

Lisa Schulteis, ElectraLime Marketing


A Passion for Storytelling

I found out that (being the passionate person I am) when I get excited about something, not only does it foster my creativity, but it also helps influence others because they trust my opinion. As a result of starting my first blog in 2017 (travel blog, The Platinum Passport) and then soon after participating in a Disney Professional Internship (incorporate, 2018), I learned that marketing was the field for me. I love helping people make informed decisions through happiness and story-telling.

Meghan Chayka, Assistant Brand Development Buyer


A High School Career Program

My interest in marketing sparked when I was in high school. We had a program called DECA which I was fortunate enough to participate in the program. From there, my interest grew and grew as I started to realize EVERYTHING deals with marketing in one way or another. Fast forward after grad school, I got my foot into HR and Talent Acquisition where I was able to apply all my marketing insight to market the company, roles, new policy changes, and more. It is a whole different approach to HR and TA but it works!

Andrew Aziz, HRBP


HR Paved the Way

I got lucky to start my career in HR, transitioned into Community Management and Sales, which led me to Marketing. So often HR and Marketing both have their backs to portions of the organization with HR’s focus being solely on employees and Marketing with a tunnel vision to customers. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to marry the two roles in a way that I think is really authentic in building a strong brand that resonates internally and externally.

Sydney Stern Miller, Growth Marketing Lead

Join our email list to receive the latest events, news, and updates from AMA Phoenix.