Alumni Connection Panelist: Lucas Piken

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Lucas Piken is a 2012 alumnus in Communication and International Studies. Currently, he stands as a Multicultural Communications Supervisor at Mediavest Worldwide in New York, NY. Working exclusively on the Walmart account, he specializes in multicultural US audience-marketing, and is responsible for creating and implementing strategic media partnerships with Facebook, YouTube, Univision and others.

Q: Tell us a bit about the path you took to get where you are.

Lucas Piken: I started out at Carat Advertising Agency, on their Diageo liquor account. After 13 months on the team, our multicultural planner (my direct report) moved off the account. I pushed for taking his role, which our team allowed with a promotion. After over 1 year in that role, I was able to leverage my multicultural planning experience to move up to the Supervisor level at Mediavest Agency to work on their Walmart account, which I still currently work on.

Q: When did you know what field you wanted to go into? What experiences led you there?

LP: I always knew marketing, and specifically advertising, was for me during my tenure at Michigan. I learned media was the field for me sometime during my senior year of college. After having a few marketing-related internships and speaking with UM alums who worked in creative, media and PR shops, I saw that this area was best suited to my skill set and for entry-level opportunities.

Q: What UM classes or extracurricular activities did you find particularly helpful in your job field?

LP: All of the Comm’s definitely help, but I distinctly remember 101 being my first “A-ha!” moment where I knew this was the right industry for me. Although I did participate in the Solar Car team doing corporate sponsorship procurement and worked with the FBLA, my most helpful extracurricular experience was my study abroad semester where I learned of my interest in global business and culture.

Q: Describe a day-in-the-life at work.

LP: No day at work is the same for me because of the ever-evolving nature of advertising. However, there are often a lot of meetings and regroups that take place (especially now that I am a strategist by title), with plan forecasting and brainstorming. I often find myself desperate to get back to my desk and do tangible “work” that I have to knock off, only because my calendar is so frequently packed with places to be and people to meet.

Q: What is one of the best, as well as one of the most challenging, aspects of your work?

LP: The best part of my work is definitely the brainstorming. When you have the opportunity to sit in a room and think of new, progressive ideas that chart out a campaign’s strategy, it allows for creative thinking and all parties to put away phones, laptops and outside noise to just work on what we enjoy doing best. The most challenging aspect of my work by far can be working with so many different personalities. Media, and strategy in particular, often means there are a lot of “cooks in the kitchen.” This field attracts a lot of bright, smart, influential, but also strong-willed people. As such, it is not uncommon for meetings, regroups and brainstorms to go off on tangents, or for two people to butt heads. However, this is a healthy byproduct of our work, and when people are professionals and respectful, struggling is worth it in the end.

Q: What is one of the most memorable moments you have had at work.

LP: There have been many! I once had the opportunity to attend a Comic Con concert party aboard the USS Midway battleship in San Diego, per a sponsorship we did with Captain Morgan.

Q: Provide a piece of advice for students working towards internships and full-time opportunities in the communications field.

LP: Ask as many questions as you can about what the people you work with do and do not like about their respective field. You can only learn so much from internships; and while it may be intimidating, most people you intern for will respect you for being curious. No one has their life figured out when they turn 21, but raising your hand is the first step towards getting there.

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