Meet Jessica Arends, Marketing Assistant, and read about her career journey at AMP.
In May of 2020, I graduated from Northern Illinois University with my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting, ready to pursue a path that allowed me to connect with people within my community. I have always been the type of person who strives for community connection. This is the main reason why I gravitated towards the arts at a young age and pursed Acting in my higher education. The Performing Arts is all about building community and connecting by sharing human experiences, and upon graduating, I was eager to start building my career. Unfortunately, this was during the height of a global pandemic, and my original plans had to adapt to align with the social climate at the time. So there I was, similar to every other 20-something-year-old at the time, updating my profiles on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor, searching through job after job looking for something that would call to me and fit my unique set of skills and ambitions.
I remember when my recruiter from American Marketing & Publishing first reached out. I was greeted in my inbox with a message inviting me to apply for the role as a Digital Inside Sales representative in the DeKalb, IL office. As I scrolled through the message, a particular line caught my eye. “We help thousands of businesses manage their print advertising in our HomePages Community Directories…” In that moment, I felt a sense of familiarity wash over me, and I was instantly brought back to memories of my hometown. I grew up in Paxton, IL, one of the many communities that is still reliant on the HomePages
The first week of training was packed with lots of information regarding all of the exciting features of AMP’s marketing solutions, the growth opportunities available, and all of the real results and testimonials from customers who were succeeding with AMP in their corner. I remember heading back home at the end of each long day inspired, and thinking to myself, “I need to be a part of this.” However, I also learned that week that my natural inclination does not lend itself to sales, and after pushing myself and stepping out of my comfort zone, I knew that this role was not for me. But at that point, I had already been so deeply inspired by the work AMP was providing, and the positive team and abundant resources that had been present since my first day. I was not sure what my next move was going to be, but I knew that I did not want the opportunity of being a part of this company to slip away.
At the end of my first week, I candidly went to my manager at the time, Raegan Fingerman, and let her know that I wasn’t able to move forward as a sales representative, but asked that if there were any other openings in the future to please consider me. I loved the company culture and mission statement, and wanted the chance to make a difference for small business owners. Luck was on my side that day, because across the hall the Director of AMP Support Services, Jennifer Bock, was looking to fill a spot on the Accounting team. After sitting down to talk with Jen, and her encouraging me to take a chance on joining Accounting, even though I was a little hesitant, I took on the challenge and accepted the role as an Accounting Assistant, beginning my next chapter at American Marketing & Publishing.
As time passed during my role as an Accounting Assistant I started to pick up a lot of new skills that I never would have guessed I had the ability to do. I learned all the ins and outs of working with a customer account, and running various reports and analytics. I navigated my way through the very complex and daunting program known as Microsoft Dynamics GP, and started to cross a lot of goals off of my list, one of them being Employee of the Month. In October of 2021, after being nominated twice previously, I won Employee of the Month! It was such an honor, and very surprising. It felt great to be recognized for the hard work that I was putting in, and made me eager to continue setting more goals for myself.
After a year of working closely with our sales representatives, and our customers as an Accounting Assistant, I was promoted to an Accounts Receivable Specialist. This role came with more responsibilities, and I was able to learn more Accounting processes and gained a deeper understanding of the department as a whole. This new role allowed me to create more structure within the Accounting department by rewriting our procedures and consolidating our training materials. I was able to start to unify our work in a comprehensive way and make a cohesive approach to our tasks that made sense for the team.
As I wrapped up my first year in Accounting, looking back at all of the progress I had made since that very first week, I learned the exciting news that I had been nominated by my peers and won Accounting & Admin’s Employee of the Year for 2021. This came as a huge shock to me, and I remember feeling so grateful that all of the people on my incredible team, whom I had relied on and learned from over the year, thought that I was deserving of this honor. It was the best way to end out my first year at AMP, and to motivate me to continue growing within the company.
I started off 2022 with new goals, and even more ambition. I spoke with my manager about my future at AMP and let her know that I wanted to start doing work that aligned more with my creative passions, while still helping small businesses and communities. As much as I had loved my time in Accounting and had cherished all that I had learned, I had a desire to keep growing, and I knew that it was time for me to embark on my next chapter at AMP. In May of 2022, a position opened on the Marketing team that I felt encapsulated what I was looking for, and I joined the team as the Marketing Assistant in June.
Presently, in my work as a Marketing Assistant, I feel that I have finally found the role that allows me to express myself creatively while also aligning with my passion of creating community and connecting with people and stories. Whether that is through writing case studies and articles for our corporate blog, gathering product examples and real results with customer testimonials to help our sales representatives, or working internally on initiatives to keep our company environment fun and encouraging, each day is more and more fulfilling as I get to do what I love with a company that supports my growth.
On Jessica’s career at AMP, Marketing Manager Allee Marshall, said:
“Jessica has been an incredible addition to the Marketing team! She’s full of great ideas, is passionate about her work, and is always eager to learn new skills. In her six months with Marketing, she’s taken ownership of many projects and has found unique ways to improve the work we do. If you ask anyone at AMP, they’ll tell you that Jessica is a fun person to work with! She’s passionate about AMP and making her coworkers’ days brighter, and this shows through her work with the Safety & Events Committee (SEC) and her commitment to taking on new tasks to help out our sales and office teams. I’m looking forward to seeing how Jessica continues to grow in her role as Marketing Assistant and in her overall career with AMP!”