Alumni spotlight: Sarah Brandt ’14

by Jiaman Peng

July 2, 2019

Advertising alumna advises students to pay attention to their shifting interests.

Sarah Brandt '14
Sarah Brandt '14

Sarah Brandt ’14 sees every work experience as an opportunity to discover her interests. The advertising alumna enjoyed working with ad campaigns as a digital strategy intern at mcgarrybowen and is now a senior ad operations specialist at Hulu.

Working in account management fresh out of Newhouse gave her a love for client services, a passion and skillset now embodied in her work at Hulu.

“Every experience is so important and it's going to offer you something different,” Brandt says.

We chatted with Brandt about how leaning into her passions has shaped her career.

What’s the most important thing to consider in building a career path?

It's so important to always identify the things in your job not only that you like, but also that you don't like… I think a big question every young Newhouse student should ask themselves is, what avenue [of work] are they passionate about? I was working in TV and print [and] I really wanted to work with digital media because there’s [a] growing space for digital. It felt right with the shift in the industry but also the shift in my interests.

How did you decide what jobs you wanted to apply for when you first started?

I had a mentor at Newhouse who definitely contributed to some of my decision-making; however, your own research is so important. Make sure that you understand the job descriptions and [that] you're talking with people that work at those companies. It's great to research your LinkedIn [connections] for those who have some type of relationship to that company, or a secondary connection, and reaching out to them. Cold calling is hard, but it can pay off if that person is willing to step out of their day-to-day and speak with you.

There are some great people out there that are rooting for you. I think [Newhouse alumni] really get the ambition that everyone has going to the school, so they're always willing to lend a helping hand.

What’s the best way to shift roles within the company you work for?

You definitely have to pitch yourself. That's kind of the most exciting part of my past two years, the moment when I really got the opportunity to sit down and say, “Hey, these are all the great things that I've done, this is why I'm right for this role.” It's a really empowering moment, a great way to look back and see everything you've accomplished. It's always great to have bullet points about yourself, your accomplishments in numbers and data.

How did you discover the direction you wanted your career to take? 

I started in a big agency and quickly learned that I didn't want to be somewhere that large, but I also knew that I wanted to be working with multiple clients, staying in client services. That brought me to a smaller publisher in digital. These are all like little breadcrumbs that I picked up along the way.

I found that future planning was better informed by being hyper-vigilant to what I was learning and acquiring… and having an idea of where [I wanted] to be in the next year or two. You also have to lean on your peers and mentors for advice.

What’s on your recommended reading list?

“Imagine It Forward” by Beth Comstock. It's a great book about the industry.

Jiaman Peng is a junior advertising student at the Newhouse School.