Pursue Your Career Aspirations, Even if You Have to Quit a Good Job or Two to Get There

By Kameron Stanko

Influenced by his dad and a realization that he lacked the discipline and will to work independently, Luis Agostini joined the Marine Corps as a combat correspondent in public affairs – the perfect job for a mix of field and office work. He described his job as a combat correspondent as a military photojournalist.

Luis wrote for a military-based publication where he reported on military operations. Luis began mentoring younger combat correspondents in the Marine Corps – which is his favorite job of all. He then worked as a public relations and marketing supporter for the Marine Corps recruiters in Chicago.

Originally from New York but a huge Chicago fan, Luis decided to attend DePaul University to pursue a public relations and advertising degree. After graduation, he landed a job at Edelman for about 4 1/2 years. At Edelman, Luis focused on earned media and earned media strategy. Following a brief stint at Agency H5, Luis then worked on the McDonald’s account at Golin and helped develop the MacCoin campaign.

Since he’s the son of two retired New York City Police Officers, Luis found his passion in the government sector of the communications field. He decided to join the Chicago Police Department to lead communications around police reform. His work at CPD required a lot of crisis and reputation management, especially during the huge Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. Luis also handled the communication on social platforms to counter misinformation during his time in this position. He worked with the CPD for about two years and said it was a great learning experience in how to work under pressure. Luis now works for the Drug Enforcement Administration. His position focuses on public awareness and education about the dangers of street drugs, drug use and drug trafficking.

Luis talked about DE&I in the government section of communications work as it is an upcoming business trend. CPD is the most diverse workplace in all of Luis’s experience. Luis talked about the importance of actions are when working on DE&I initiatives. While companies can say whatever they want, consumers want to see those words backed up through action. Luis believes that “the most important aspect of DE&I is proof points. Organizations can tout and vocalize their support for a cause, but matching your words match the actions and actual data is what people want to see.” DE&I is so important to Luis because he remembers starting off in the field a little worried about if it was for him. By seeing people in leadership like himself, Luis was able to gain the confidence he needed. It helped drive him to a similar position of the people he used to look up to in the field.

Luis stressed that being equitable and ensuring all employees get the same opportunity to deal with big clients is a trend that needs to become more mainstream in the communications field. Even in the government side of communications, unconscious bias may hold POC back compared to their peers so it’s important to work on breaking down these barriers. DE&I in the CPD and DEA means that regardless of skill set, employees should be mentored and given the same opportunity to grow. During his time at Edelman, Luis helped start two employee resource groups for Veterans and for Hispanic and Latino employees. DE&I programs are hard work, but they need to be sustainable to improve the employee relations in the company.

Luis understands the importance of being able to understand, interpret and apply data to your communications plan. This ties into other classes DePaul offers with Matt Ragas and Juliet Stantz – data is what drives a powerful message and allows you to reach your target audience. People who work in communications need to be able to understand quantitative and qualitative data to understand the reasoning behind their campaign or communications plan. The DEA uses data to inform the general public about the dangers of drugs, drug trafficking and drug abuse, but it’s different from other jobs because some of the data is captured through ongoing investigations. Learning to navigate how to keep the general public informed without compromising investigations is something Luis has been learning over the past few months. Communications employees need to know where they can find relevant data as well, whether it’s online or through connecting with peers in the field.

Luis has had his hands in a lot of different pots when it comes to his career, which is inspiring because he was never afraid to take a little bit of a leap for a position that tied into his personal goals and values. Finding your niche is the most important part to being happy and successful in your career. When faced with adversity, Luis stressed the importance of clear communication within the team in order to be able to inform and respond to the general public in a timely fashion. During these times, people in the communications field need to remember that you’re working for a people-based organization and have faith that correct messages will be crafted. Having an outlet where you can share about the stresses of work is a crucial thing because it allows you to decompress. However, finding the right career that fits into your passions and purpose makes handling the stress of the job much easier.

One of the biggest suggestions Luis has is to find your niche and passions within the field, and don’t be afraid to leave a job for one that better suits your career aspirations. Secondly, don’t underestimate the importance of data despite working in the communications career. Using data as the catalyst in your storytelling creates stronger and more convincing messages. Lastly, use your network! Connect with other DePaul University alumni that have a similar career to the one you want. Post on LinkedIn and share work with your connections because you never know – somebody who reads your work may be interested in hiring you. Overall, Luis has had a successful communications career over the last 20 years, and he’s not done yet.

Kameron Stanko is a graduate student at DePaul University studying Public Relations and Advertising. When she isn’t doing homework, she loves to spend time with her cat, George.

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