Jessica Malakian made Progress proud by placing first in a regional collegiate speakers competition, and hopes the experience she’s gained will lead to a successful career in marketing.
For young professionals trying to use everything they’ve learned so far from their formal education, their early work experience, and even their hobbies and special skills, there can be a special sense of urgency to stand out in a way that combines all of those aspects.
But it can be hard to paint a full picture when many have only drawn an outline of their potential thus far. For Jessica Malakian, a product marketing intern at Progress, that picture is already taking shape.
Jess (pictured, right) recently placed first in the Pi Sigma Epsilon South/Atlantic regional speakers competition and is now headed to the national virtual conference and competition, which will be held this spring. Pi Sigma Epsilon is a co-ed professional fraternity in the fields of sales, marketing and management.
“For the speakers competition, they're trying to prepare you for being able to get in front of a large group of people and be able to speak and let your personality be known,” she said. “I still get nervous when I speak in front of a lot of people, but I think it's good practice. They give you a prompt, and for us it was as CEOs of a company. It helps prepare us for a management role and we're able to be polished, in command, engaging and professional.”
The judges notice every little detail when it comes to looking for future business leaders. They assess the competitors on everything from voice, volume and tone, to eye contact, to how participants are dressed, and even virtual backgrounds, given this school year’s COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges that every business is facing.
In the first round, Jess had to submit a video of less than five minutes of herself as a CEO addressing shareholders about an important matter with the company. She achieved the highest score in the preliminary round and moved to the finals. In the final round, she had to address the same situation on a live Zoom meeting in front of other competitors, family, friends, judges and Pi Sigma Epsilon officials.
After winning the regional competition, Jess is looking forward to nationals. This is her second year competing, after previously participating in the ProAm, which requires students to present to a room of judges and try to sell a product. It was her first experience in an academic competition, and she knew she wanted to do it again this school year.
Jess is a senior in the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she is majoring in marketing strategy and is set to graduate this May. She’s also the vice president of administration for Pi Sigma Epsilon’s UNCW chapter. She grew up in New York, where her parents still live, and was a ballet dancer.
“Dancing was a huge passion of mine, and I loved the feeling of being on stage dancing in front of hundreds of people, but I was always afraid to get on stage and speak,” she said. “So now with this competition, and even with interning at Progress, I’ve been able to build my confidence and refine my skills.”
Skills that she hopes to parlay into a position as a marketing specialist and someday, hopefully, a director or vice president position, Jess said.
“I love to lead people, talk to people, inspire people in any way I can, and I feel that as a VP of marketing or director of marketing, you have that opportunity,” she said. “That’s why these competitions are great. You learn how to communicate with your team members.”
Jess said she’s enjoyed her internship at Progress, which started last May and has been extended to this spring. And she’s learned so much from the leaders in her department like James Goodfellow, a senior product marketing manager, and Tanya O’Connor, the director of product marketing at Progress.
“As part of her internship, Jess has been given multiple opportunities to present her work to a large group,” James said. “In every instance, I’m stunned by her ability to communicate her points clearly and succinctly. She goes to great lengths to prepare and present content that is easily consumable and imminently informative.”
With an already impressive resume at the young age of 23, Jess no doubt has a bright future (not to mention some really great role models here at Progress).
We can’t wait to see what she does next.
Check out some of her blog posts here, and we’ll keep you posted on how she does at nationals.
To learn more about Pi Sigma Epsilon, visit their national website.
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Dave Pierce strives to be a writer’s writer, an editor’s editor, and a marketer’s marketer. An award-winning journalist formerly of The Boston Globe, Dave combines his love of SEO, content management and social media with his passion for storytelling. At Progress, he manages, writes and optimizes content. Dave lives in New Hampshire with his wife and teenage daughters. You may find him at Northeastern University hockey games on the weekends from October to March. You can find him on LinkedIn every day.
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