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Goals Beyond the Pitch

June 1, 2022
Kaela Dickerman

Kaela Dickerman graduated from the College of Business in 2018. Five years later, she landed a role as assistant director of Marketing and Communications for UofL’s Alumni Relations Office. Kaela’s path from graduation to career was anything but average. She shares her story of how young alumni should never give up.

Tell me about your undergraduate experience at UofL and how you decided on a marketing degree.

I am originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but I knew I wanted to go out of state to study. When the soccer coach at UofL showed interest in me, I came to visit and immediately fell in love with the campus and city. I loved my four years at UofL [so] after graduating I knew Louisville would be my new home base!

I originally went to school as a biology major, with the intent to go to medical school to become an anesthesiologist. I took one of those “weed out” classes and it weeded me out. I had to look for other options in the spring of my freshmen year and with help from teammates who spoke highly of the business school, I moved over to marketing!

What years were you on the Women’s soccer team? What was being on that team like and what did you learn from being on a college sports team that you have carried forward in your career?

I played for UofL all four years from 2014 to 2018. I’ve played soccer all my life, so it fit well that I got to continue my education and continue playing the sport I love. Being on a team is truly a part of my identity and getting to have 24-ish other people experiencing the same things I was every year allowed me to have a lot of success, both as a student and an athlete.

I learned many things from being on a college sports team, but the biggest things that I’ve been able to recognize in my career are loyalty and teamwork. If you believe in what you’re doing as a career, you’ll feel motivated to stay and you’ll have the confidence to be creative and innovative. If you are able to work with like-minded people towards the same goal, success is not a question of if, but when.

Tell us about your first job out of college. Where are you now and how did your degree prepare you for these opportunities?

When I graduated from UofL in 2018, I knew in my heart my soccer career was not over. I played professional soccer for two and a half seasons in Switzerland and Iceland, up until the beginning of 2021. Trying to get recruited to play on a professional team is a crash course in marketing yourself, so I was able to use a lot of what I learned, especially aspects from a digital marketing perspective.

I started working part-time for UofL Alumni Relations in 2021 and had a lot of opportunities early on to work in the social media marketing side of it. Even a few years out from graduating, there are still moments where I am reminded of the advice I got from some of my marketing courses.

What is your current role at the University and what are your responsibilities?

I am the assistant director of Marketing & Communications in the Alumni Relations office for UofL. Some responsibilities include social media marketing, website maintenance, creative content production, and writing stories for our socials and the UofL Magazine.

I’m excited to get to hopefully engage more young alumni with our socials, website, and events! Even working here for a short period of time I’m learning that alumni relations is more focused on engagement and events than I initially expected. It’s cool to see from the back end some of the plans the office has for keeping our alumni around and connected.

What are your future career goals?

It’s kind of funny, because a soccer season is usually 3-5 months long, depending on where you play. Before getting this job with UofL I never had the opportunity to look at “future” as longer than a few months. All that to say, I’m not sure I’ve decided on my career goals yet! I love that I get to be in a marketing and communications role here at UofL, because I think it combines a few loves: marketing, content creation, and of course, UofL!

What advice do you have for young alumni?

After spending a little over two years playing professional soccer – also known as, not getting any professional work experience – I had incredible difficulties finding a job. Even for entry-level positions, I didn’t qualify based on previous experience. It was really hard and sometimes I regretted playing professionally and not immediately starting a job after graduating. BUT, even after months of searching, I was able to find a place to land. Throughout the search, I had many moments of doubt that I’d ever find a job. To the young alumni who may be in the same position, there is a spot for you in the working world, and although it may not feel like it right now, it will. Easy for me to say now, but I know it’s a very difficult path and all I can say is, you got this, don’t give up!