Happy 2021! With optimism and excitement for spring semester, check out what’s new in the new year for community colleges.
3 Remarkable Facts About the Amazing Mind of Media Prefs
Blog January 06, 2021
People of Interact: Little-Known Details About Media Prefs’ Jamie Wagner!
Most only know our Jamie Wagner as the kind heart and sharp mind behind Media Prefs– Interact’s custom survey focused on community college student communication and media preferences. She works with community colleges across the country on marketing, survey distribution, and analyzing results…
But what they don’t know is…
- How did Jamie overcome her fear of public speaking?
- What is the one and only state she hasn’t visited in the U.S.? (Hint: it’s not Alaska or Hawaii!)
- That her pet fish are secretly superheroes!
In this blog, meet Jamie, and learn how she brings her smarts and her heart to serve our community college partners.
New Frontiers in Marketing with Media Prefs
Jamie recalls when she was introduced to Media Prefs in 2016. “I immediately latched onto the product and loved teaching others how to utilize it.” Media Prefs is a unique offering from Interact. The service helps colleges gather valuable marketing data by surveying the experts… students!
“I’ve worked with colleges who have used the tool for years,” says the Executive Director of Media Prefs. “Many have said that it’s a staple in how they construct their marketing plan year after year.”
What Jamie loves about her job? That moment when partners “light up” when Media Prefs helps them find solutions to the issues they’ve been facing.
Sharing the Media Prefs LOVE
And this year, the love is real. For colleges who have been impacted by the coronavirus, participation in the Media Prefs survey is free.
So far, Jamie has helped +360 colleges from 25 states gain access to free Media Prefs data this fall. And, there are more coming for the Spring survey kicking off in mid-February.
“It’s so rewarding to hear the gratitude from colleges that otherwise could not afford to participate in the survey in a ‘normal’ year,” beams Jamie.
She says one college shared they “fell in love” with the product after a Media Prefs presentation at an NCMPR conference. But, they never had the budget to participate… until now.
According to the maven of Media Prefs, “We’re thrilled to be able to provide this to colleges. It’s another tool in their toolbox as they navigate this unique and challenging time.”
Media Prefs Advocacy for Stronger Communities
Media Prefs also teamed up with state-leadership this year. The effort is helping get the word out to all their community colleges and to provide additional levels of aggregated data for state-use.
Jamie is helping crunch high-level data about food, housing, and financial insecurities for select states. Institutions can use these insights to advocate for students. And, it helps to better target audiences in state-led initiatives.
“Most state leadership groups say they’ve never had access to this type of data before,” says Jamie. “It’s humbling to be able to provide this for them.”
The Moxie Behind the Media Prefs Master
Jamie strives to bring positivity and order to her work. She prides herself on bringing meaningful services and genuine support and encouragement to the partners she serves.
“I’ve always enjoyed positions where I’ve been able to help people, especially students,” Jamie says. “My current role helps deliver the tools marketers need to better support, encourage, recruit, and retain students. I love that.”
Where does she get the strength to support hundreds of community colleges? She credits the Interact family as the wind beneath her wings.
“My coworkers are a continual source of inspiration,” shares the team player. “Their dedication to our company values and their perseverance of top-notch deliverables and service makes me thrilled to be a part of this team. They push me to keep bettering myself.”
Public Speaking Jitters, No More!
Jamie also credits the Interact family for helping her get over a major fear.
“I’ve always thrived on being a behind-the-scenes person, and public speaking used to terrify me,” confides Jamie. In fact, she says, “I once faked an illness to get out of presenting in my college speech class!”
Now, she lists speaking as one of her strengths at Interact. She’s presented at events with organizations including NCMPR and the Adult Learner Institute, and more webinars than she can count. For rising above her comfort zone, she thanks one coworker in particular.
“Angela [Carollo] is always encouraging me (AKA, pushing me!) to step out and share this data more publicly,” says the grateful public speaker.
The two make a powerhouse presentation team and love to share in Angela’s coveted “push-ups & power poses” warm-ups, pre-presentation.
For Jamie, working together helps boost her confidence and her creativity:
“I’ve come to appreciate the value of collaboration and the renewed energy it can bring.”
Dedication to Education
Jamie has over a decade of marketing experience. Yet, what many don’t know is that she also worked at a community college for a few years early in her career. She helped support Lone Star College in the Houston-Texas area, working in the business and purchasing offices for both LSC-Tomball and the System Office.
“I have always had a passion for helping students,” Jamie says. Despite coming from a family of teachers, she realized early on that teaching wasn’t her calling. Instead, she found customer service and volunteer positions within school districts and higher education. And here she is today, helping marketing leaders give their community college students a leg up.
“Working with community colleges both on the college level and the system level has exposed me to the environment that our clients face daily,” says Jamie. She is grateful for the ability to better understand and empathize with her clients.
Jamie has also worked in a variety of industries, positions, and states! She’s run data entry in a photo lab, worked in logistics in a food manufacturing plant, and even ran a senior group at a hospital.
According to the Jill of many trades, “Each position has refined a bit of who I am professionally.”
Midwest at Heart with a Love for Exploring
Jamie grew up in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin, where she was a straight-A student who loved sports.
“The Midwest has a reputation for working hard and being friendly, and I hope to always check both of those boxes in my daily life,” says Jamie.
She also has a penchant for exploring. She has traveled to over 15 countries and 49 states… The only one she’s missing, in case you’re wondering, is South Carolina!
After the coronavirus has passed and her kiddos get a bit older, she plans to share her travel bug with her family.
“Traveling, especially internationally, has always humbled and centered me, and made me appreciate how truly awesome our world is.”
Jamie is a proud mama of two rambunctious kiddos… three, if she counts her husband, who fits right in with the kids most days. They keep her on her toes with non-stop chasing, racing, legos, and superheroes.
“My boys are my world, and they keep me busy from sun up to sun down!” shares Jamie. Evan is five, and Alex is two and a half. For Jamie, an ideal day is spent outside with her boys, exploring new neighborhood parks or hiking trails. She loves to grill up dinner, topped by making s’mores over the campfire. Or, snuggling in for a movie night.
The family also enjoys the adventures of Lightning and Cruz, their two pet fish who are just as super as their amazing names.
Stay on the Sunny Side
As far as getting through the pandemic and staying positive, Jamie says, “It’s been a wild ride!”
At first, adapting to the work-from-home lifestyle was a struggle. But, she’s found the silver lining is connecting with video chatting: “I hope that part doesn’t go away post-pandemic.”
For the mom and media guru, the best advice she can share is to stay on the sunny side of life.
“I’ve tried to surround myself with things that make me smile — particular people, movies, podcasts, or music!” says Jamie.
“The best advice I could pass on to others would be to stay positive and adaptable.”
You can also check out these Media Prefs blogs:
- 10 things you should know about your students from Media Prefs!
- Media Prefs: What We’ve Learned from Nearly 30,000 Students This Year
- What Media Companies Don’t Want You to Know
Blog written in collaboration with Rachel Rosen-Carroll, Interact Copywriter. For fun, Rachel reads style guides and the dictionary. (She prefers The American Heritage Dictionary… We wouldn’t make this up.)
When she isn’t writing feature stories about inspiring community college alums, she’s working on her YA novel, short stories, and poetry, and she has been published by various lit journals. Ask her questions or suggest word nerd blog ideas at email@example.com.