Andrea Parins began her journey with EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge in an unexpected way – working as a student writer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering External Relations.
She wrote features for the department’s various print and online publications, specifically focusing on student life. When she came across an open position for outreach coordinator on the 2009 hybrid vehicle team, she decided to take the plunge.
“I was excited to join the team and learn about hybrid vehicle technologies, something in which I had no previous experience,” she said. In order to write about the team’s progress and updates, she had to understand what they were working on.
One of Andrea’s favorite moments of the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge competition was being able to travel with the team and getting the opportunity to work on the vehicle.
“During the competitions when everyone was busy working to get the vehicle ready, I was able to offer a helping hand in whatever needed to get done,” she said. “From testing welds for leaks and soldering control panels to applying decals to the car, the hands-on work with the team was very exciting!”
Her work as the outreach coordinator has come full circle as Andrea is now a marketing professional in the automobile industry.
“My involvement in the EcoCAR competition directly correlated with my first job after graduation and still continues to influence my work today,” she said.
Andrea is currently the social media coordinator for GMR Marketing, where she supports social media marketing programs for various clients and industries. Her job has brought her many exciting opportunities, including trips to NASCAR races and all four Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions. “It’s very exciting, as sports and social media complement each other and provide great opportunities to engage passionate automotive fans,” she said.
EcoCAR gave Andrea experience in publishing content on behalf of an organization, which helped develop her impressive social media skills. Social media was just picking up steam when Andrea joined the UW-Madison team. It quickly became a key tool in gaining media attention and community awareness for the project.
“My year as Outreach Coordinator was a great year for the social media industry, and the early experience I gained as the voice of the ‘brand’ or ‘team’ was something unique to other professionals my age,” said Andrea. “At that time, brands were still figuring out social media, so not many young professionals had experience with social media for brands.”
Andrea notes that the work she accomplished as outreach coordinator for her team prepared her for projects she sees on a regular basis in marketing today.
“I would highly recommend college students to participate in AVTC’s,” Andrea said. “The professional experience and relationships have greatly impacted my career and continue to influence my work.”