Jordyn Holliday, Internal Social Media Manager at Walgreens, discusses with Gabrielle Torres and Katy Colón from D S Simon Media about the support he received while working in higher education and his career trajectory. Jordyn shares his reaction when he found out he won a Ragan and PR Daily’s Rising Star Award in 2021. Jordyn also opens up about navigating imposter syndrome as a male and person of color.
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GABY: My name is Gabrielle Torres and I’m the Executive Marketing Manager at D S Simon Media.
KATY: And I’m Katy Colón, and I’m the Client Service and Marketing Associate here at Simon Media. Jordyn, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re so excited to chat with you.
JORDYN: Yeah. Thank you guys so much for having me. I’m excited to be here chatting with you guys today.
KATY: So, Jordyn, can you explain to us your career journey thus far? What have been some of your highlights and challenges you faced in these past four years?
JORDYN: So, shortly after graduating from DePaul, I started my first “big boy job”, which was at College of DuPage, which is about maybe 20 miles west of Chicago here, so western suburb, as the college’s first social media specialist and also a content writer, telling the story of the college’s campus students, faculty, staff members. And I was at College of DuPage for about 3 to 3 and a half years, and I made the move to corporate last summer at TIAA. Worked at TIAA for about a year where we oversaw executive communications, employee advocacy, as well as, corporate paid and organic social. Just a few weeks ago, I joined the Walgreens global communications team here in Illinois as the new Internal Social Media Manager, which is a completely new facet that the company is exploring for internal social media. And it’s specifically a social media app that is now available, but soon to be available to all Walgreens employees across the U.S.
GABY: Jordyn. before I continue, congrats on the new role.
JORDYN: Thank you.
GABY: I wanted to touch a little bit more on your background. And so, many young professionals have been contemplating and embracing going back to school. What are some of the ways that you were able to manage going and finishing grad school while interning and gaining relevant experience in the industry?
JORDYN: Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So, I was thankful enough to attend DePaul University’s PR and Advertising program, which is for one, super flexible, but also, it’s right in the heart of downtown Chicago, which is surrounded by tons of marketing, PR, and advertising agencies as well as large organizations. Of course, it was a challenge juggling school and work, but it was not as much of a challenge as you might expect it to be because I was right in like the sweet spot of where, in terms of location, of where it was easy for me to complete my degree while at the same time being able to gain like good hands-on experience while completing my degree.
GABY: As someone who’s also going to grad school, I will say the opportunities of being in a big city, they do make a difference.
KATY: What was your reaction when you found out that you were nominated for and subsequently won the Ragan Rising Star Award?
JORDYN: The feeling of pride. You know, I’ve always wanted to make like one of those rising stars or 30 under 30 lists. You know, I didn’t put everything in that basket, but it was on my short list of goals like when I first started out my career. Once I found out I won, I just felt so grateful for not only winning the award, but also the support that my colleagues at College of DuPage had for me at the time. I was nominated by my Vice President, who nominated me for the award just to have that belief in me. Those awards are not really cheap, especially for a college. marketing department that is working on a short budget, to be willing to nominate me and put money behind nominating me for such a prestigious award meant that they had a really strong belief in me. So, I appreciate that, but like once I found out that I won the award, there was kind of that moment of shock, whereas like did this really just happen, but also pride, and just affirmation that I’m going down the right path because honestly, like, sometimes you question that, right? I’ve definitely been a person who has questioned, you know, especially early on in my career, do I belong here? So, like that validation, like I said, I don’t seek it out per se, but it’s good to have the validation when it comes.
GABY: Definitely. I agree with that. Imposter syndrome is a real thing. You know, we’re young. So, it’s you’re trying to figure out, is this the right path? But don’t worry, that award is much deserved.
JORDYN: So, thank you. Yeah, imposter syndrome is a very, very, real thing that I’ve had to navigate.
GABY: So, you’ve just started a new position at Walgreens. How can communicators set themselves up for success when starting a new role?
JORDYN: Being a communicator, marketer, advertiser, PR, one of the most important things about our jobs is building relationships, whether you’re a new employee or whether you’ve been somewhere for ten-plus years, right? You know, I’ve been here at Walgreens for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve already spent pretty much the majority of that time just getting to know people, not only within my department, but also across the organization, throughout the corporate center, and even like some people within, you know, Walgreens stores in the local area and beyond, just to get to know people, start building those relationships to where I can become acclimated with the company culture and also be ready to hit the grind as an impactful team member on my team like once things pick up because, you know, that first month is sort of like a honeymoon period where you have the opportunity to engage, and meet new people, and get involved, and learn more about the company. There are going to be times where things ramp up. So, building those relationships early on so that when those times do come where you need people to lean on, those relationships are already intact and you’re able to proceed as needed once those times come.
KATY: Absolutely. I think that’s great advice especially when you’re going through that honeymoon period, just taking advantage of those opportunities and building those relationships. How do you navigate our field, and work dynamics, and expectations as a male and a person of color?
JORDYN: As communicators of color, imposter syndrome is definitely prevalent, you know, especially for, you know, you guys being women of color, but even for me being a Black man who’s navigating communications like I’ll be honest, there are so few of me. I’ve worked at a few locations so far like I’ve yet to have another Black man on any of the teams that I’ve been on. So, be in situations where, you know, you’re the only one who looks like you, it automatically puts you in that space of, you know, do I belong here? Every company I’ve worked for has been super supportive of me. That doesn’t change the fact that, you know, you look around and you don’t see yourself, the imposter syndrome is almost natural at that point. So, I think navigating that, I’ve constantly had to lean on mentors. Black men, Black women, even women who may not be of color, but they’ve also experienced that imposter syndrome. Leaning on mentors and people who have also had to navigate the experience of, you know, maybe not being able to see yourself represented has been, that has paid huge dividends for me. And as a Black professional, you know, I try not to take on too much weight on my shoulders, and I try not to allow, you know, my race to be a burden on me because at the end of the day, I am still a communicator. You know, it’s not my responsibility to carry the torch for all Black communicators just in my position. So, I have to be mindful of that while at the same time acknowledging the reality that I am a Black, you know, communicator and there aren’t many of us, and reminding myself that I belong here with a seat at the table.
GABY: Yeah, no, definitely. And your voice matters. And so, I think it’s really important that you mentioned it’s not your burden, you know, but it’s always good to see where can you end up so that you know okay, this is not a ceiling that I’m breaking, it’s one that I can expect to always amount to. Jordyn, we really want to thank you for your time today. Thank you for joining us, it’s been a real pleasure.
JORDYN: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. The conversation was great.