Student Story

Sherri Burnett '24 Hones her Marketing Skills with a Full-time Job and Side Businesses

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Sherri Burnett '24 Hones her Marketing Skills with a Full-time Job and Side Businesses

Public Relations and Marketing/Communications major Sherri Burnett is pursuing her degree online from California. Simmons is giving her the tools she needs to further hone her entrepreneurial spirit. Burnett spoke with us about her interest in public relations and how she achieves the ideal work-life balance.

Tell us about your career.

Lately I have been working full-time and running two separate side businesses. My most recent full-time position was Financial Business Consultant (a sales position) at J. Galt Finance Suite, where I contacted small business owners to discuss products that would benefit them financially, such as separating their business credit from their personal credit. I engaged in a lot of networking and spoke to business owners at various events. At this moment, I am transitioning into another full-time role involving finance and technology.

My first side business is a T-shirt printing business called Oddballs N Things, which I run out of my house with my partner. We do custom printing for companies and individuals with specific creative requests. Our motto is "You demand it! We print it!" I founded a second business, Sapphire Real Estate Partners, in which I work with real estate investors to help them find great deals on the market.

Why did you choose to pursue a degree in Public Relations and Marketing/Communications?

I have always worked for marketing companies and I have a passion for public relations, so I thought it would be fruitful to obtain credentials related to these fields. Part of marketing involves creating new relationships with people, and I am good at building lasting relationships. PR has always interested me, and I just love being a part of exciting announcements and new challenges, as well as working alongside clients. As someone who is from Los Angeles, hearing about PR for famous people also piques my interest.

Moreover, almost every job I reviewed required a BA in Communications/Marketing, and currently I only have an Associate of Arts Degree (AA). During the pandemic, I started researching universities and degree programs that I could do from home, as I wanted to maintain my employment and everyday obligations. Until I discovered Simmons, I was not able to find a reputable online program that could meet my academic and professional needs, yet still allow me to maintain a full-time work schedule.

What has your experience been like as a participant in an online degree program?

My classmates are really wonderful and we have a close-knit group with a sense of comradery. We are always helping each other with assignments and coursework. I do not find it lonely or isolating because I have cultivated great relationships online. I really appreciate this type of setting, and have actually formed deeper friendships at Simmons than when I was attending classes in-person at a community college.

As a full-time student with a full-time job, what is your secret to achieving a healthy work-life balance?

It's all about time management and discipline. The great thing about working from home most days is that I can arrange my schedule according to my specific needs. Sometimes I get up at 5am to do homework, and I plan out every weekend to make sure that I prioritize time for school-related projects. I rarely watch television during the daytime, and have become very good at managing my busy lifestyle.

In addition to getting work done, it is important to create time for leisure. As a self-imposed rule, I don't work on Sundays. I also divide up duties with my partner. For instance, I may work Saturday mornings if I need to, but I also share my workload with my partner in our small business endeavors. I do a lot of the marketing aspects of both companies which is not too time-consuming. My partner works on screen printing, in which he uses the print and heat press machines and creates the designs in Photoshop.

During the week, I create a schedule for work, and this way I can factor in work, school, and other activities such as walking my dogs. On the weekends we go on hikes, visit with friends and family, and attend events. Being organized and planning your days out helps realize a good work-life balance.

Why did you choose to attend Simmons?

I like the fact that Simmons is a women-centered environment, and I have a female advisor, Christine Henningson, who is inspiring and supportive. Assistant Professor Briana Martino, who is the Chair of the Department of Communications, is wonderful too. Although I do not identify as LGBTQ, I have many friends who do, and I am pleased that Simmons embraces this community. In class, our conversations can be deeper because the Simmons culture creates a safe environment that is conducive to an open discussion.

During my time at Simmons, I have learned so many other aspects of marketing and I love it. PR is a fun part of my coursework, especially when we write PR scenarios. I learned firsthand what goes into different types of PR.

Simmons is a great fit because my program accommodates more mature students like myself who are busy and reside out of state. In my online program, many of my peers are likewise older and have jobs and families. Even though it's an online program, we have time to interact with our professors. This is an amazing and accessible way to learn.

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