Our Stories

Finding Her Spot

Family (at Vanderbilt and in Nashville) played key role in transition from college to career

Melissa Mendez
Coordinator, Client Success, iHeartMedia

Vanderbilt Master of Marketing 2022

As she prepared to entire her final undergraduate year, Melissa Mendez experienced some emotions that are common to young people about to venture into the working world. “There was a mix of anxiety about entering the job market in the pandemic,” she says, “and also about not knowing exactly what I wanted to do once I graduated.”

She began thinking about graduate school, narrowing her search to Atlanta and Nashville, where two of her siblings live. She ultimately found herself gravitating toward the MMark program at Vanderbilt. “It offered a lot of hands-on experience with classmates who were in a similar position in their careers,” Melissa says. “I also really liked how the profile of the program was younger, so I would be with a lot of people with similar experiences to me.”

The opportunity to be close to family may have been the initial draw, but Melissa soon found an extended family within the Vanderbilt community. “You get to know your classmates, professors, and faculty at Owen,” she says. “Because of the small classes and openness of everyone, you are able to get advice and information that is tailored to you. Even when you’re working on projects, you can really focus on subjects and industries that you find most fascinating.”

As one example, Melissa cites her interactions with an Owen alum who worked in live event activations and partnerships—a job function that Melissa found especially interesting and in which she had some prior experience through her undergraduate coursework. Once Melissa connected with the alum, “she became an amazing point of contact to reach out to and get advice from.” On top of the Career Management Center—which helped her find and land two internships during her year at Vanderbilt—Melissa felt like she had gained the resources to help her establish herself solidly in a career.

“The Vanderbilt community really expands beyond just the people you see on campus every day,” she says. “I’ve been able to connect with alumni who have helped me in making internship decisions and in getting a better understanding of different marketing fields.”

Fun Fact: An ardent crafter, Melissa loves being able to create through sewing, knitting, and embroidery.

Because of the small classes and openness of everyone, you are able to get advice and information that is tailored to you.