Editor-In-Chief: Al Anderson
    Feature Editors: Marika Docous, Karen Roberson
    Sponsored Content Editor: Tina Barni

    The Shortlist welcomes pitches for stories pertinent to advancing marketing and business development in the architectural, engineering, and construction fields. Email pitches to Al Anderson.

    The Shortlist

    SMPS SFBAC 2020 Student Scholarship Award Winner: Muskaan Agarwal

    Please join us in congratulating rising UC Berkeley sophomore, Muskaan Agarwal, as the recipient of the 2020 SMPS SFBAC Student Scholarship.

    How did you hear about SMPS?

    I recently learned about SMPS while researching growth opportunities for the startup I’m working with. I love the atmosphere of local companies and finding dynamic ways to improve startup culture. The infrastructure of small businesses, while limited in some ways, invites room for experimentation. I was researching marketing services local to the Bay Area and that’s where I came across SMPS! I explored the website for a good hour or two, reading complimentary research reports and learning about upcoming events—forgetting about my initial research because I was so drawn into the array of opportunities on my screen. When I came across the “explore our chapters” page, I immediately headed to the San Francisco chapter to see how I could get involved and that's where the student offerings were posted. I knew this scholarship would be perfect for me!

    What are your professional and educational goals for the next year and how do you think SMPS will help you accomplish these goals?

    My goals start and end with curiosity. Throughout high school I heard “you’re too young” more than I can count. I was challenged with finding outlets to explore my inherent curiosity because I felt doubted by my peers, yet that made me chase after opportunities even more. Now, as an undergraduate student, I let nothing get in the way of my thirst to learn. I’m on track to earn a dual degree in Finance and Data Science from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and College of Letters and Sciences respectively.

    I’m itching to find creative solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Within the following year, I plan to push my knowledge of human-design interaction by completing the Design Thinking certification from IDEOU. I love to find opportunities like these that challenge me to learn with a hands-on approach. Simultaneously, I’ve started my own design projects and am currently building an app that brings essential financial literacy knowledge from financiers and bankers to little children in a fun, insightful way. By using resources at Berkeley Skydeck and constantly developing knowledge about information systems, I’m hopeful that I can officially launch my app within the next year.

    How do I think SMPS will help me? By introducing me to an entirely new community of industry professionals that cultivate innovation. When I first read about this scholarship, what stood out to me the most was the many networking opportunities I would gain access to. I’m excited to talk to an array of professionals in architecture, engineering, and design and grow my mindset on how to spur my thoughts into action! Every year, my new year's resolution is to find a new community of people to discover more from and learn about. I think SMPS could be just that community for me in 2021.

    Why are you interested in a career in professional services marketing in the architectural, construction, or related industry?

    Design intrigues me. I love to see how people’s lives are visibly improved when they are offered extraordinary services. Our lives are designed for comfort and efficiency whether we know it or not. Let’s take a look at architecture. The most beautiful homes are designed by architects that give meaning to their blueprints. A hallway is not just an empty corridor connecting one room to another, but a place of human interaction where parents run behind their kids laughing and playing. I’m interested in a career that maximizes human-design interaction and brings efficiency to people everywhere.

    This is particularly why a career in professional services marketing excites me. The A/E/C industry is always evolving, and new technology invites us to explore a higher level of efficiency and relationship building. I consider myself a multifaceted individual because I have interests in design, technology, finance, and education. At the core of me is a desire to connect people to services, and services to people. In professional services marketing, you’re not selling a “box,” but instead a relationship, by helping lead people to services that improve their day to day lives.

    Let’s go back to that hallway. How could we use painting services to enhance the vibrancy of the walls? Could an electrician perhaps brighten up the dim ceiling lights? These are the questions that race through my mind constantly. Professional services marketing offers me opportunities to explore these questions and find people that are excited to find answers, just like me.

    What leadership roles and activities are you involved in to prepare for your career?

    Leadership is about bringing people—nay, stories—together. As a leader, I strive to create environments where people are motivated to grow, to push people outside of their comfort zone and create a catalyst for change together. I was recently elected as the captain of my collegiate dance team, UC Berkeley Azaad. My peers voted me in as captain, not due to dancing ability, but because of the fearlessness I present against the challenges I am faced with. Due to COVID-19, the upcoming dance season is in question and many of our dancers plan on not returning to campus this fall. I’m working tirelessly to explore communication networks, adapt to online circumstances, and effectively host practices online. While this may not be directly related to my career, this leadership role is all about designing a team that remains well-connected together or far apart—an essential skill I need to hold for any future career. Throughout this past year, I was also hired as a growth consultant for YSplit, a local tech startup in Silicon Valley. My work with YSplit, as their youngest intern, allowed me to explore the engineering workplace while directly interacting with students on Berkeley’s campus that used this service to solve their off-campus living needs. Most recently, I crafted a summer internship for myself at Traveling Spoon, a small business that specializes in connecting travelers with authentic cooking experiences all over the world. The message of this company spoke volumes to me and my passion for relationship-building, so I knew I had to get involved.

    Allison Halvorson ([email protected]) is the Communications Manager for McMillen Jacobs Associates, a multidisciplinary firm providing a comprehensive array of technical services to the heavy civil, underground, and water resources markets. She has over 20 years of broad-based marketing and communications experience.

    Return to list