Zorgie Sanchez, Writing Center Tutor Alumni Profile
ZORGIE SANCHEZ. BA '16 in English and African American Studies, UIC WC tutor 2014-2018 Heading link
9/29/21 Interview with UIC Writing Center Tutor ‘16 alumna, Zorgie Sanchez Heading link
9/29/21 Interview with UIC Writing Center Tutor ‘16 alumna, Zorgie Sanchez
- Pronouns: She/her/hers
- Graduated: BA 2016 in English and African American Studies; MA 2018 in English
- Took 222: 2014 with Vainis
- Tutored: 2014-2018 (summers too)
- Now: Senior Account Executive at BCV, a social media company serving the hospitality industry
Tell us a little bit about what your current job is, and what you’re doing these days.
Okay, I always find my job so hard to describe. In a nutshell, I do social media coordination for about 30 luxury hotel brands. In the NOT nutshell, I do everything from content creation, copywriting, content capture—and I do everything for these 30 accounts. So I’ll start with the day to day. I will be the one talking to clients. I lead phone calls, most days. Just scheduling monthly events and things like that that they have going on on the hotels’ social media channels. On the backend, I handle billing and social media statistics for them, so I do have to compose monthly reports and things like that for the clients. On the front end, I get to go to all of these places and I get to take their photos for the year. So either I take them or I go with a professional photographer/videographer, and I’ll lead them in a content shoot. So I’m traveling about 40% of the year.
Wow. A lot of the time! Is that something that has been true even through the pandemic, are you still traveling a lot?
So, we just started back up in about April; I had my first trip in about a year. Since April, I have been out of the house every two weeks. So we’ve been keeping it up since April.
Okay, and that’s because you’re attending these events where you’re going to document it with a photographer-videographer, that kind of thing?
Yeah, so there will be events, but it’ll also be just the content that they need for the entire year, to put together their social media calendars or any promotional things they may need for their websites or anything like that.
So you’re going on to the site of these hotels largely. All right! Tell me, what is your favorite thing about your job? What do you enjoy the most about it?
I love to travel. I’ve been everywhere. The coolest place I got to go to was St Martin. Yeah, I got to go to India in 2019 right before the pandemic. But I’ve gotten to see a lot of the U.S. Travel is definitely one of my favorite parts. We usually travel with someone new on the team each time I travel, so I get to know a lot of my coworkers, because we’ll spend three to four days together on a property directing the issue.
Do you ever do get to include your loved ones and not travel at all, or is it always work?
So I actually took my best friend with me to Arizona when I went in April. So, I actually had her model in the shoot and she got to stay the night with me at the hotel, and then we went on a little getaway for spring break. So it just depends on everyone’s schedule; I’m also traveling during the week, So it’ll just depends on schedules, but I’ve tried to have my friends come out, or the husband if he wants to but he’s usually working.
Sometimes it’s domestic and sometimes it’s outside of the U.S. as well?
Yeah. With COVID, we I actually had to switch teams, so I don’t have as many international clients anymore; my old team I did have international clients, so that included the Caribbean and now the Maldives. Right now I’m working with a client in Bora Bora, and one in Trinidad and Tobago.
So that’s kind of one of the really enjoyable things, it sounds like you still like travel; I know that sometimes people who have it for their job say there’s a little bit of fatigue that comes with it but are you still largely enjoying the travel?
Yeah, right now, I’m not a senior level just yet. When you hit senior level you are out traveling about 60 to 70% of the year. So right now I travel like maybe once or twice a month. So I still have like that breathing room in between. Or I’ll even have a whole month I get to stay at home. Yeah, but right now I like it.
And is this something that you would say is a feature of the job for most people who are doing social media coordination or is it because you specifically have clients who are hotels?
It is specifically because I am working with hotels.
And have you always been doing hotels or was it something you moved into in this job over the course of your time at this company?
We only work for the hospitality industry so we do major league hotels, and we used to do some restaurants. I don’t think we’re doing restaurant as much anymore, but when I started out four years ago, we were doing restaurants and hotels.
So this is me asking a naive question, but you said that you’re doing things like content creation and also content capture What is “content capture”?
So content capture would be the actual photography and the video, and the creation would be the graphic design portion of it. [When Zorgie shared her photos: When i’m not taking photos, I’m expected to model, haha. So I’ve included a pic or two of me modeling, a couple of me shooting photos, one of my graduation from graduate school and one of my little family.]
Is there also writing involved–are you writing descriptive text around it?
