Author & Interviewer: Sarah Engel
When she first arrived at Georgia Tech, Marissa Gamboa was interested in pursuing film. An LMC major, she chose threads in media and communication to pursue her goals. Her interest shifted from film to television when she came to understand the demands of film production. Her mentors encouraged her to go to graduate school, and, following her graduation from Georgia Tech in 2017, she went on to receive her master’s degree through Georgia State University’s Mass Communications program. Job hunting became difficult however when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now she works in advertising at Group M, a leading media investment company. I spoke with Marissa to understand her journey from LMC major to corporate advertiser, as well as to gather advice for current undergraduate students.
Though Marissa’s advertising job allows her to work within the film and television industry, she wants to be “at the forefront of what gets shown on television and how people are depicted.” Specifically, as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion of women and minorities. She’s learned that television, in contrast to film, offers more work-life balance and allows more decision-making flexibility.
The journey hasn’t exactly been linear, and she is still trying to break into television, but Marissa has gained valuable experience in the media industry. Her advice to undergraduate students is to consider grad school, because “it really helped me fine-tune what I wanted to do and what it was that I was really passionate about.” But, since grad students work more closely with faculty than in undergrad, students need to research professors and their specialties, in addition to the program itself. She explained, “I was more so looking to study media, behavioral psychology, and media theory. Things like how media affects our society, and the practical implications I can take into the media industry itself.” She was able to do so in her graduate degree program, and to get involved in applicable research fellowships and assistantships. Another tip is to network with peers and professors, and look for professional development groups to join. Marissa, for example, became involved in the Boyd Initiative, a program dedicated to mentoring young black professionals in media. Her program mentor was the person who helped her find her current position. “It’s a lot easier to find a job when you’re networking versus cold applying.” She also advises applicants to research company environments. Despite corporations working to improve work and social experiences, it’s important to hear testimonials from current employees.
Marissa explained how her current role in advertising allows her some freedom in media production: they tell producers what they’re interested in buying, and that’s what gets made. Her company, for example, is looking to increase buying in black-owned and created television. She has also noticed improvements in the way companies treat employees, as they are actively trying to hire African American and Latino advertisers. “As we get more diversity and inclusion within these companies, we’ll start to see more changes too.”
Outside of work, Marissa is interested in personal finance and recently adopted a puppy. She hopes to transition from advertising to television production sometime in the near future.
This story was written by LMC major, Sarah Engel, for Jillann Hertel’s special topics course, Media for Community Building.
Marissa Gamboa is an LMC Alumna and now works in advertising at Group M.
For further inquiries, please contact Senior Academic Professional Jillann Hertel.