by Lindsay Odom

MEET THE AUTHOR: Communications Coordinator and Columbia native Lindsay Odom received her degree from Clemson University before joining the Endeavor team in May 2017. In addition to social media responsibilities, Lindsay is interviewing Endeavor members to learn (and share) more about marketing, agency life, entrepreneurship, and what it means to create meaningful work for clients. 

Laura Mariani is one of the first people I met at Endeavor. I was immediately captivated by her warm smile and spirit. I also wasn’t surprised that she’s from California –– she has an easy-going personality, but her drive and determination, especially when it comes to creativity, proves that she was made in Silicon Valley.

Laura began her career as an administrative assistant at Intel Corporation. Yes, you heard that. Intel, one of the largest tech companies in the world, and frontrunner of innovative technology, especially while Laura was there in the early 2000s. Although this was a great job, Laura admitted, it wasn’t the dream. “I told everyone who would listen that I was a writer. I was like an actor who works as a waiter, telling his customers he’s really an actor, not a waiter.”

“Well, it didn’t take long for Laura to say something to the right person. “In 2000, big companies like Intel were making their own Intranets for employees,” Laura shared, “and they needed corporate reporters to make content.” Ding ding ding! “I was on vacation at the time, so when I came home, there was a voicemail that said, ‘you better call now!'” Finally, Laura had landed her dream job as the writer for the mobile platform group’s online weekly newsletter, filled with news about the team’s projects, competitors, employees and sites. “My boss traveled all the time, so it was really just me. I decided what went in, and I wrote everything,” Laura told me. Within a year, she had created an editorial calendar of annual events and an effective, organized content marketing strategy.”

Laura’s success at Intel landed her similar jobs, but with two other big name corporations: Visa and Intuit. When she told me this, my jaw practically dropped to the floor. The fact that I was sitting in front of someone who worked for two Fortune 500 companies (both under 300, for that matter) was special.

Laura was different from other traditional tech employees. She was a pioneer for Intel’s internal communication efforts. At Visa, she managed and edited a weekly global newsletter for financial clients. At Intuit, she kept employees on the loop on projects and employee programs completed by the workplace team, including office renovations, on-campus perks like the bike program, and expansion of the corporate headquarters campus.

In 2014, Laura and her boyfriend had an itch for a new adventure, one that would lead them across the country to Greenville, South Carolina. In fact, they visited Greenville in April for three days, and moved in November! “We wanted to pick up our small town in California and drop it in the southeast,” Laura said. “My boyfriend and I did research about real estate in different markets, and landed on the Carolinas.” But why Greenville? “It has a college influence similar to the Bay Area, and we wanted to be around smart people and where there’s a lot going on. I love that we can go to the Peace Center and be home in 10 minutes. In California, we livd 30 minutes away from San Francisco, but the traffic takes a long time, and it’s expensive to park your car there.”

Today, Laura still edits newsletters for clients as far as her home state in California and even New Jersey, all while being able to experience the charm of her new home in Greenville. Her advice for me is refreshing. It isn’t based on regrets in her life, but the risks that she wasn’t afraid to take, even if it meant doing something that might be below her skill level. “Everyone has to start somewhere, while at the same time reaching for the stars. It pays to have a big mouth, within reason!” she laughed, reflecting on her “actor working as a waiter” days. “And if there’s something you’re interested in that’s out of your reach, make sure everyone knows it,” because just like Laura, “the right person’s going to hear you, and they’ll give you a chance.”