Meet Baillie Ward, Communication Graduate in ATL
Name: Ballie Ward
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Media Communication Studies
Hometown: Alva, FL
Current City: Atlanta, GA
Job: Marketing Assistant at Benevate
Who do you admire and why?
Mark Zeigler – he is truly an inspiration and has been since I first took his class. His passion extends beyond just teaching to genuinely caring about his students, and some of the lessons he imparted on me during class really helped me on my personal journey with my mental health.
What Jeopardy category could you clear, no problem?
The niche categories about food, pop culture, or short words.
Favorite office snack?
Light bites like a granola bar or an apple.
Best account to follow on social media?
I LOVE following Jon Savitt, he’s a comedian and a writer who puts humorous spins on current events.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
Right before I graduated high school, one of our teacher hosted an annual dinner with the upcoming graduates where each student gets to ask one question about anything they’d like. Before I left, I asked her to describe me in three words. She said, “I would say, ‘not there yet’. But do you know what that means? That you’ll get there one day, and I believe in you.” I’ve taken that advice to heart ever since and I’ve used it as motivation to keep moving forward until I “get there.”
Tell us about your job:
I’m working for two different startup companies based out of the Atlanta Tech Village (ATV) that were both started by the same people. They had the crazy idea of starting two very new, very different companies at the same time, and recently brought me on board to help them with marketing, PR, and client outreach. One company offers a cloud-based software that integrates with current HR platforms to offer employees a unique set of benefits focused on financial wellness, student loan repayment, and down payment assistance. The other company is geared towards government employees by offering a web platform that allows all administrative tasks related towards community development to be streamlined into one web application – this reduces the burden of paperwork and speeds up the development process for individuals applying for low-income housing assistance, HOME or CDBG grants.
What does your average day look like?
I usually get to the office and work on my smaller day-to-day tasks, like monitoring our social media accounts or writing blog posts for both companies. I’ve got some long-term projects going on, like implementing an AdWords campaign, software testing, and finding new leads at local and national companies that could be viable customers for our products. I have meetings a few times a week with another ATV company we’ve partnered with to offer the “financial” part of our financial wellness software.
How did your education prepare for your career?
More than anything, I think being in CCI really fostered this sense of curiosity and love of learning. I had some amazing teachers who always encouraged us to take advantage of unique opportunities, something this job definitely has a lot of. Working for startups requires patience because there will always be unforeseen roadblocks in the way. However, it also requires a love of learning – I’m in this fortunate position where I’m learning the ropes of starting a business alongside my boss because our company is so small. I have new questions every day, and I’m learning so much not only about the startup world, but about the specific industries our companies target, HR and community development.
How has working in your industry changed the way you look at the world?
Working for a tech startup has opened my eyes to how supportive the startup community is. This may be unique to the Atlanta Tech Village (I doubt it) but startup companies are always willing to share knowledge and experiences with one another. I’ve been able to attend seminars and presentations with representatives from companies who graduated from ATV who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure we knew they were there for us with any questions. We all share our struggles with one another, and the ATV is this wonderful collaborative space for entrepreneurs. I think this differs from corporate culture, where it can be seen as kind of cutthroat or “every man for himself.” The values encouraged by ATV can be used in pretty much any situation: be nice, dream big, pay it forward, work hard, and most importantly, play hard.
Share a notable (funny, embarrassing, exciting) experience you’ve had at work:
The best moment working out of the Atlanta Tech Village BY FAR was the day we had a rescue organization, Bosley’s Place, come for a “puppy party.” This group takes in orphaned puppies and cares for them until they’re old enough to go to a foster home or their forever home. They brought about ten puppies to ATV to meet everyone and offer the chance to de-stress through cuddles and hugs from adoptable puppies. They were the cutest, fluffiest, most playful puppies I had ever met, and I can’t wait until they come back!
Who do you look to for inspiration?
I look to my friends for inspiration. I graduated before the majority of my friends, but already they’ve accomplished so much more than I could ever have imagined while they’re still in undergrad. Whenever I’m feeling down, I can always count on them to motivate me and encourage me to keep moving forward.
How do you handle work-life balance?
It’s taken me a long time to realize how important it is to dedicate time to self care, but I think I’ve really improved in that area. I try to work out regularly; I take advantage of the free yoga classes offered at the Atlanta Tech Village a few times a week, and I also try to get outdoors by hiking or exploring the Beltline. I also disabled my work email from my phone, because it got to the point where I was reading my work emails in situations like family dinner or at 1 am when I should be sleeping. Now, while it may mean catching up the next morning but when I leave work, I leave work completely. I spend the rest of my evening catching up with my grandparents, getting dinner with friends, working out, or all of the above. It’s done wonders for my stress, and allows me to focus more on the present moment.
What motivates you?
I try not to set goals for myself based on material possessions or salary, I’ve set intangible goals like happiness or contentment. I’m motivated by the fact that I know I still have a long way to go in my career and there’s so much I still need to learn. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve hit a plateau, because this industry changes on a daily basis. I like knowing that the work I’m doing has a direct positive influence on other people or the community, and that inspires me to search out companies and people who have a similar mindset.
What advice would you give yourself in college?
You will never be the person you want to be if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself emotionally. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially when it comes to your mental health.