“CRAZY THINGS CAN HAPPEN IF YOU TAKE SOME RISKS”

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Matt Black lays down the law about starting your professional life

We’re switching up this internview! Instead of talking to an intern, today Mike is talking to Matt Black, a Senior Information Architect here at SALT. Check it out for a professional’s take on college and careers!

MIKE

All right, Matt, so you’re a hotshot grown-up now, but tell us a little bit about your time in college. Where did you go, and how would you say the overall experience was?

 MATT

I went to school in Reno, at the University of Nevada. Having a decent education was kind of my only way to get out of the state, and that state school was really the only one that was available to me. I was in the Air Force for 4 years out of high school, so I was looking for a school that would pick up the GI Bill and give me what I needed to get out of Nevada eventually.

Just knowing how important a college education was is what eventually led me here to SALT. I was interviewing at a few different places, but SALT’s mission is what really hit home with me. A lot of people plan out college based on their grades and some other, loftier things. My choice was determined by proximity and desperation; I didn’t have the deep pockets back home or anything like that to go anywhere else.

 MIKE

Seems like it’s worked out well for you now! So what happened after you were all done at good ol’ U of Nevada? Did you have a job right after graduation?

MATT

I was a print journalism major in school, and I ended up falling in with a print advertising crowd when I was working on the paper. That’s really where I figured out what I wanted to do. I was just writing a column at the time, ended up putting together a few ads by chance, and loved it.

After graduation, my girlfriend of the time (now wife) ended up getting accepted to BU Law School. We were both desperate to get out of Reno, so when she asked me if I wanted to come I was just like, “Give me two seconds to pack.” Coming here, I ended up writing a bunch of crazy cover letters trying to find a job.

My favorite one said that I would wash the hiring manager’s dog for a chance to interview, and it worked. Little tip for all you youngsters: be different with your cover letters. People will read them, and people usually have senses of humor. That’s ultimately what got me my first job working as a catalog producer at this educational company in Cambridge.

 MIKE

And after that, where’d you end up? I heard through the grapevine that you were working at Digitas for a little bit…

 MATT

You heard right. Digitas was awesome, and crazy. It was all the smartest, most creative people you could find all put into one box. All ad agencies tend to be a bit like that; everyone is fun to hang out with and some really great work ends up getting produced. A few late nights, but nothing really worth complaining about. You can’t be afraid to work hard and take initiative if you want to move up through the ranks.

 MIKE

I’ll keep that in mind. Now it seems like things turned out pretty well for you. But looking back, was there anything that you would do differently during those early years if you could?

 MATT

Going back early, early, early, I would’ve paid way more attention in high school. I come from a farm town, so back then, the two paths you were going to end up on were go help your dad on the farm or go into the military. If I paid more attention in school, I think I could’ve just started the path I eventually found myself on a few years earlier.

 MIKE

If you could only give a single piece of advice to new graduates looking to get into a similar field, what would it be?

 MATT

Well, it’s kind of two-fold. Like I said before, don’t be afraid of working hard, but also don’t be afraid of taking chances. I grew up on a farm, and now I’m working as a professional on the East coast. Some crazy things can happen if you’re willing to take a few risks.

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