Okay, so our company is lucky enough to have a lot of teams, so we do have a copywriting team, and we have a great graphic design team, but a lot of the times, if we’re short staffed or anything like that, I will have to come up with copy for one of the 30 things I need in the day. And also just writing a lot of technical emails to clients. You know the English degree has really come in handy.
I was gonna ask you to what extent do you feel your kind of training in English or as a Writing Center tutor comes into play in your job? Are there aspects where it translates or applies?
Yeah, I am constantly presenting. And the biggest part of my role is the client management, so just being able to be able to like summarize something very simply for a client, like very technical things, being able to explain them in like, two sentences, or things like that. And just, you know, being able to be friendly and build a relationship with someone. So I think like the English degree has helped so, so, so, so much, especially with email writing. Most people come to me for having to write the “hard” emails where we may have to dispute something or a client is angry at us about something; I’m usually the one writing those emails back to smooth things over.
Yeah, I think we underestimate how much high stakes email can be part of the job. Even though in school we talk about publishing for a scholarly audience like journals, by and large, most of the sensitive, high stakes writing we’re doing is over email, I find.
Yeah, I write about 25 to 50 emails a day, depending on the day. Yeah, so I’m still doing a ton of writing, it’s shorter, but you also have to be a lot more concise and be very careful with the word choice, especially since we can’t hop on a phone call all the time to get the tone, you have to be able to convey it appropriately in an email.
As a writing center, tutor, I feel like there’s often also a kind of diplomacy that comes into play. I don’t know if you feel like there’s an analogy between clients and writers but people often come to the Center in a state of anxiety about a convention that’s alien to them, and they can bring a lot of emotion to sessions. I wonder, do you feel like having learned how to negotiate expectations and defuse emotions as a tutor, does that translate, or is that not quite the same thing?
Absolutely the same thing. I think a lot of our job is kind of negotiating expectations, because a lot of people don’t necessarily understand the social media sphere yet, and it’s just always changing. So being able to temper those emotions and negotiate those expectations, being able to explain things calmly— and just acknowledging their feelings is always my thing, which is also something that I learned at the Writing Center. Acknowledging someone’s feelings goes a long way. So yeah, it’s a lot of diplomacy, a lot of like being able to read people, being able to read a situation.
If we have students who are thinking about going into the world of social media, are there things that you feel like you’d wished in hindsight you’d known or can you give people a little bit of your take on that career path? Are there things that would be helpful for people to know if they’re considering this path?
Yes! I wish I had taken an internship earlier in college. I didn’t do a social media internship until grad school. But also, back then, there wasn’t a lot of classes or as much know-how about social as there is now. So now, I think: taking advantage of any classes that are offered, any certifications that are out there while you’re still in college that you can get, and internships. There are a lot more paid internships going around too, I’m seeing. Another thing was that I thought I wouldn’t be able to go into social because I did not have a degree in Marketing, and I didn’t have a lot of experience in Marketing. But I think if you’re willing and you’re agile enough, you learn a lot of it on the job, much more than you would in a classroom setting. So a lot of my role I’ve learned on the job with people who have been willing to teach me how to do specific things like advertising and crunching numbers and things like that. A lot of that is learned on the job and applied on the job as well.
Since you said your path into this field wasn’t a traditional one in the sense that you didn’t go for a marketing degree, would you talk a little bit about the path that got you here?
Yeah, I was in my last semester of grad school; I was looking for another job just to make ends meet. So I was looking for a part-time job that would fit around my schedule. And I ended up finding a job with this company, BCV, and they had part-time job; you got to pick your own schedule. And what I would do is I was a social media monitor. So I had to monitor about 50 hotel accounts. So I would do just basically like customer service. So, answering any questions that people may have about their stay or about the hotel, things like that. And I did that for the rest of my grad school career. And when I graduated grad school, they offered me a job full-time.
And since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, I was like– well, I’m doing this anyway, so I went with it and I took a full-time job. Once I was there about six months, they really liked my work, they liked my writing, and they wanted to know if I was interested in being trained to be a Junior Account Executive And they knew I didn’t have the background in marketing, so they actually had a program for people who were monitors to be trained to be account executives and to be able to interview to get that role. Yeah, so I got to do that training for about six months. And then, a Senior Account Executive took me under her wing, and she mentored me. Then I got the role, and from there I worked with different teams. Since then, they also are teaching me the ropes and just learning, day by day.
