Watch the recording, or read the interview transcript below.
SLH: Can you tell us a little bit about Forge and the work that they do outside of the internship program and more about what has led you here today?
MLD: Forge is a non-profit that was started at UVA in 2012. It was originally called HackCville, and we just rebranded in the last year or so to Forge. We run a summer internship program, which is called Launch. Launch offers have a digital marketing track, a data science track, UX design, and engineering. So there’s a bunch of different tracks where students can be trained and then match with an internship for the summer, and it’s a really awesome program.
But outside of that, we also have things called skills courses, which are semester-long courses in very similar things: UX design, marketing, data science—that kind of thing. They’re taught by students, and Forge is mostly run by students. We also have a few full-time staff, which has been a really fun addition in the last few years. We have the Impact Program, where we partner with other non-profits or companies in the Charlottesville area and help them out with their mission-driven projects. So, it’s been really fun to get involved with Forge!
Can you tell us a little bit about Silverchair—how you got here, the industry you work in, and your history?
SLH: Silverchair is a Charlottesville-based company that works with scholarly and professional publishers to host their content. So we have a publishing platform, and what that means is we design the websites and interactive parts of the sites that host journal content, book content, conference proceedings—plus all the kind of stuff makes it discoverable and interactive.
We’ve been working with Forge for four or five years with various interns and it’s been a really great experience. Working on event planning, content creation, and things like that. It’s been really wonderful and we’re so excited that you’re here with us this summer!>
MLD: I am, too! I love it. I’ve had literally the best time, everybody’s so great.
So, as Marketing Director at Silverchair - what are your main priorities or everyday tasks and overarching goals?
SLH: A lot of it boils down to communication. Communicating what we do to our industry and to prospects, communicating some of the things that are happening internally to our clients. Also communicating about Silverchair as a workplace to possible candidates. So, a lot of it centers around that. There are things like newsletters, there are events, there are our release notes for when we release new features and functionality to the platform. There’s also involvement in our industry and helping to shape some of the communications that happen within the scholarly publishing industry. It’s very multifaceted.
What would you say your marketing directorship looks like?
MLD: I actually think it’s very similar for me. Communication is really the main aspect of, I feel like, marketing as a whole. But at Forge, we have a bunch of different teams. We have our community team, our marketing team, our courses team, our impact team; so there’s a lot of different areas that the marketing team is responsible for communicating about. On our team, Eliza (the other Marketing Director) and I are responsible for our managers and coordinators that work under us. So, it’s been really interesting to learn on the job how to lead people and really work with people. One of the big things is just being able to delegate and lead our team. That has been really fun.
Also, communication, like you said. Just making sure that everyone understands what Forge’s mission is and what we’re trying to accomplish and who we are. Part of our rebrand was because ‘HackCville’ didn’t do a great job of making it clear what we were doing—it kind of limited us to the coding world, and that’s not all we do. So, with the rebrand, it’s become even more important that we’re able to communicate who we are and what our mission is.
Also, Forge is expanding to other schools, which is so exciting. So, another element of my job is making sure we’re being very intentional in how we’re communicating and reaching out to these other schools. It’s really been an awesome experience for me.
SLH: In terms of marketing as a profession, what are some of your favorite things to work on?
MLD: I think on a lower level, I love more of the graphic design stuff, I love looking at the data—doing a little bit of analytics. I think being able to use marketing to mesh those things together and being able to do both creative things and the analytics side of things is something I really love.
But also, on a higher level, just being able to communicate with the public about an organization that I love and think has so much to offer other people. I think it’s really fulfilling to be able to say, “Hey, this is who I’m working for and this is why you should be a part of this organization.” I think that brings me a lot of happiness to see. Communicating that out and then having people be like, “Oh, I should join this!” and then having the time of their lives.
How about you? What do you think that means for you?
SLH: I mean you partially stole my answer. . . . I definitely love the variety. I love that there are so many different parts of it. There’s event planning, there’s writing, there’s a little bit of design, there’s a little bit of analytics—there are all these different elements to it. I really enjoy the puzzle of taking complicated technical things and translating that and breaking them down into their parts to make them accessible to people. Then, I think the creative aspect, for sure, I love having an outlet for getting to do a little design. I design our website through WordPress and get to work on other artifacts for marketing, as well as working with our freelance designers. It’s very fulfilling—I love it.