Maddie Alvarez is a graduate of the University of King’s College and now works as the marketing and communications coordinator at the National Music Centre.

One of my first jobs I was a barista. It teaches you how to interact with people. Something that’s as delicate as someone’s first cup of coffee in the morning really taught me a lot about staying focused, keeping a cool head and ultimately giving someone something that puts a smile on their face. I found that really rewarding. 

I went to school at the University of King’s College in Halifax for their first year program. It’s a comprehensive program for anybody who’s interested in the arts, philosophy and political science, but it really runs the gamut. 

The actual name of my degree is major in sociology and anthropology and a minor in management. I added the management side because I realized that I loved the arts and the research, but the business side really appealed to me as well, which is kind of what pushed me to where I am right now. 

For me, it was really important to get out of Calgary and change my perspective in that way. Halifax is a super charming city and different than Calgary in a lot of important ways. 

What I got out of school was learning to write well, learning how to work with deadlines and being a good advocate for yourself. Being able to speak to somebody, provide a new perspective to them and also receive advice in return – that’s how you build mentors. I wouldn’t be where I am now without my academic mentors, and the mentors I’ve found in the working world as well. 

My first job right out of university was as an intern at NATIONAL Public Relations in Calgary. While I was still studying, I was a summer intern for them and just as I was about to graduate, my old boss called me up saying, ‘we need our old intern back, can you come and work?’I don’t want to say I stumbled into it, but my boss remembered me, remembered my work, wanted me back, so I started at NATIONAL as an intern and that summer I was hired on as a co-ordinator, and was later promoted to an associate.

Maddie Alvarez works as the marketing and communications coordinator at the National Music Centre. Her career came full circle, as NMC is a former client of NATIONAL, her first job post. grad. Photo by Alaina Shirt.

NATIONAL does everything from old school government relations to new school digital comms. And my space was in the digital communications side, specializing in social media and communications. 

I think part of it is the sociology nerd in me that I was like ‘I want to work in a museum.’ I think they’re powerful things, incredible centres of knowledge and I wanted to be a part of that. So I always had this goal in the back of my head. 

I had this really great opportunity to come to NMC, which incidentally was a former client of NATIONAL. I had worked on the NMC file when I was an intern that one summer. Two and a half, three years later, I actually got to join the team of a project that was really formative. It’s one of those full circle moments.

My official title is marketing communications co-ordinator. My job is definitely not one thing. On a day to day, social media is a huge part of my job, media relations and strategic planning and research is another thing that’s growing quickly for me day to day. 

One thing about working in a nonprofit environment like NMC is that things move really fast, so you get a lot of cool performers, people that are on your Spotify, or that you grew up listening to coming through the building. 

Over the summer, the King Eddy opened its doors as a live music venue, restaurant and bar. Being on the team that helped welcome Calgary into that and getting attention on this incredible project was something I’m proud of and really excited about. 

When you’re young it’s not about being everyone’s peer because you’re so new, that’s not going to happen, but being able to reach out and say ‘I’m new, I’m young, please teach me’ has been indispensable for me.

I don’t think I have any big career goals quite yet, but I know I want to be in a place where I’m learning and applying what I learn. And I’m learning something and I’m bringing it to my workplace. And I get to do that right now. 

As told to Alaina Shirt. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

This article is part of a series of profiles on industry professionals through the Calgary Journal. To see more like this, visit the On the Job page.

Editor: Mariam Taiwo | mtaiwo@cjournal.ca