It sounds like they have a pretty nice opportunities for people to grow and develop within the company. How would you characterize the culture of this company and do you feel like it’s representative of social media jobs generally or do you think it’s very different from place to place? Is it a culture that really values giving people opportunities to learn and grow? Is there a lot of mentoring? How would you characterize it, and is it unusual?
Well, in my personal experience, I’ve had just a ton of great people that I love working with. The Senior Account Executive that I used to work with pre COVID—she honestly taught me everything that I know now, and I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She really took me under her wing; she taught me how to do all the things I didn’t know how to do. It felt like a nurturing environment. And it just set the pace for me as to how to help other people who are also coming into the company. So I do have a junior who works under me, and I’m also giving her the same lay of the land as I got. And I feel like it’s the same thing across the board. And I wonder if it’s also just like a millennial thing? Our company is very young. Very, very young. Yeah. I think lke our general manager is in his late 40s, maybe, if not early 40s. So everyone is in their 30s or 20s that I work with.
How big is your is the company? I don’t know if it’s many different cities or what?
We have expanded a lot. We had originally a Chicago and Miami office. So I mean, in our Chicago office we have, maybe 60 or 70 people. I’m not sure anymore we’ve been on a hiring spree. So, there’s been a lot of hiring lately, but we have people all over right now. Our company was also acquired by another company, I think August of 2018, maybe a little earlier. So, it’s just gotten massively huge, we have people in India, we have people in Miami, Dallas, Denver and here in Chicago.
Do you tend to hire people, right out of undergrad or what kind of background, do they look for when they’re hiring?
Typically for the Junior Account Executive role, they do want someone with a year of experience in social. But I do think they take into account internships and things like that. For those Account executive and Senior Account Executive role they do need three to five years of experience with social, preferably with an agency. So already having that exposure to the world, and the lay of the land. But for the monitoring role, that was straight out of college, undergrad.
So people who are right out of college, it seems like one way to get that year of experience would be to do an internship. Are there paid internships?
They do not have paid internships. I think we did an internship program this summer. But it was remote, and it was like, you could choose to go into the office, there were people in the office. Oh, we actually hired two people straight from the internship program. So they did count that as her experience and she was straight out of college, and she’s now a I think she’s a strategist, a junior brand strategist.
So the internship program is something people could look at—look at websites for different social media companies or agencies and see if they’re offering internships, that it might be worth your while to do that.
If you’re able to do it unpaid, I think a lot of companies take notice of that, especially now. And a lot of the time, those unpaid ones are six weeks; they might be 15 hours a week. So they’re not super., super demanding and now they’re remote, whereas before you would actually have to go into the office for a good chunk of the day.
But it sounds like it’s true that kind of experience counts for quite a lot. It’s a way for them to get to know you as a potential employee, and if it’s something you can afford to do it might be worth it for you to get a preview of them and vice versa.
Right. And I think just being able to make those connections, and networking: very big, very real.
You said internships is one way to get a kind of preview of this career. Are there other things people should do? For example, if you’re applying for this job, do they want you to have a portfolio that shows work you’ve done? Is there something you should come prepared with?
Yes. So what I used to do before I had a real portfolio to show is, I would actually showcase my Instagram page. Yes, because a lot of our like social media strategy falls behind what does your aesthetic look like on your social pages, your own copywriting on your posts. Not even as much as like the followers or anything like that. Just looking at what kind of content you’re creating, and that kind of shows what your mind is like too. So if you have a public one—if it’s private, they’re not going to go deep into it—but it’s good to have a public profile that you’re just updating with anything. I think a lot of the people in the company do this too that travel, they’ll have a separate page just to showcase their travel. So it’s something public that they can have, in case they ever do an interview or anything like, that they can show like, “Oh this is a page I created, this is content that I’ve captured. This is like an aesthetic that I could pull for your company.”
You’ve been doing this for how long now?
I’ve been an account executive for almost three years, and I’ve been with the company for four.
When you did the Master’s in English, did you know you wanted to go into social media?
I was actually going to take a gap year and pursue my PhD. after the Masters. And I started talking with some people who are account executives and started learning about the role, everything that they do. And I think I just became very immersed in that world, because it is its own world, with its own culture, its own language, and I liked it. It drew me in, especially the travel portion of it. I don’t know. I was just like, I could spend the next six years pursuing my PhD, which is something that I did want to do, but grad school is something that was just so hard, and it was demanding, and I tried the teaching portion in grad school and it wasn’t something I really vibed with. So I was like: is that something that’s worth pursuing for six years versus something that I’m very interested in right now? So, I decided to go down that road and here I am today.
