Morgan Payne, Class of May 2021
- College of Media
I started college majoring in communications, and I loved the fundamentals of communication theory and working with people. I was having fun, but I wanted to take it up a notch. Then, I met with my mentor, and I explored where I could go using this communications background. She suggested marketing or advertising, so I decided to pursue Advertising, and made it my goal to declare that as my major. When I met with my mentor, she pointed out that I had also completed almost all the requirements for a Communications minor, and I actually really loved that combo of Advertising and Communications.
As a student, I was heavily involved in the black organizations at Illinois. I was a part of the CBSU, the Central Black Student Union, and I was also on EWEZO, which was a residential club for people who resided in FAR or PAR, many of whom were minorities. I was programming chair for EWEZO, and it’s what actually led me into advertising. I loved programming the events, and wondered, how can I make a career out of this?
I was also programming chair for the CBSU, which was also so much fun. We put on large events, which a plethora of different types of people attended – from graduate students to freshmen. It was fun to be programming these events that helped unite the black community on campus, and it was where I made a lot of friends.
One person that really helped me out during my time at Illinois was Pamela Greer, who was my counselor and mentor. College can be stressful as you’re juggling all these decisions and responsibilities and figuring out where you are. She helped me to find my values in a way, and how to apply them in my life. She truly helped me find my path at Illinois.
I graduated my senior year and interned for a media agency called Essence Global. After interning there they offered me a job, which I was excited about. At the time I was set on this job because I interned there and knew the people, but another mentor of mine forwarded me a job opening at JLL, encouraging me to apply there too. I began interviewing with JLL and accepted their offer for a Project and Development Services Analyst role.
It was a difficult decision at first, because I had already interned with Essence Global in a media planning role that was directly aligned with what I wanted to do. On the other hand, JLL had marketing, events, consulting, project management, and more. I thought, instead of committing myself to solely being a media planner, I can figure out exactly who I want to be within this company. I just didn’t want to limit myself. In this role, no day is the same, and I love that I’m never bored. For me, being young and not knowing exactly what I want to do, this is perfect.
I’m looking forward to the future, when I’ll be a little more established. While I love the variety of my job, I want to figure out what I’m truly passionate about. I’m trying to learn how to just slow down, digest, and learn every day. In five years, I honestly do hope to be involved in advertising. I think I’ve found that that’s my passion. I want to grow in marketing and advertising, and use my communications knowledge and experience at JLL to be able to work on managing projects for large-scale accounts.
My advice for students: don’t give up. College can be overwhelming, with all the responsibilities and people telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. Sometimes you feel like, “okay, I have this degree, I’m supposed to know exactly what I want to do…” But you really don’t need to know right away. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t try to rush the process. I work alongside people much older than me, and it can be intimidating to see people so established in their careers, but you have to remember that they worked to get to that spot, and it took time. You will get everything you deserve in time.
(Last updated: February 23, 2022)