Alumni Interview: Jack Thornburg

by Katherine Serrano

jack-thornburgMajors: Business Marketing, Religion

Graduated: 2010

What was your major(s)/minor(s) while you were at IWU? Did they change throughout your years?

I received a double major in Business (Marketing) and Religion. I didn’t make any changes while I was there – I knew that marketing was a field I would enjoy making a career out of and the religion courses were consistently my favorite at IWU.

Were you a part of any RSO’s or Greek Life?

I was a Sigma Chi and also worked on the Fraternity & Sorority Programming Board.

What on-campus resource(s) helped you excel throughout your years at IWU?

The Hart Career Center was a tremendous help and actually put me in contact with the hiring manager at L2TMedia. Without a doubt, the Career Center is a resource that everyone at IWU should be utilizing very early on. I think people wait to reach out to career advisers until they’re panicked and looking for a job. Start those relationships early – share what classes you enjoy taking, discuss what types of internships might interest you, and ask about graduates that have gone into careers that appeal to you. It’s true that you don’t need to know exactly what you want to do while in college, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not exploring your options and testing some cool things out along the way!

What is your role as SEO & Social Media Manager? Can you describe the work that you do?

At L2TMedia, we provide digital marketing solutions primarily within the automotive industry. Products include Paid Advertising (PPC), Display Advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, and Reputation Management. I oversee the strategies and specialists for our SEO, Social Media, and Reputation Management products. As a manager, much of my time is spent keeping up with industry trends, understanding what those trends mean for our clients, and making decisions around how we should adjust our strategies. The digital marketing world is always changing, so it takes a lot of work to ensure that we’re providing the best services possible to our clients.

How has each of your major(s)/minor(s) helped you to this day?

Illinois Wesleyan does a great job of allowing (and encouraging) students to take a variety of classes. Studying religion appealed to me because of the requirement to think critically from another person or culture’s point of view. It’s no secret that much of marketing requires the same skill.

If you were to hire future IWU alumni, what characteristics would you look for in candidates?

At the risk of giving a simplistic answer, I look for candidates who are personable and excited to learn. Most college graduates simply don’t have a ton of experience to pull from – and that’s fine. I think most hiring managers know this, so they look for bright candidates that will be easy to work with (communicate well, know right from wrong) and will walk into the office eager to learn.

If you had the opportunity to make one change from your IWU experience, what would it be?

I still kick myself for not taking computer science courses. The ability to understand how computers and applications work is invaluable in most careers and will only become more important in the future. Whether or not you can code/develop a website from scratch isn’t critical for most professions, but understanding core concepts like how data is collected and how you can modify technology to suit your needs is invaluable across the board. (If you haven’t taken courses at IWU, it’s not too late! A good place to start is

What was the best part about attending IWU?

The best part about attending IWU was being able to study religion as well as business. I would encourage all students to take plenty of courses outside of their major. To put it bluntly, I always lean towards hiring entry level candidates with strong liberal arts backgrounds over those that have specialized themselves. So much of business (and agency work, in particular) is being able to think critically outside of your “expertise.” Illinois Wesleyan gives you an awesome opportunity to practice this critical thinking through a variety of courses, so take advantage whenever possible!


More questions for Jack?  The Hart Career Center can put you in contact with him!

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