Mary Beth Clarke '22 Maximized Her Time at JWU

When Mary Beth Clarke ’22 told us she "likes to be busy," that may have been the understatement of the year.

When not in class or commuting to campus, she has spent her time at JWU undertaking four different internships, being deeply involved in multiple student clubs (including one she co-launched), and still finding time for extracurricular activities.

Mary Beth Clarke headshotClarke, a Marketing major, is specializing in digital marketing and analytics while minoring in mathematics. She’ll graduate a year early due to a combination of applying credits through early enrollment, where eligible students can start earning college credit their senior year of high school, and Advanced Placement, where students who scored high on AP exams can transfer credit equivalent to courses at JWU; being a member of the then-active Special Honors and Rewards Program (SHARP) when JWU was on a term schedule; and registering for a heavier load of classes each semester.

"I enjoyed all of my classes," Clarke says. "All of JWU’s instructors offered something different and added tools to my marketing toolbelt, and I feel I’ll have a well-rounded background in a lot of different areas. Even non-major General Education classes and core business classes offered great things!"

Queen of Clubs

Clarke is involved in multiple clubs on the Providence Campus, including the College of Business Social Media Ambassador Team, DECA (continuing a membership she began as a high school sophomore) and National Student Organizations (NSO). She’s even a founding member of a new club, the Honors Student Association, which just got approved in Spring 2022 with the help of Professor Wendy Wagner.

Clarke has served as "captain" of the College of Business Social Media Ambassador Team, which consists of a selective group of business students right now but on its way to becoming an official JWU club. Associate Professor Elizabeth Carey had taken several students, including Clarke, under her wing to foster their social media skills, handling social media, content creation, copywriting, and analytics for the College of Business and presenting the group’s findings and results to the college dean. “It keeps us busy, keeping the accounts up and running,” Clarke shares.

She credits her participation in all of these clubs for growing skills outside of the classroom. "The Social Media club is great hands-on experience, while DECA helped me grow soft skills like communication, public speaking, thinking fast in the moment and coming up with a plan. As for the Honors Student Association, my friend was instrumental in coming up with the vision, and we both took on a leadership role to make the dream a reality, presenting to the Student Government Association and submitting approvals and steps. All of these clubs offered something different."

"All of the faculty at JWU have helped me understand that I shouldn’t just settle for a paycheck but should really hunt for a place where I’ll thrive."

photo of Mary Beth Clarke giving a presentation to JWU classmatesClarke also credits her instructors for teaching her much more than classroom material, broadening her perspective with guest speakers and always having a nugget of advice if approached.

"Everyone has shared something," she says. "All of the marketing and advertising instructors have encouraged me to find a good cultural fit rather than worrying about a salary; to find a place where I can showcase my skills. All of the faculty at JWU have helped me understand that I shouldn’t just settle for a paycheck but should really hunt for a place where I’ll thrive. My next stage in life is becoming very real, with all of these applications and interviews, and it’s so great to be able to check in with them about how it’s going, to ask for advice, to have a welcoming relationship with them."

Clarke has also been a Collegiate Ambassador Team (CAT) member, leading JWU Providence Campus tours for prospective students and their families. Clarke shared her own student experience with her tour groups, including how she preferred to live at home rather than in residence halls, to share the message that it’s OK not to feel you have to fill expectations of what a college experience is. "College is what you make of it,” Clarke has told others. “JWU gives you so many opportunities to participate, you can feel a part of the community even if you’re not there 24/7."

Taking Internships by Storm

During her three years at JWU, Clarke has served in four different internships – two this spring semester, one last winter, and one last summer – to contribute to an organization and earn hands-on experience.

From Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, Clarke worked directly with the owner of Research Rockstar, a Massachusetts-based market research company, creating content for the company’s blog and gathering research for future content, as well as developing course materials, PowerPoint decks, visual aids and infographics.

Mary Beth Clarke at her Volkswagon internshipLast summer Clarke interned with Volkswagen Group of America as a marketing & communications intern, working closely with other members of a small marketing team on different projects for Volkswagen Group and Bentley Motors. There, Clarke undertook tasks such as an audit of all the dealerships, spearheaded getting the groundwork done for a multicultural marketing project, worked in CRM software and Excel to create and pull reports, and leaned on her marketing education to complete marketing research and analytics for the company. "Everyone was so supportive if had questions,” Clarke says. “Forty interns were hired to do the work for all Volkswagen brands, so I met interns from other schools across the country, had a great mentor, and had a great taste of working full-time."

Right now, Clarke works for a JWU advertising alumna who runs a side business for social media reporting and data analya for clients. Clarke helps pull reports both monthly and quarterly, and with the alumna on maternity leave Clarke has also stepped up to pull ad-hoc reports when needed. "It’s been a great experience,” Clarke says. “I get my hands deep in real analysis with real implications."

The alumna’s friend happened to own a photography business that needed help with social media and small business consulting, so that has become a second internship that Clarke is working at for Spring 2022. Although less formal than a typical JWU internship, helping to grow those accounts has provided more valuable work experience for Clarke.

Making Time for Life Outside the Classroom

Clarke is not all work, no play; she recognizes the importance of extracurricular activities, particularly Girl Scouts and performing music. She had the opportunity to become a Girl Scout back in kindergarten and is now a lifelong member, having earned all of the Girl Scout’s highest awards (Bronze, Silver and Gold, with Gold being equivalent to an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts). "I owe a lot of leadership skills to the Girl Scouts, who always encouraged you to be yourself and own who you are," says Clarke.

Music is another passion of Clarke’s, and she has played the flute for more than a decade, beginning in a middle school band. "I cannot imagine my life without music!" Clarke exclaims. "After coming to JWU, I joined the Providence College Symphonic Winds Ensemble to seek more opportunities to play."

"Performing music is my secret stress reliever," Clarke continues. "If I struggle with assignments I stop and play flute for 30 minutes to get my focus back."

Views on Life at and after JWU

Mary Beth Clarke posing outdoors"I have friends attending huge schools with a different culture who are jealous of my experience at JWU. I can run into former professors at Starbucks who still remember my name, which you wouldn’t have at a big school. I love that JWU is small enough to give you the opportunity to be known. But you have to be willing to advocate for yourself and go after things to really make the most of your experience here."

As for what comes next after May, Clarke is grateful for all she’s gained between her education and her internship experiences. "I’m still exploring my options, really big-picture things like strategy and consulting. We’ll see how that pans out. I loved running the JWU College of Business social media accounts and I really like math and analytics, too. I think there’s a lot of opportunity in intersecting those three things."

Advice to Newer Students

Clarke suggests that incoming JWU students try to create relationships with professors as much as possible. "Make yourself known," she advises. "Don’t just sit in back of class with your laptop up. Ask questions, be involved. Stay after class if there’s something you want to chat about, even if it’s not academic. I’ve asked my professors for career and life advice. It’s really helpful to create a relationship, so try to get to know them. They like meeting and knowing about you as more than just a student, and their office hours can be social. Make yourself known!"

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