Alumna Kelly Morales Offers Insight into the Beauty Industry

Alumna Kelly Morales Offers Insight into the Beauty Industry

Alumna Kelly Morales shares her best tips about working in the beauty industry

By: Jacqueline Borrego

Today’s alumni spotlight shines onto 2014 graduate Kelly Morales. Morales majored in communication studies and minored in graphic design. Soon after graduating, she worked as a content marketer for PeerSpace. After exploring other opportunities, she decided to go back to school to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and study merchandise marketing. Currently, Morales works as the merchandise coordinator for Sephora.


Q: What sparked your interest in studying communication studies?

Kelly Morales: I was interested in majoring in communication studies after I took an Asian communication class with Professor Evelyn Ho. I enjoyed being able to understand the reasons behind why we communicate the way we do. I also thought it would be useful for any career path I decided to take.


Q: How did you start working in the beauty industry?

Kelly Morales: I’ve always been interested in fashion and beauty. However, I never really thought about it as a career path until after graduation when I was doing more research on what I really wanted to do. I got my start in the beauty industry by landing in internship at a natural skincare company. By having that on my resume, beauty companies were more willing to hire me because I had knowledge about working in the industry.


Q: Can you explain your role as a merchandise coordinator at Sephora? What does your normal day at Sephora looks like?

Kelly Morales: I work specifically with Sephora’s Canadian site. My role involves working aside the buyers of Sephora and beauty brands in order to get all the assets needed to make merchandise go live on our website. I also work closely with the email marketing team to make sure all merchandise is labelled and merchandised correctly. Every day is a little different! One of my main roles is to problem solve, so if there is something that isn’t live on time on our website or our products don’t look as they should, I’m the person that resolves these issues.


Q: Why did you decide to attend FIDM?

Kelly Morales: After graduating, I had a job doing content marketing. After having this job, I soon realized that it wasn’t what I was interested in. However, my mom attended FIDM, and I decided to check out its website. I looked into its merchandising program and decided to give it a shot. It was only a yearlong program since I had already completed my undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco. I decided to go into merchandising because I believe that merchandise is important for every company. I learned a lot in a year, and it helped me get the position I’m in now.


Q: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?

Kelly Morales: My biggest challenge, so far. was knowing where I wanted to go in my career. It can be a scary thought for any recent graduate because you don’t know what direction you want to move into. I think it’s all about taking a chance and following your gut. Before I started working at Sephora, I was working at a small beauty startup, and I thought I was going to work there for a while. However, an opportunity with Sephora came up and the thought of moving to a bigger company was really scary. In the end, it’s all about taking a chance.


Q: What tips can you offer to students hoping to work in the beauty industry?

Kelly Morales: I think it’s important to get your foot in the door somewhere, even if it means getting an unpaid internship or a part-time retail position in the beauty industry. A lot of beauty companies are looking that that type of knowledge. You don’t need to be a beauty fanatic. However, it’s important to have passion and willingness to learn, especially for an entry-level position.


For more information on Kelly Morales, please refer to her LinkedIn profile here.






What Can I Do with My $240,000 Degree? From a Confused College Senior to a Budding Career at Top-Tier Tech Company 

What Can I Do with My $240,000 Degree? From a Confused College Senior to a Budding Career at Top-Tier Tech Company

 by Ashley Cook

Every soon-to-be college graduate can relate to the panic that sets in right before graduation; the odd mix of anxiety and excitement toward the next chapter in life. USF Communication Studies alumna Hannah Decker, class of 2016,  remembers this feeling all too well. During a recent interview, Decker reflected on her-post graduation journey from being a confused communication studies senior at the University of San Francisco to landing a position with San Francisco’s Yelp:

Describe how you felt about your next steps following graduation from USF.

 Decker: I was nervous. After high school, I knew that I was going to college, but no one tells you what exactly you need to do after college. I had to decide for myself and make it happen. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or where I was going to go. I was lucky to have come across a career opportunity at Yelp via USF’s Spring Career Fair.  It was such a relief to secure a job before walking in May. Though I felt I got lucky, I worked very hard to find the position and to prepare myself for success in a well-known and influential organization such as Yelp.


How has your education prepared you for your career?

 Decker: At first, I thought communication studies was the same as communications. I was expecting to learn about media operations but I quickly realized the two are different fields of study. However, I fell in love with the major, faculty and course subjects. Many skills and concepts I mastered as communications studies scholars are extremely applicable in the workplace. I believe that my studies help me to master active listening, understanding and critiquing power dynamics and basic human communication in the workplace. Furthermore, I am able to think critically about situations, which leads to better success when working with clients.