Do you feel like people who have a certain kind of personality do well? What kinds of people seem to be happy in this job?
You have to have a very Type A personality, You have to like to have things organized. It is a LOT of things to keep track of. You’re in charge of a lot of things, and you have to meet a lot of deadlines. So being able to keep all of those things organized, having a lot of accountability. And I think being personable. I still get a little anxiety or get a little shy presenting and talking to new people. But I like doing it. So I think it has to be someone that likes to turn on that charm and just always be on the phone—you know, that kind of thing. So it is something that you have to have like a certain personality for it. But this is just for the client side. Because if you want to do social media and you want to do it more on the non-client, statistics side, there are plenty of roles where people don’t have to actually interact with clients or do any of that kind of management. They will just handle more the back end, like analytics. There’s also a lot of social media advertising, copywriting for social media. Yeah, our copywriters never deal with a client. That’s my job. So there’s also plenty of options out there, if you do want to go into social media?
Do you you see a lot of English majors in this field?
Oh yeah, yeah. In my team, specifically for client services, one of my close friends was an art history major, and she has a Master’s in Art History, she was actually going into art education, and she’s now an account executive. And, well the copywriting team of course, is all English majors.
That’s good to know. Is it a field that people stay in for a while? You said everyone’s young and sometimes that can mean it’s because the pace is so fast that it’s hard to sustain. I’ve been in jobs like animation where it’s like, hmm, there’s a reason everyone here is under the age of 30, because we’re working 12 hour days, we don’t have children at home. But do you feel like it is a job that allows people to grow and age— is it sustainable? Or is there burnout?
I’ll let you know! We have a core group of people who’ve been with the company for a very long time. They’ve been with the company since it started. So they are in their mid-30s, and they have families now. And I think as you’re growing and progressing, you get to a point in your career, even in social, where you’re able to balance all those things and things kind of calm down. Usually the account executives are the ones traveling. People who are supervisors or account directors don’t travel as much; they might travel only 20% of the year. So I think as you grow and progress, projects might get a little bit more difficult. But at the same time, you now have the experience, the knowledge, the wisdom and everything that comes with the time you’ve spent in the industry. And— I hate the phrase but you’ve paid your dues. So you’re able to pick and choose. Like, do I want to travel or do I want to stay home? You now have that the ability to choose.
For you do you have a sense of where you’d like to be next like? Is there a new frontier for you or have a vision of where you’d like to grow in this job?
Yeah. We usually do yearly reviews, so ideally by my next yearly review I’d love to be promoted. I’d love to be a Senior Account Executive soon. Yeah, just keep going up, I guess. I do love the company. I especially love the people that I work, all of the teams that I work with.
How has it been for you working at home? Has that changed the dynamic and what’s good and what’s not good about it?
You know, Zoom has really been the new frontier. So I think before we actually never had a lot of face time with clients, we would just talk on the phone, and now that we have Zoom, we actually have face-to-face meetings those days. So I feel like I’ve actually been able to build better relationships with my clients because of that. I think also a lot of our Chicago branch has dispersed. So even though we do have the office reopened right now, we only go in maybe once or twice a week. But so many people live so far away now, or they’ve moved to a completely different state, so we only see maybe 20 people tops in the office on those days that we come in. I feel like it’s just made people more online. So if I ping someone during the day, I’m more likely to get a response in a few minutes versus before when we were in the office, it took a couple hours to get a response from someone, even though they’re right across from me. Yeah, I think people are more cognizant of that. And it’s easier to get in touch with people, since we’ve been remote. Which is weird but yeah— easier than when we were actually in the office.
Are there any things that you find challenging about about the job? What’s the hard part?
Time management. I have a very big portfolio, right now, of clients that I work with. And although I do have people helping me out here and there, they also have their own workload, so a lot of it is just finding a healthy work-life balance, and trying to learn how to disconnect when you’re actually like offline, trying not to work over, like, trying not to work on the weekends, just because of the amount of work that we have sometimes. Yeah, I think with like social media—you learn this like when you’re in the role you’re expected to know it all, and do it all. And very quickly you can get very burned out. So I think just taking everything with a grain of salt. And knowing that everyone has been there before, they didn’t know like certain things, and you learn with time, how to do it.
You said it’s hard to disconnect and be offline. I wonder if that’s compounded by the fact that you’re in a world where now you’re expected to interact with y your colleagues and your clients online, working remotely, and your job is about producing online content. Are there any things you need to do to curtail your screen time to keep you sane? Because I feel like there could be this suction into the screen where you’re like, I could spend every waking moment on my screen. But is there anything you do to help yourself get away from it?
