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HERstory: Sophia Yee

Ad Ops Associate @ Wunderkind

Welcome back to HERstory, our ongoing series where we delve into the careers and experiences of women making their mark in the world of marketing. Today, we’re chatting with Sophia Yee, an Advertising Operations Associate at Wunderkind.

Sophia began her journey as a student exploring various marketing internships, and her story is a testament to the power of experiential learning and the pursuit of personal understanding. Her experiences with Calvin Klein, among others, have shaped her understanding of the broader marketing landscape. It led her to discover that marketing can be both analytical and creative, setting her off on a journey to find her niche.

Sophia is just at the beginning of her career, yet she’s brimming with insights on the importance of internships, balancing strengths and passions, and standing out in a competitive field. She discusses her daily routine and tools of the trade as an Ad Ops Associate, and her perspective on effective cross-team collaboration is worth noting for anyone hoping to excel in a fast-paced marketing environment.

You gained broad marketing experience through internships while still studying, which exposed you to everything from social media to PR. How did these experiences shape your career path and influence your decision to work full-time in certain areas of marketing?

I cannot stress enough how important internships are for learning about the industry you’re interested in. My most influential internship experience was at Calvin Klein as a Marketing and CRM Intern in their Shanghai office. The Marketing team there was very comprehensive because the PR, Social Media, CRM, and Event Planning Managers all constituted one team. That gave me the opportunity to learn more about these different aspects of the overarching Marketing umbrella. It opened my eyes to the reality that a Marketing position can be very analytical (such as my CRM Internship at the time, which required me to pull pivot tables and work through hundreds of excel sheets), but it can also be very creative (such as bringing a concept to life through social media graphics and videos).

At the time, I was unsure whether I preferred a more technical or more creative role. Thus, I embarked on a journey to find out! I took on Social Media Marketing and Digital Asset Management internships over the next few years. Through these roles, I learned that I’m definitely not the most creative person and therefore probably won’t be thriving in graphic design or social media, but I also learned that I love to manage campaigns and projects. These realizations about myself came slowly but surely, and I don’t regret any of the work I put in to find out.

I’m still at an early point in my career where I’m dipping my toes in the water and learning about what I’m good at and what I love. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but what you love and what you’re good at can be different things, so finding that in-between point is the goal. And that’s what internships can do for you. I’m still learning—and hope to never stop learning—but my current role in Ad Tech has been a great way for me to watch my organizational and analytical skills flourish whilst still being in a creative (ish) field.

Standing out as an intern in the competitive field of marketing can be challenging. Could you share what key qualities, skills, and approaches you believe an intern should cultivate to differentiate themselves? 

As an Intern, the most important thing you can bring to the table is a hard-working attitude. When you’re first starting out in your career, you’re not going to have experience or expertise, and that’s okay. Nobody expects you to and you certainly shouldn’t pretend that you do.

What you can have is grit.

Going into any internship role with a hard-working, go-getter attitude is the best way to thrive in the role and to be respected by the people on your team. Get to the office early, eagerly say yes to any opportunity presented to you, and complete your work with diligence. Most importantly, hold yourself accountable to showing up with this attitude every single day, not just on the days you’re in a good mood and feel like it.

Can you walk us through a typical day for you as an Advertising Operations Associate at Wunderkind? What are some of the specific tools or software that you regularly use in your role to manage and optimize campaigns?

My typical day as an Ad Ops Associate begins with checking my emails and running point on ongoing campaigns to make sure nothing catastrophic happened overnight. This part of my day is my favorite because it really grounds me and reminds me that the work I’m putting in is seeing progress every day, no matter how slow it may feel at times. Then, I start to tick things off of my to-do list! Some of my most common to-do list items include setting up and trafficking tags for new campaigns, generating screenshot decks, and corresponding with clients about nuances regarding their creative display units.

The most frequently used platforms for my role include IndexExchange, Google DV360, and Looker. If you’re looking to break into the field of Programmatic Advertising, I’d highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these.

Advertising Operations can often involve a lot of cross-team collaboration. How do you effectively collaborate with other teams to ensure the success of a campaign?

For sure! A big part of my role involves communicating and working with the Ads Design team at Wunderkind, who are incredibly talented and great to work with. They design and build out the creatives that go live for our campaigns. My job is to hand off the necessary assets to them, and let them create the magic!

I think the key to effectively collaborating across teams is to always hold onto the mindset that the person you are speaking to is equally as busy—if not more—than you. This fosters an environment of respect, which is the most important thing when working with other teams, especially when they are operating on a different timeline or schedule. Everyone’s busy, so respect for their time, their work, and their space should be upheld at all times.

Finally, for someone who aspires to work in Advertising Operations, what skills or qualities do you think are most important to develop?

The world of Advertising is very fun but also requires you to be someone who is willing to step up. Challenges arise every day, and you have to be on top of it in a real-time setting because the campaigns (and the money being spent on them!) aren’t going to wait around for you to do your job. Thus, I think the three most important skills/qualities to develop when entering this field are timeliness, eagerness, and a growth mindset.

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