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Meet Trailblazer Katie Kelly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Kelly.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Katie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I graduated from the Univesity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in finance back in 2015. I knew I never truly wanted to go into the field of finance, I have always had an entrepreneurial and creative spirit about me. I felt as though a degree in finance would give me a better chance at getting a job right out of college that I could then somehow find my niche in the “adult” world.

My first job out of college was a contracted auditor job, and that’s where I spent hours on social media. I started my food blog, now called bits + bites because sitting at a desk staring at excel spreadsheets all day was not my forte. After my contract was over, I was unemployed for a few months but quickly found another finance job working for a worldwide digital ad agency.

This was my first real taste of advertising and a more creative line of work. However, still wanting to explore my desire for something more out of my career, I sat down one day and on a piece of paper, I wrote down all of my interests. Completely unorganized, yet somehow through writing random words, phrases, and connecting the dots, I realized that there was money to be made in social media.

That is what lead me to Oak St. Social, and I am so beyond happy that it did. I love that it is a start-up company founded by two amazing women. Everyone who works for Oak St. Social is so likeminded, yet so different in all the best ways. Overall, I feel as though I finally found a group of motivated people with the same entrepreneurial spirit as myself, and that alone is a great feeling. Not to mention the line of work is now giving me the sense of fulfillment I have been striving to achieve since graduation.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It hasn’t been the smoothest of roads. I think to graduate with a finance degree, there was this underlying feeling of what I “should” be doing and the comparison of myself with others who also graduated with a similar degree. But, I’ve never been one to go along with what other people think I “should” be doing.

Between the internal and external struggles, the biggest takeaway and the advice I would give would be that you have to listen to your gut and you are living on your own timeline and nobody else’s. You can’t compare yourself to others no matter how difficult that may be. Ultimately, you are living the life you create for yourself, so do you want to create a life that others think is best for you, or do you want to create a life that you know is best for you? Here’s a hint, the answer is the latter.

But, I do have a great support system within my family, friends, and co-workers. No matter what, having that support is so vital to any success. So another piece of advice, surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Oak St. Social – what should we know?
I am a Project Manager for Oak St. Social. The company is a full-service social and digital marketing agency. We work with companies and brands from large to small helping them take their business to the next level. Personally, I curate content for our clients. This entails picking photos that our amazing photography team captures, writing copy, speaking with clients and always researching the newest trends. Whether it be Instagram updates or a new food trend, that’s one of the most exciting parts of the job.

I think what I’m most proud of and what sets us apart are one in the same, and that’s the fact that we are a company of all driven, intelligent women.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
I love a good memoir, I find a good chunk of my inspiration for living my best life from them. A few of my favorites are:

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I love How I Built This podcast by NPR, the stories are so incredibly inspiring. Also, My Favorite Murder by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. That one might be strange, but putting my love for true crime aside, those two women are so open and honest about their feelings, how things impact their mental health and that has helped me be more self-aware of my feelings.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Ashlee O’Neil Photo, Helen Bekrun

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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