To add on to that, we are always told hospitality is a 24/7 industry. So, yes, definitely in that first year, there would be times where I would shooting off emails at like, 11pm, because there are clients in different time zones and they need something immediately. And my boss would just be like, No: you have to learn how to set boundaries, even with clients. If an email comes in after 5pm, is it super crucial or super important? No, it can wait until tomorrow morning. So I think you go into the job and you always want to do your absolute best. And that might include you not wanting to put in boundaries from the get-go. But you should. Everyone has boundaries, you know, just so they can keep their sanity. And I think establishing those as early on as possible is key, especially in this field where everything is “go, go, go, 24/7, you should be responding to me right now” kind of thing.
And potentially you could respond. It’s not like in the days where you had to make a phone call and no one made calls outside nine to five. Our leisure time is the same place where our work time is taking place, both in terms of working from home and the laptop. If you’re watching Netflix or something like that, your inbox is right there; you’re never far from that inbox, I guess.
Yeah. I think just being able to establish those boundaries… I know when I’m out of office. I usually tell clients I’m taking a vacation, I’m gonna be out these days. I will have your deliverables before then; if you need something during that time, this is the person you should reach. So always have a designated person for them to be able to contact.But if they need me, they can call me if it is an emergency. And no one has yet called me on an emergency, so that’s good.
Do you also have to be explicit with them the way teachers are about hours–like, I can take calls but not on weekends or after six?
It depends on the client, honestly. You’d be surprised how many people you really do have to tell like I work from 9am to 5pm, if it is an emergency you can reach out to me here, or I will respond to you by morning time. But yes I’ve had to have those conversations, multiple times. And sometimes, like if somebody does like learn your phone number and they’re like, oh I can call you. They will be calling you night and day. Soit’s just learning how to establish those boundaries. And yes, being very much like a teacher and specifically letting them know what is appropriate, what is not. This is what is in our contracts, kind of thing.
Given what your life is like these day and how much travel you’re doing, what do you just to destress or to give yourself some Zorgie time? What is this fun for you these days?
Now that the gyms are a little bit more open, I usually go to the gym after work, and I try not to have anything on my screen. I listen to a podcast or music, just to not look at a screen for an hour or two a a day. I love walking walking the dog. I still do a little bit of writing here and there, nothing big, just to keep the creativity going,
What kind of writing do you like to do?
Are you working on a project like short stories or a novel or does it have a shape that you’d want to put a name to at this point?
Not yet. Because this year has been so rough with COVID and everything, there just hasn’t been a lot of free time, and the little bit of free time that I’ve had, I’ve just been like, I don’t want to be anywhere near a screen..
You said you have a dog and you have a husband. Will you tell us about your dog and husband?
My dog Caribou is sitting right under me as he usually does during meetings. That’s his favorite spot. My dog is six, he’s a German Shepherd-Lab mix. Oh, that’s another thing. Our office is dog friendly. So, before all of this, I would I took him in once or twice when there weren’t other dogs around–he’s not a big fan of having to share his territory. Yeah, but when there weren’t other dogs around I’d bring Caribou in. We have two or three dogs in the office. And I think still when people go into the office, they are bringing their dogs they adopted during quarantine.
Are there any tips you would share with tutors about how to survive the post grad transition? I know it’s been a stressful time for lot of our students who are graduating right in the midst of a pandemic. What sort of wisdom might you share with people about how they can survive this period?
I think my biggest struggle was landing that first job right out of college. I did not know that I was going to be offered a full-time job with my company, they also didn’t have like any openings at the moment when I graduated, so I thought, you know, I have to find a job. I need to have money to support myself. So I actually went on about six or seven job interviews in between the time I graduated to getting the offer from my job. And it’s hard. It was a hard time. And I would not have gotten through it without my friends and my family to lean on. And even having people just tell me, “You’re not going crazy, your resume looks great, why don’t you practice your interview with me, or what do you need me to do?” So really just using all the people and resources that you have. And I think like a big thing I was telling myself is you’re not being annoying. People genuinely do want to help you and they do want to see you succeed. So taking advantage of those resources that you do have, especially if you do work at the Writing Center, there are so many people that’ll help you with your resume and your cover letters and that have been through it. And also just, you know, keeping the hope alive. Like just because you get rejected, once or twice, that just means it wasn’t for you, but there is something out there for you, and staying positive.