I’m an English Major Who Works in Marketing at Urban Outfitters
Nathalie Ramirez oversees brand partnerships and music marketing for Urban Outfitters. This means that she’s the point of contact for any external brands that the company works with, including adidas, Fujifilm, and Calvin Klein.
And, Ramirez was an English major. I sat down with her to learn how she crafted her career path around the skills and passions she developed in college.
Hi Nathalie! What Does Your Day-to-Day Role Look Like?
My team puts campaigns together by developing creative imagery and figuring out which channels are the best ones to reach our audience on. This means thinking through social media, our app and website, email, in-store experience, and paid media. I secure the funds for the project and manage it all the way through.
For the music marketing, I work on vinyl releases—we’re the largest retailer of vinyl music—and help curate the music we play in our stores and use online. That’s Spotify playlists, Apple Music playlists, SoundCloud premieres, that sort of thing. We also do live events and meet and greets with artists.
What Does it Take to Be Good at a Job Like Yours?
One piece is having a good memory and being able to multitask. I’m juggling so many different projects, and they’re all at different stages. Being able to remember what someone may have said in a meeting and connect that with something that someone else said in another meeting can be tough.
You have to also be someone who is really clued-in to pop culture. That means knowing what the trends are and what’s important to young people today. It’s knowing what guys who like certain kinds of memes like to wear, or knowing what kinds of girls are obsessed with Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin. It’s crazy to think about that as a job skill, but for a place like Urban, it definitely is.
And, you have to know when people are about to blow up. For example, we had photographer Tyler Mitchell shoot a campaign with Joey Bada$$ a while back, and he just shot the Vogue cover with Beyoncé. We want to work with talent before they’re massive.
Can You Tell Me About Your Career Path Up to This Point?
When I graduated college, I went to a program at Columbia Journalism School in NY that helps you get a job in book and magazine publishing. I didn’t know anything about either of those things when I was an undergrad, so I feel lucky that I ended up there.
I started out in book publishing, in the marketing department, but then I realized I didn’t want to work in book publishing. Through various connections, I got a creative strategy job at Paper magazine. Paper has an internal creative agency that does work for different brands, sometimes with the Paper name involved, sometimes without. I helped those brands develop strategies for their content, influencers, events, etc.
Then a recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn about the job at Urban, and here I am. People at Columbia would say how much of a factor luck plays in life. I hated that at the time, but it’s true. Obviously, hard work is important, but sometimes you just have to be in the right place, at the right time. I got lucky and fell into marketing, and navigated my way through it.
Why Did You Decide to Be an English Major?
I always knew I was going to be an English major. Growing up, I wanted to be a writer. I love analyzing people, reading, and writing.
I never thought about what I was going to do with it, though. It wasn’t a career choice. I got kind of pressured into a minor in economics, just to be practical.
Did You Feel Like You Had Useful Business Skills When You Graduated From College?
No. I’d had some internships, and a vague sense of what I might do, but I didn’t have a good sense of what careers were available to me.
I didn’t realize that some of my skills, like being a quick learner, writing convincing emails, and having emotional intelligence, would be useful in a business context.
Can You Tell Me More About Those Skills and How They’re Useful?
There’s huge value in being able to read, analyze, understand, and communicate with people. I can frame things in a way that I know will resonate with my audience. When I’m writing, I’m concise and straightforward. That doesn’t come easily for everyone.
In entry-level marketing jobs, you’re often going to serve as a note-taker in meetings. To be good at that, you have to take in a lot of information, synthesize it, and present it back in a cohesive way so people know what to do with it. I was good at that, which is why it was easy for me to navigate across various organizations early in my career.
How Can People Without Much Job Experience Stand Out in an Interview?
Show that you’ve done your research and have put thought into what the company is currently doing and how it could do it better. That’s going to be a major differentiator anywhere you go.
At Urban, we do a lot of marketing through Instagram. If I’m interviewing someone, I ask them for something they like about our Instagram strategy, and something they would change. If they can name something specific they saw us post on Instagram, that’s a great start.
Do You Do Anything Outside of Work to Keep Your Passion for Reading and Writing Alive?
I read all the time. I probably read a book every week, and I’m in various book clubs. I wish I did more writing in my spare time. I’ve always had this drive to write, and that never goes away.
I do a lot of mentoring as well, and help people with their side projects. I have a friend who was launching a clothing business with a give-back component. I helped her with a launch strategy, PR positioning, and social media.
What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?
First, don’t worry so much!
Second, be more open to things that aren’t exactly what you had in mind. I was very focused on book publishing being the thing I should pursue, but there were a lot of opportunities available to me that I never considered. I think a lot of English majors assume that publishing is the default career path. It’s like, well, I don’t want to be a lawyer, so I guess I’ll go into publishing.
The only real way to find out what other opportunities you have—and what will be the best fit for you—is to talk to as many people as you can.
People are really accessible in this day and age. Reach out to people you follow on Twitter and see if you can set up a phone call. Don’t just ask them for a job—ask them questions about their path and what they’re excited about, and see what sparks. You’ll learn about new companies and then you can go see what they’re hiring for.
You have to put yourself out there a little bit. This is especially true if you’re interested in working with creative people, because they’re going to want to know how you express yourself.
You can’t be embarrassed about your passions and hobbies. If you’re a DJ, put your mixes on SoundCloud. You don’t have to promote them, but you need to be able to point to them when you’re talking to someone about your passion for music. That will show them that your interest is authentic, that you’re serious about it.
Are There Any English Teachers to Whom You’d Like to Send Gratitude?
Mrs. Newcott, for hosting art journal workshops that I was obsessed with in 10th grade. I still use a lot of the crafting and writing techniques 15 years later! And also Professor Warner, for letting me read War and Peace and write about it for my senior thesis.
This article was originally published on after words, a career resource for English majors. It has been republished here with permission.