Making a difference with marketing

Mohawk grad, Julie De Liberato ‘13, has adapted to change and technology in her field of communications while climbing the ranks in the non-profit sector.

By Meaghan Drury ‘12

When applying to universities in the late 2000s, Julie De Liberato ‘13, was looking to gain both theoretical knowledge through an undergraduate degree and practical knowledge of real-world experiences. That is when she discovered Mohawk’s Public Relations graduate certificate program, that is offered in conjunction with Brock University’s Communication and Media Studies degree.

The first in her family to pursue and complete postsecondary education, she liked the possibility to achieve two things in four years. Julie shares, “It sort of seemed like a no-brainer. The Mohawk College certificate converted theories I was learning in my undergrad into practical skills that would get me a job.”

The structure of the Public Relations program allowed Julie to get to know her “pod” –a group of five students– who worked on assignments and projects together. Compared to the large university lecture hall of over 200 students, this form of learning appealed to Julie and helped her create strong bonds with her classmates at Mohawk.

Since graduating, she’s maintained many of these relationships including her best friend and former roommate who works in the non-profit sector with Julie. “The education is high quality, tailored and personalized. You create relationships with like-minded individuals who are looking to pursue the same thing,” she shares.

Julie particularly liked the internship experience she obtained through Mohawk. “I found Tim Tuck, as the program coordinator, really leveraged his networks to help us find opportunities,” she says.

Years later, Julie has stayed connected to her former professor, reaching out to him when her organization is hiring or returning to the classroom to speak about her experiences to current students.

After graduation, Julie jumped into the world of agency work. However, a year later, she realized it wasn’t the right path for her. She saw entertainment, lifestyle and music brands as personal passions, not something to focus on for her employment. “They weren’t what I wanted to work on 9 to 5 (or 9 to midnight),” she says. So, she switched to the non-profit sector, starting at the YMCA of Greater Toronto, as the marketing coordinator before becoming their public relations specialist.

In these roles, Julie worked on a wide variety of projects and initiatives. “I found that making an impact was something I really valued. I would leave my desk and feel that I made a difference.”

Today, Julie works for Ovarian Cancer Canada as the director of marketing and communications. Working for a smaller non-profit, with a focus on educating, providing supports, and fundraising she has enjoyed the flexibility to experiment with their campaigns and messaging. “Working with non-profits I think there is a lot of misconceptions that you are working for a board and it’s so bureaucratic that you can’t try new things or challenge yourself. But right now, you can test new things to make an impact. You can see how a message sticks to grow a community of support. You can take a new approach to show up for those who need you most.”

Over the past two years, Julie has seen how much technology and adaptability plays a role in her work, even more so than prior to the pandemic. Comparing today’s technologies to what she and her classmates talked about in 2013 Julie says, “We’ve had to learn faster than we ever thought we would. Seeing how fast technology is changing and its impact, we have to roll with it and try to figure it out as we go.”