First of all, thank you SO much for all of your responses to my last interview with Amanda from Poshmark. I love how some of you asked her more questions and we had more insightful conversation even after the article published. It’s such an incredible honor that I get to chat with these ambitious career women who are doing incredibly challenging but amazing things in their field. I hope to bring you more in the future!
This week’s #GirlBoss on Career Girl Chat
The second Career Girl Chat features Jennie Yoon, who heads up US & Europe Business Development and Marketing at Casetify, a hip lifestyle brand with a focus on tech. Jennie and I actually went to high school together, and reconnected over a blogger conference last year in the Fall. Jennie’s current role at Casetify revolves around maximizing growth and revenue through new distribution channels and strategic partnerships. Jennie’s totally OG in influencer marketing, and has been doing this for years before influencers were publicly acknowledged as a marketing channel. Casetify’s past collaboration includes celebrity endorsements (Hilary Duff, Snoop Dogg), TV placement (Good Morning America, Today Show) and brand collaboration (American Apparel, Pepsi) to name a few. As one of Casetify’s main strategy drivers, Jennie’s role at Casetify has evolved from digital marketing and story-selling in the beginning, to brand building and strategic marketing to her current role. She describes this job at Casetify and herself as a match made in heaven and it’s clear that every fiber of her is dedicated to the success of Casetify. So, let’s get into the question and find out how this #GirlBoss went from interning at a Law Firm’s HR department to holding this much coveted position at Casetify!
Rapid fire questions – what was your college major, your first job, and how many resumes you sent out before you got your first & current job?
I majored in Psychology and Human Behavior, had a minor in business. After working for a few years I went back to school and got an MBA from Pepperdine University which was the pivot point that ultimately led me into marketing.
My first job was at a law firm, I had an internship in Human Resources. I took the job because I saw the the stability of this career path. With my Asian upbringing, stability and access to climbing the corporate latter was important. HR made sense because it’s relevant to every company across different industries. My boss at the time saw my potential interacting with people and reading people, so I focused on recruiting and built the department from scratch for the next 4 years. I found myself enjoying building something in an unknown environment, and mainly, enjoyed the people I got to work with.
Before I landed this job, I probably sent out 10-15 resumes before I got the position in the Law Firm in HR—but the time was probably different. My most recent position with Casetify came out of opportunities I got through traveling, networking, and it was such a match made in heaven so everything just came together within a short time (more on that later).
1) When you first graduated from college, did you know that you’d end up where you are today, why or why not?
Not at all. I always knew career was important, and I wanted to be part of something where I can make a difference. My mantra is that if you choose something, go all in—if it doesn’t work out, at least you won’t look back because you know you gave it all. People have told me to ‘find my passion’ but honestly, I don’t know what I was doing when I graduated. I just knew whatever I chose, I wanted to get my hands dirty and somewhere along the road, passion is something you figure out as you see more things and experience more things (goodness, I sound old).
TIP: Look for role-models, and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
If you’re in college, do take multiple internships to help find out what you like and don’t like. Study abroad if your school lets you. My realization came a bit later in my life, but I got a chance to study abroad during my MBA program to Hong Kong. Through a few networking events, I found my way to connect with Wes Ng, the Co-Founder and CEO of Casetify. I instantly connected over our common interest: Instagram. I positioned my talent in content building and my interest in Instagram as help, and offered to just help him out. And the rest was history!
2) Are you happy with where you are in your career? If you were to name three things you have to have in your career/employment, what are they?
I abso-fucking-lutely love what I do. This is a dream job that anyone could’ve wanted. But this position didn’t just land on my lap - I’ve earned it by working hard and pressing on through difficult times. Here is what I think are important for me to be happy in my career:
1) A good mentor. I always talk to people that are more experienced than me. This could be your boss, your boss’s boss, your colleague, or someone outside of your office. If it’s someone outside of your organization, ask for an introduction through your contacts.
2) A good team. In any company (startup or corporate), the work we do is very much a team effort. Everyone has a role to play and they’re the best as a team, in a way, it’s like a football team. You win as a team, never as an individual person.
3) Growth. Personal growth. As long as you’re learning and you have a boss that’s interested in your growth, it’s a good environment.
3) What’s your experience with mentorship like, who were your mentors and are you mentoring anyone now?
I have both work mentors and life mentors. Work mentors have always been my direct boss (maybe I got lucky with my bosses haha), and I have some in the industry that I’ve asked my friends to connect me with. In terms of people I mentor, I welcome with open arms to anyone who wants to chat.
4) If you look back in the past 5-10 years, what were the most important experiences that propelled you to where you are today? These could be lessons you learned from failures, being part of a special project, or pursuing (or not pursuing) a passion you really have.
Travel. Traveling exposes you to see things you’re not necessarily comfortable with. It’s very true in business that you won’t find growth in comfort zones. Traveling forces you to meet people that are not like you and don’t operate like you.
As an extension of the same point, do things that are foreign to you, like going to networking events. Talk to people you don’t know. You just don’t know what opportunities will come from a contact you made, a trip you took, or a conversation you had because you stepped out of your comfort zone.
5) Now the dreaded “what do you want to be in 5/10 years” question…how do you typically answer questions like this?
I’ve never loved this question because so much can change in just a year. I’ve never thought in million years I’d be where I am today. Professionally, I’m confident that Casetify will be a huge brand, and I hope to continue to grow with it. Running my own company doesn’t sound too shabby either. I also do hope that I can be a great role model and a mentor to people and pay forward the fortune I’ve been blessed with here at Casetify.
6) If you have experience in interviewing/recruiting new employees, what do you look for in candidates for positions that don’t require years of experience?
Their attitude. It’s one of those things that a good leader can sense right away. I prefer to hire people with willingness to learn, and someone who is genuinely excited about the brand, rather than a know-it-all. Many times, the technical skills are trainable, but the attitude isn’t. Secondly, I’d see if you’ve done your homework. In order for you to stand out, make sure you’re prepared, including doing some stalking work around the company and the people you’ll be meeting with. And lastly, don’t forget the thank you note after the interview. It’s a good way to be on top of the recruiter’s inbox, and to be reminded of who you are.
7) Lastly, what’s your go-to office outfit, and what is one piece of clothing you can’t live without?
My wardrobe is a lot of black, white and tan. Tech founders like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wear outfits that almost look like uniforms. I’ve read that they stick to a standardized outfit so they don’t have to spend time thinking about what to wear. My go-to office outfit is all black ensemble - black jeans with black top. One piece of clothing that I can’t live without would be my black jeans.
One thing I’ve learned is that you can never be overdressed for a work meeting and you don’t get a second shot at first impressions. Just because we’re in the start-up world doesn’t mean we can be sloppy. So develop a routine and minimize the time spent in putting things together.
All photography by Natalie Alvarado @ Stylenfuse