At UAT, we are proud of the work students consistently do while on campus, but it's really exciting to see them continue on with great success after graduation. Every year our students leave to become respected innovators, and an excellent example is Tylene "Ty" Robinson, International & Sales Operations Manager at Symetrix in Seattle. Read on to find out where she's been and how she's achieved her current success.
What did you study at UAT and when did you graduate?
I graduated SUMMA CUM LAUDE in 2011 with my BA in Digital Media.
What has been your career path since graduation?
I started my career off really “scraping it out” in the freelance industry. I worked as an intern with a local artist in Scottsdale for a year learning all kinds of trades and as a result started getting into digital marketing. I really felt like I needed to move to California because there would be more opportunities there for someone with my mixed bag of digital tricks and skills. I moved to SoCal and became the marketing coordinator at a car dealership, which only lasted about 4 months. While working at the car dealership I went to the Chamber of Commerce on their behalf for various networking meetings and I realized I could make more money and have more fun working with the small businesses who participated in the Chamber. I quit the car dealership and began writing blogs, creating social media marketing plans and creating or updating business listings for small businesses. One business, namely, the Tin Fish Oceanside – ended up hiring me to do their entire marketing and press campaign for their grand opening in Oceanside. Not only did I help get the word out via digital marketing campaigns and creating their business listings, etc. they also ended up hiring me to train their new staff on customer service.
Completely exhausted from my stint in SoCal, I decided to continue up the coast to join my family who had recently moved to Seattle. Shortly after arriving, I was offered a contract position with a digital marketing company then called Cobalt – offering full web solutions from websites to digital advertising and social media packages for Car Dealerships (hey! Pretty crazy right?!). I spent 6 years at Cobalt (now called CDK Global) and worked extremely hard. I started off as a web designer and worked my way up to Project Manager. I absolutely loved being a project manager and having a technical background really played to my strengths! I took it to the next level of project management and spent the last year of my time at CDK nerd-ing out on Process Improvement and attained my Yellow Belt Certification. I drove many process improvement projects that yielded soft dollar savings as well as improved customer and employee experiences.
A year ago – December-ish 2018, my parents bought a manufacturing business in the Seattle area who manufacture professional audio equipment. Shortly after buying the business, their Sales Administrator left and they offered me the position. With my background in Process Improvement and Operations (project management), I immediately recognized gaps in the Sales Organization and began to restructure the team in partnership with my father, the CEO. I became the Sales Operations manager and Manager of International Sales.
How did you become an effective leader?
I had to fight my way up the ladder so therefore, no matter where I was or what I was doing, I worked harder and smarter than anyone around me. I also truly believe that if you want to get ahead and be a leader – you have to be a lifelong learner. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation. I am constantly researching and learning new things based on the job or project that’s in front me. They say leaders are readers and it couldn’t be more true. Keep showing up, keep working hard – keep learning and applying and you’re guaranteed to get ahead! Being a leader is not easy and it is not for everyone. I have had to overcome many personal and professional hurdles along the way – but it’s always been a drive within me so I just keep going every day.
How did your education at UAT help you?
I’ll never forget in my senior project class, the professor would say every day KPI, KPI, KPI. Now, I use that term on a regular basis and I am shocked at how many professionals don’t know what a KPI is or how to leverage data effectively to get results.
My education at UAT was great! I learned many different skills but I really appreciated the focus on business excellence. Thinking about success metrics, forcing us to give presentations constantly. This gave me an edge.
What is your ultimate goal for your career?
My ultimate goal is to make a difference and to have a positive influence. I realized about 2 years ago that I had stop thinking inside the box when it comes to my career. I no longer think “Hey, I want to be a full stack developer, or hey I want to be a doctor or lawyer”… that’s so limiting!!!!! Understand what drives you, understand what motivates you – and the jobs (your career) will fall into place. I can’t tell you how many roles I’ve been in or seen others go to that I (or they) created to fill a need or gap for a customer or business based on my/their unique experiences, talents and vision. So the ultimate goal in my career is to drive the success of those around me – customers and employees and to foster profitable businesses whatever the role finds me in.
What advice do you have for students to be successful in school?
Just do it, put the time in, put the work in. It’s a drop in the bucket and you will learn a lot from it. Just keep showing up. Even if you show up and fail or you show up totally unprepared with no idea what you’re doing. Just keep showing up, do the work and it will pay off. It doesn’t matter where you go to school or what you study, you need to go and get it done. It may seem like a long time but it’s nothing in the long run and you’ll be grateful you did it for yourself and you will always have it. Hey, I even quit my job and lived on student loans so I could make school my job. Because of that I was determined to get straight A’s and I did. Now I have bragging rights for the rest of my life.
What advice would you give other students to encourage them to pursue their goals after college?
There are going to be times, especially after you just graduate, where everything seems hopeless. You think you’re stuck in retail for the rest of your life. A couple years may even go by... but never give up on yourself or your dreams for yourself. Just keep going. There’s nothing more important. You have no idea where the future will take you and how crazy and beautiful it will be if you just stay persistent to make your dreams come true and you focus on what drives you instead of that “inside the box” idea. This is so true of my career. When I graduated I thought I was going to be a graphic designer. I quickly realized how small that is and never imagined the amazing experiences and challenges I would enjoy. There were many times where all felt hopeless and I wanted to give up. I didn’t – and it paid off. Stay persistent, always.
What do you see for the future of tech?
I see the user experience dominating all aspects of tech in every way and big data driving it.
Since Tylene's graduation from UAT, our Digital Media degree has since been re-designed as an Advertising Art degree program (in addition to a Digital Marketing degree). This degree allows students to blend their art skills with marketing to create compelling ads that motivate consumers. UAT teaches students how to use the most advanced production tools and how to apply design and advertising to new technology. Students will also learn about the history and evolution of advertising as it relates to art and creating within agency production environments. The program is available both on campus and online.
Find out if UAT is right for you. Visit https://www.uat.edu/about-uat.
Learn. Experience. Innovate.
Written by Lisha Dunlap
Sr. PR Assoc., Media & Influencer Relations at University of Advancing Technology