My guest today is Semaj Nitta, Student at Loyola University Chicago.
Loyola University Chicago is a private Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1870 by the Jesuits, Loyola is one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States. Loyola’s professional schools include programs in medicine, nursing, and health sciences anchored by the Loyola University Medical Center.
While attending LUC, Semaj has been supplementing her income and gaining experience as a Server at a local breakfast restaurant, Digital Market Internet, and a Student Caller for LUC. .
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Jamin: Hi, I’m Jamin Brazil. You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast. My guest today is Semaj Nitta, student at Loyola University Chicago. Loyola University Chicago is a private catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois founded in 1870 by the Jesuits, Loyola is one of the largest catholic universities in the United States. Loyola’s professional schools include programs in medicine, nursing, and health sciences, anchored by the Loyola University Medical Center. While attending LUC Semaj has been supplementing her income just like many of us did through college and gaining experience as a server at a local breakfast restaurant, digital market intern, and a student caller for LUC. Semaj thank you very much for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.
Semaj: Thank you for having me.
Jamin: It’s an honor. I like to start with this kind of standard question. Give us some context for who you are. Tell us about your parents and what they have done and how that has informed what you’re doing today.
Semaj: Yes. Of course. Well my mom is a single parent and she’s also an immigrant and she was able to create her own business in Los Angeles, California. She worked multiple jobs to provide me the life that I’ve always wanted, but also working towards her goal which was to own her own hair salon. And I think being able to have a single parent but also an immigrant mother has really taught me to really go after what I really want and really take in all of the opportunities that are right in front of me. Watching her over the years has taught me to be the strong independent woman that I am today and that hard work will get you very far in life. Just growing up with her and in an Asian household as well I’ve always strived to do my best and always my best because Asian mothers expect that from you, but I also learned to do a lot of things on my own because independence is very important in our family for some reason.
Jamin: So COVID has a lot of non-essential businesses locked down. What is your mother doing right now?
Semaj: She still does a little clients on the side but the salon itself is completely shut down so she cannot take in walk-ins or anybody that calls. It’s pretty much anyone who directly contacts her if that makes sense.
Jamin: That makes perfect sense. How has COVID impacted you?
Semaj: COVID has impacted me a lot because I’m a student caller so that was where the majority of my income came from. So since the campus is completely shut down ever since March I was really not able to work and I wasn’t able to finance myself and it was very nerve-wracking to be very unsure about your future but COVID also taught me to be patient and just being able to learn more about myself and what I want to do in the future.
Jamin: Thinking about the financial struggles that you’re not facing, what things are you, how is that impacting you? What things are you doing either to augment your income or offset your expenses?
Semaj: I am spending less money. I have a shopping addiction. I think every girl does but I’m trying to spend less and be more aware of my income and my financials. I’m always very grateful because I was able to go back to an old job of mine that I quit early on in the year because of Loyola but I’m glad that I was able to reconnect with my boss and get another job and continue working, but at the end beginning of COVID it was very hard to just find jobs in general since a lot of places were shut down.
Jamin: What’s your major at LUC and why did you pick it?
Semaj: My major is marketing and that was not my first choice. I applied to Loyola with criminology but I wanted to go into the FBI and then I kind of didn’t want to at the same time and then. And then halfway through freshman year I switched to forensics because I wanted to become a coroner and work with dead bodies because I thought that was interesting. But then I sort of just realized that STEM was not my Forte so I switched to business because a friend of mine told me that I was really good with YouTube, social media, and just marketing in general and that I would love it. So I really thought about it and I just went into the Quinlan School of Business and I love it so much now. It’s so much more like my personality and what I want to do in the future so I’m really enjoying it.
Jamin: What is your biggest fear post-graduation? And actually, I should ask, when do you graduate?
Semaj: I graduate next year.
Jamin: So in the spring?
Semaj: Yes, in the spring, May 2021. Very excited.
Jamin: No kidding. So what’s your biggest fear post-graduation?
Semaj: Not getting a job. I’m very scared that I won’t be qualified for positions that I really want to apply for or even a big company that I want to work for. I’m very nervous about not having a job especially in this economy right now too. It’s just really hard to not compare yourself especially accountants and finance majors who are getting their fulltime offers sophomore year and I’m a marketing major and still don’t have a fulltime offer yet. But that’s my biggest fear right now.