How does the 9-5 workday differ from a day at USF? What is the most difficult part of this transition?

 Decker: One of the biggest adjustments I am facing is adjusting to the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. I am still learning how to readjust my personal life around my work life. I come into the office and check my emails/schedules, and then I complete calls and do demos or “pitch on the fly”. Professional work life is very demanding, so it is important to manage your time wisely. Furthermore, I had to learn how to budget in order to afford all of my living expenses. I can’t eat out and get my nails done all the time because I have to pay my bills!


What does your position entail and what do you admire most about the company and your role? 

Decker: I currently work in the sales for the Yelp Wi-Fi service. In this position I pitch, cold call–contacting a potential client for the first time–and walk clients through the purchasing process. I enjoy this position because I work directly with several small businesses, including restaurants, spa owners, and other brick-and-mortar companies. I have gained a sincere appreciation for small corporations and enjoy being able to help them expand their businesses through Yelp infrastructures. Furthermore, my supervisor is very supportive of my professional growth. She is currently assisting me in navigating the various departments within our company so that I can explore the different facets of the tech industry.


What advice would you offer to any communications studies students at USF?

 Decker: Take advantage of your resources! Career Services offers a plethora of free career building tools that will truly prepare you for your first job. Also, go to office hours and learn more about your professors! We often forget they are all working professionals that have both worked in the communication/communication studies field, as well as in academia. They have a wealth of knowledge, advice and connections they can use to help you get where you want to go. They truly want their students to succeed.


Alumni Profile: From USF to Burning Man by Joshua Berman

Alumni Profile: From USF to Burning Man

By Joshua Berman, Senior Politics Major

Autumn Winston Graduated from USF in 2014

Autumn Winston graduated from USF in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. After college, she held several positions with the Burning Man festival, serving as a communications intern, HR administrative assistant, and ultimately an administrative associate for people and operations.


Which class or experience at USF do you think has best prepared you for your post-college life?

The internship courses played a huge role in preparing me for life after college. The nice thing about USF is that you don’t just take an internship and write about what you do there. It was a lot more in-depth. It was going to the career center and learning how to write a resume, how to interview, and meet professionals in different industries.


What were your favorite festivals growing up?

Burning Man was the first event I went to at the age of 18. It’s different than any other experience – 70,000 people participate for a week in a temporary community. The way it operates is more of a city. As a participant, I help to create the experience. Other events I enjoy are Lightning in a Bottle, Northern Nights, and Symbiosis; they all have a strong community and wonderful volunteer teams.


Which position with Burning Man have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed the position I’m in right now the most because I’m starting to get involved in the high-level functions of my department. I get to take on various projects work and own process. For example, I worked directly with the CEO and director of philanthropic engagement to produce our board of director’s retreat. Working with people at the Executive level who have a vast amount of professional and cultural experience is extremely rewarding.


What advice do you have for someone attending Burning Man for the first time?

Be okay with things that make you uncomfortable, and try something new. I have social anxiety and attending this massive event with over 70,000 people was outside my comfort zone. I pushed myself to talk to new people, and it was extremely rewarding. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with CEOs and founders of companies, but also travelers and people who live a nomadic lifestyle. It’s such a wide range of life experiences and everyone has something to offer. If you want to advance in the world in unexpected ways, try to meet people out there and keep up that connection when you get home.


Which one of Burning Man’s 10 Principles resonates strongest with you?

The principles that stick with me are immediacy – which means living in the moment and not thinking about the next thing and being observant of everything around you – and radical inclusion – meaning everyone can participate. For logistical reasons, leaving no trace is important. A “leave no trace” event means that everyone packs out what they bring in, although we do have a team that stays a month after. We’ve been able to help people see the way they generate waste and generate conscientious communities that take more responsibility.


What makes for a good Burning Man theme?

The art themes guide the art, performance, and experiences but they don’t dictate or define them. I think what makes for a good theme is the more ambiguous ideas that can be interpreted in many different ways. One of the best themes, in my opinion, was in 2016, which was Da Vinci’s Workshop. The art was large-scale, and many of the pieces were not completed by the time the event started. I believe the theme inspired artists to try audacious projects.


How does Burning Man’s nonprofit status help support the festival and its outside programming?

I started at Burning Man as an intern right in the middle of the transition. Burning Man shifted its focus from the annual event to extending the culture year-round through community engagement, programs, and the Regional Network. Being a nonprofit has helped the organization shift the conversation of what Burning Man does in the world.


If you could, what advice would you give your younger self?

Value your experience. The internships and coursework I managed [at USF] were equal or greater than two years of work experience. When you start at a company, you don’t have to take entry-level positions or salary. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your title or salary.