Our Stories

Recalibrating Skills for a Post-COVID Career

Pandemic takes travel buff Haley Benz toward a new destination

Haley Benz
Marketing Intern, WELLinsulated

Vanderbilt Master of Marketing 2021

After graduating from college in 2019, Haley Benz found a job that was well suited for her love of travel. Working in client services for a startup travel app, in turn, piqued her interest in insights that drive consumer decision-making and contribute to their overall experience with a brand, especially for new and innovative companies.

When the global COVID-19 pandemic essentially shut down the travel industry, Haley says, “It was time for me to make a decision about what I really wanted in my career going forward. For me, that meant honing my marketing skills for a change in industry and function.”

She had never visited Nashville, but Haley was familiar with Vanderbilt’s ranking and wide alumni network. “[Coming here] was a leap of faith,” she admits, “but I knew from the school and city’s reputation that it would be worth it. When I got here and walked around the campus for the first time, mask and all, it was a great reassurance that I was meant to be here.”

That reassurance only grew stronger during her year in the program. She credits the Leadership Development Program with making her a better student, communicator, and collaborator. Brand Week, Haley says, “gives great functional experience in strategizing and providing real marketing recommendations. It’s idea management, quick brainstorming, presentation practice, and it’s also really fun!”

Even amid the pandemic, Haley was able to complete a six-month internship remotely with WELLInsulated, a cosmetic accessory retailer, which set her on a new career path. “My experience in the program has given me the tools to take my existing skills and transfer them to the industry and function I’m interested in,” she says. “Professors and the CMC have helped paint a picture of what a career as a marketer looks like—and it’s much broader than I thought, with many different opportunities. I’ve been able to validate my existing analytical and creative skills with a marketing emphasis to pursue professional opportunities in the beauty and cosmetics space—an industry I didn’t have experience in before conducting course and independent projects during my very first module at Owen.”



Fun Fact: An avid traveler, Haley spent a semester studying in Barcelona, Spain.

Professors and the CMC have helped paint a picture of what a career as a marketer looks like—and it’s much broader than I thought, with many different opportunities.