BY: Casey Markiewicz (’20)
One of our very own professors is an outstanding alumnus: Mandy Pennington! Mandy graduated with her B.A. in Communication Arts, specializing in Advertising and Public Relations, in 2010 and achieved her M.A. in Communication Arts in 2011. Mandy now teaches multiple classes here at Marywood University while also working at as the Director of Internet Marketing at Net Driven.
Mandy is a busy soul and says it best herself: “I’m the Director of Internet Marketing. And the Co-Founder of NEPA BlogCon and Squirrel Girls Tech Camp. And a teacher. And an actor. And a writer. And a foodie. And a wife. And the owner of a very talkative cat.”
Casey: So, what’s an average day at your position at Net Driven like?
Mandy: Every day is a new adventure, which is what I love about working in Internet Marketing. Things are constantly moving, and you’re challenged to be both creative and analytical. On any given day, you’ll find me working with my team or with other parts of the organization, planning ahead for what’s up next. As Director of Internet Marketing, much of my time is spent working on ways to better fulfill and grow the client work we do. One minute I may be reviewing Google Analytics performance data, and another, I’ll be in a meeting with one of our business development relationships.
Casey: How do you feel Marywood University aided you in your career?
Mandy: Marywood shaped me personally and professionally. It connected me to mentors who cultivated my curiosity and coached me to maintain a strong character. Some of my dearest friendships were born on campus. I was given the opportunity to explore my potential from day one. It was up to me to take action and to push myself, but the opportunity was always there. Not everyone gets that chance. I’m so grateful. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for the connections I made at Marywood.
Casey: How did you, along with your co-founders, create the idea of BlogCon?
Mandy: Picture this: three bloggers walk into a bar in Pittston to attend a blogger meetup. At the time, that meetup, which focused on political bloggers, was the only event regionally for those who were active in the social media and blogosphere.
While we already knew each other by our Twitter handles, this was the first time Karla, Michelle, Leslie, and I met in person. We chatted about our aspirations, our blogs, our jobs, and social media in general. It was one of those moments where lightning was bottled. Then we collectively asked, “Wouldn’t it be great to have an event where bloggers can actually teach and learn from each other?”
We were hungry for the opportunity to learn more about using new media. We also recognized that there were resources and talent within our region that could help us achieve our goal of educating and advancing our region–all we needed was the right platform. Within 24 hours, we had a conference name, website URL, and our squirrel mascot. NEPA BlogCon was born!
Casey: How did you turn your idea a reality?
Mandy: A lot of hard work and planning. Seeing that we all had full-time jobs in addition to other pursuits in our community, we got very good at being organized and efficient. We were lucky in that we shared similar work ethics, but technology is what really made it possible. Since the beginning, we’ve used digital collaboration tools like Google Drive to make it easier to work together remotely throughout the year. Even though NEPA BlogCon is annual, we never stop planning. We’re always working on ways to make the event better and more engaging for our attendees.
Another key ingredient is our sense of purpose. We’re all very passionate about making an impact in our community. When we first started NEPA BlogCon, we knew we wanted it to be a non-profit endeavor. In a few short years, we were able to raise thousands for organizations like the Arc of Luzerne County, the NEPA Veterans Multicare Alliance, and Blue Chip Farms Animal Refuge. In 2014, we launched Squirrel Girls Tech Camp and found a true calling. Our girls STEM education camp for grades 4-6 aligned perfectly with our mission to educate and desire to enrich the region. Today, all proceeds from NEPA BlogCon go to fund Squirrel Girls Tech Camp. We’re proud to have served more than 50 girls locally with a fun, safe, and encouraging environment to explore technology.
Casey: What was your BlogCon experience like this year?
Mandy: It keeps getting better and better. Penn State Worthington-Scranton was fabulous to work with as a venue and we’re excited to be returning to their campus next year. I got to meet so many new faces. Great collaborations with all of our sponsors and community partners, too!
Every year, I’m in awe of the people. We meet wonderful and inspiring people from near and far, who come together with us to share in something that’s truly special. There’s no event like ours in that we make it as actionable and accessible as possible for everyone from small business owners to students. You can attend NEPA BlogCon for a fraction of the cost of a more recognized industry conference you would find in Philadelphia or New York, and still get the same quality of presenters. Plus, you’re supporting girls STEM education in our region while you learn with us! It’s a win-win all around.
Casey: Any words of advice for current Comm Arts students?
Mandy: Try absolutely everything. When you get the opportunity to write something, make something, build something, play with something, go for it. Take the internship. Meet that colleague for coffee. Start the podcast you keep talking about. Participate. Ask questions. Help. Your time is what you make of it.
Check out some of Mandy’s Comm Arts courses:
- Marketing Principles & Practices
- Telecommunications Sales & Promotion
- Advertising Principles & Practices
- Media Planning & Buying
- Special Topics course in Web Presence Development
Casey Markiewicz is a freshman Public Relations/Advertising major. When she’s not in class or writing for Frame Your Future, she’s getting involved in the PRSSA/AAF organization.