When 23-year-old Kayla Spelling heads home at the end of a workday, she weaves through tourists buying leather goods, scarves and magnets. She listens for the warning of bike bells and picks up bits of conversations in the language she doesn’t yet understand. The espresso she grabbed that morning from her neighborhood café had long worn off. She woke up this morning in a foreign city, nearly 5,000 miles away from home pursuing an international career many only dream about.
Spelling, a WKU graduate and Imagewest alumna, is working with one of the agency’s former clients in Florence, Italy. Spelling landed a yearlong contract with Lorenzo de’ Medici (LdM) after working for them in the summer of 2012 with Imagewest, a student-run advertising and public relations agency on WKU’s campus. LdM is an Italian international institution that caters to American students and other English-speaking students. While in Florence last summer, Imagewest created a promotional video and digital marketing plan for the university.
“I took a chance and asked if they needed someone to stay on full-time as a videographer, and I’m so glad they did,” Spelling said. She’s always dreamed about working overseas before the trip and is now the videographer and editor for LdM.
Spelling is the only videographer for LdM. She collects footage at a variety of university events to create videos used in corporate settings as well as promotional clips, such as cooking tutorials with professors.
The Covington, Ky., native began her college career in WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting in the broadcasting department, but wanted a career that was less news-based. That is when she found advertising, where she could be creative while still working with video. Her passion for narrative filmmaking and web design was the perfect fit for her new major. She graduated in May 2012, majoring in advertising with a concentration in interactive design and a minor in history.
Heather Garcia, Director of Imagewest, said Spelling has always been a risk-taker. Garcia added that Spelling is driven, ambitious and passionate about her work. She was constantly working on schoolwork as well as freelancing.
“I think Kayla is an inspiration for young people. College is what you make it, and I think she is the perfect example of this,” Garcia said. “She has certainly gotten the most out of her college education because she took the initiative to do so.”
Spelling interned at Imagewest from August 2011 to July 2012, and said the internship helped her prepare for her job at LdM. Imagewest helped her form a professional mindset, and improved her organization, planning and video skills. One of the biggest lessons she learned was how to be determined and assertive.
“I can remember when I started at Imagewest I was pretty timid and didn’t like going up to people to even hand out a business card,” Spelling said. “After working with Imagewest for a year, I really learned to become confident enough in my work and myself to make things happen.”
Imagewest has worked abroad each summer for the past five years, with the goal of preparing students for the global workforce. Eighty percent of Imagewest’s May 2012 graduates were hired a few months after commencement, but Spelling is the first to land an international job.
Close to 500 WKU students studied abroad in the 2011-2012 school year. Like WKU, many universities have study abroad programs. With the exception of special programs like Imagewest, few focus on working abroad. WKU President Gary Ransdell believes that a focus on international reach sets WKU and its graduates apart. Dr. Ransdell said students with a mindset like Spelling’s helps bring WKU’s mission into sharp personal focus.
“International reach is about more than studying abroad, more than making connections with organizations,” Dr. Ransdell said. “It is about getting meaningful experience, changing lives and forming relationships to create a strong sense of global community.”
Spelling says she wants to continue working abroad after her contract with LdM is over.
“Since I’ve already taken the big plunge right after school, I’m hoping that companies will see what I’ve done and there will be some more international work for me,” she said. “My goal has always been to work for a big-time production company and my eyes were always on England, Germany and France because I’ve enjoyed their styles of cinema.”
About Imagewest: Imagewest is a student-run advertising and public relations agency that provides students with real-world agency experience on a local, national and international level. Imagewest allows students to further develop their skills and enhance their portfolio, giving them a competitive edge as they enter the workforce. Imagewest operates year-round and during the summer, the agency travels to work with clients abroad. The agency offers a variety of services such as graphic and web design, branding, consulting, social media, strategic planning, communications, video production, writing, event planning, publicity, research including focus group facilities and much more. Imagewest began in January 2004 and is located on WKU’s campus in the Mass Media and Technology Hall room 331. Any revenues that are generated go directly back into Imagewest to cover expenses such as equipment, scholarships and educational travel. It is part of WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting’s Center for 21st Century Media Program of Distinction, which is approved and funded by Kentucky’s Council on Post-Secondary Education Regional Excellence Trust Fund. For additional information about Imagewest, visit www.wkuimagewest.com. Imagewest can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Contact: Heather Garcia or Brie Logsdon, (270) 745-8915.