Ashley Villanueva's Career Lattice

Advancing At Berkeley: Ashley Villanueva's Career Lattice

What roles have you had throughout your time at Berkeley? 

As a staff member, I’ve held the following marketing/communications roles: 

  • Social Media Coordinator, Office of Undergraduate Admissions

  • Communications Specialist, Student Affairs Communications 

  • Web and Graphics Manager, Real Estate Division

  • Digital Communications Lead, University Health Services (Tang Center) 

  • Marketing Manager, Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership 

What factors do you think helped you land positions in areas so different from one another like the Tang Center and the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership?

A few factors have helped me materialize these opportunities: 

  1. My professional network: With the encouragement and support of my supervisors, I make a conscious effort to be involved on campus beyond my day-to-day work responsibilities. For example, I participate in staff groups like APASA, Cal Women’s Network, and WorkFit and also attend events like the annual Berkeley Communications Conference (BC2) and the Next Opportunity at Work (NOW) Conference. Through these experiences, I’ve been able to meet and connect with supportive colleagues and join informative listservs. 

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  1. The rising need for communications and the importance of authentic storytelling: When I first started working at Berkeley, there weren’t nearly as many marketing/communications positions open on campus. And the ones that existed had to wear a lot of different hats. With the increased need for storytelling in the digital age, there has been an increase in the amount and diversity of dedicated creative positions opening up across campus.

  2. Always having application materials ready: There have been many moments where I’ve self-selected out of applying for a potential new opportunity. It can be challenging for me to overcome imposter syndrome and unapologetically recognize my own accomplishments, especially as a woman and a person of color. I’ll see an intriguing career opportunity and think: “I think I can do most of those things, but I’ve never done it at that scale. That’s a leap” or “But no one there looks like me or has a similar background; how will I thrive?” One thought leads to another and then moment to apply has passed. But overtime, I’ve started to reframe that narrative by building a supportive network that encourages and builds me up whenever I face self-deprecating doubt. Every couple of months, I work on my application material and portfolio. For example, I keep a running document of a) job descriptions that are interesting to me to reference for future resume building and b) recent projects described using the STAR method for future interview preparation

You were a participant in the highly selective Leadership and Career Enhancement Program for Staff of Color (LCEP). What was the biggest lesson you learned in LCEP and how has it impacted you? 

This is difficult to answer because there are so many lessons to choose from! LCEP was facilitated by Linda Williams and Karen Young and one of the first quotes they shared with us was: “When your life is on course with your purpose, you are powerful. And though you may stumble, you will not fall.” This resonates deeply with me because my personal and professional goals/development are very much intertwined and build on each other. I am lucky to experience this at UC Berkeley because while the journey will have its challenges, I’m surrounded by the resources and allies to help me succeed. UC Berkeley offers a wide variety of professional development resources and is filled with experts who are willing to share advice and best practices if we just reach out and ask! I feel very grateful to have been selected in the first official cohort. 

What do you do to keep growing as a professional? 

To continue growing as a professional, I subscribe to a handful of newsletters and Facebook groups, which keep me apprised of the latest and greatest in the marketing/communications industry. I build in time throughout the work week to read and/or apply my new learnings. I also make sure to stay actively involved in community organizations and nonprofits—both inside and outside of UC Berkeley. I take the initiative to explore ways to engage in longer-term learning, like UC Berkeley Extension courses and Rockwood Leadership Institute retreats. Lastly and most importantly, I’ve developed informal mentorship and “fem”torship groups with goal-oriented friends across various sectors, age groups, and backgrounds. Shout out to my “Asian Ladies,” a group of Asian American women from various universities, who I’ve leaned on over the years to vent, seek advice, and share wins. They help me stay accountable, consider different perspectives, and reach new heights in my development. 

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Any final words of wisdom to staff looking to grow their careers at UC Berkeley?

UC Berkeley is a place where employees have the potential to tap into both personal and professional development. Be open to different possibilities and opportunities that may enliven your “whole person” leadership—whether it be participating in a staff affinity group/organization, volunteering with the students/community, or attending conferences/workshops to refine your expertise. The process is rarely linear, but with consistent intention towards your goals and a clarity of purpose, abundant growth is possible. 

If you’d like to advance your career with today’s methods read about the corporate lattice model- here

Ashley Villanueva is the Marketing Manager within the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership. They’ve been a part of the UC Berkeley community for 7 years. To set-up an informational interview email or connect on LinkedIn.

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