Jamin: What kind of job are you hoping to land?
Semaj: I’m hoping to work with a marketing agency, but I also am looking towards social media or brand content making kind of position.
Jamin: So, you’re thinking of an ad agency or?
Semaj: Yes. Like an ad agency.
Jamin: And will you be staying in Chicago or do you plan on moving?
Semaj: I’m 50-50. I really want to move but if I had an offer in Chicago I guess I would stay.
Jamin: You’re going to go where the job is.
Jamin: It’s always been my mantra. So thinking about the, our unemployment rates are at an all-time high. I think April it was, trying to remember. I’m probably getting it wrong but around 15% which was remarkable. In a-going from a record low unemployment now to a record high unemployment and the subsequent sort of chaos in the economy what are you doing in order to help secure that job? Do you have any specific tactics that you’re doing leveraging LinkedIn or something along those lines?
Semaj: I am constantly applying and I’m constantly trying to improve my resume and cover letters to hopefully secure that position that I want in the future. I am also just constantly networking as well to any ad agency or any specific company that I want to work for to really understand how I’m able to get that position possibly post grad.
Jamin: I think, it’s interesting. Job placement is obviously becoming more and more tactical now. And it used to be the case you’d just apply for a job and you’d at least have an interview or something close to it if you’re qualified. Now it’s very hard even to get into the interview stage and part of, a lot of times the first place that HR looks when they’re staffing jobs is to their existing employees. Who do you know that’s in your network that may qualify for this job. And I think you’re really smart when you’re thinking about the networking is how can I connect with people that are in that company and get to know them. I had a friend at Costco and he was, he did the night shift stocking. The CEO came to that particular Costco and he heard him speak and got very energized and this gentleman also has a, my friend has a BA and says I’d like to consider a career in management. And so he then started on LinkedIn, updated his profile and then started liking the posts that executive managers were putting out there and started actually building a digital based relationship with those individuals and then subsequently was able to get interviews as job openings came up. But I think that one of the interesting things about a digital framework is that we do have opportunities to kind of get to know people that may be outside of our immediate sphere and as they are thinking about hiring then that gets us opportunities to be able to potentially be top of mind.
Semaj: Of course.
Jamin: So you fast forward 10 years, where do you see yourself?
Semaj: I see myself in London working for a big fashion brand as head of marketing or social media manager while also attempting to open my own fashion Web site or store.
Jamin: So is there a specific area in fashion that you’re thinking, you’re focusing on?
Semaj: Not specifically. I kind of just like all aspects of fashion. The one thing about me is that I really like to do everything. I don’t like to do anything specific. But I really just want to be able to work towards brands being more inclusive, especially diversity wise. I just want people to look at a billboard or even look at specific brands and look that, look at them and see themselves. I feel like growing up I never got to see enough of people that look like me and I just want more diversity out there in the world.
Jamin: It’s really interesting. I had a gentleman, Mario from ThinkNow and which is a research supplier company and in the interview he actually had some very interesting statistics which of course we all know which is that whites moving towards minority especially among younger generations. And in that context now it becomes very important that brands think about their messaging and communication on how they’re connecting with a more diverse population. Why fashion?
Semaj: I really love clothes. I always for some reason whenever I put on anything it just makes me feel very happy and more confident and I feel like I’m able to really express myself through clothing. And just any aspect of fashion too I think it’s very interesting. And I think it’s very powerful and I think just being able to see women of color even just seeing beautiful pieces on them I think it’s just so powerful in my opinion.
Jamin: Last question. What is your personal motto?
Semaj: My personal motto is do things now or you’ll regret it later. I always tell people that you should just live the life that you want. Easy said than done, but I always tell people to live the life you want because you don’t know what’s going to happen. We did not think COVID was going to happen and now we’re just living in a different completely different world. So I always tell everyone just do what you want to do now because you’re never going to get that kind of experience or life back when things end I guess. When everything’s over.
Jamin: My guest today has been Semaj Nitta, student at Loyola University Chicago. Thank you, Semaj for joining me on the Happy Market Research Podcast today.
Semaj: Thank you for having me.
Jamin: Everyone else if you found value in this episode which I know I did. I hope you’ll take time, screen capture, share it on social media, tag myself, tag Semaj. We would love to share your points of view. Additionally I will send you a t-shirt. Have a good rest of your day.