Published on February 13, 2018, at 8:20 p.m.
by Alana Doyle.
As a business faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Brandon Chicotsky teaches seminars in business communications, leadership and human values.
Prior to his recent move to Johns Hopkins University, Chicotsky worked as the coordinator of experiential learning at The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. In this role, Chicotsky developed a professional development program called Industry Immersion.
According to Chicotsky, “Industry Immersion connects ambitious students with alumni around the country by visiting their companies in big-city markets.”
When asked about why he started this program at Alabama, Chicotsky referenced the connections he had made as a young professional while serving as the chief marketing officer for a growth-stage startup company. He decided to take young, “high-performers” under his wing to connect with business professionals.
Dr. Sara Hartley, the assistant dean for undergraduate studies and external relations for the college of communication or information sciences, when asked about developing this program with Chicotsky stated, “working with Brandon was fun because we did a lot of thinking outside of the box.”
Seminars typically occur during breaks in the school year so that students can travel to major cities across the country to network with industry professionals. The Industry Immersion website offers upcoming trips to Chicago, Atlanta, New York City and more. The program has helped launch careers for several participants since it began.
During his time at Alabama, he also taught several classes that covered subjects like public relations writing, mass communications and group leadership. While teaching courses, Chicotsky received his Ph.D. in Communication and Information Sciences.
Alexis Craft, a senior advertising major at UA, was a student in two of Dr. Chicotsky’s classes in fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017, respectively. When reflecting on these classes, Craft said that they were always filled with high energy and interesting topics.
“Whether it be bringing in a jazz band to perform or standing on his podium and yelling, Chico (a nickname of endearment used by many former students and colleagues that is derived from the first five letters of Dr. Chicotsky’s name) made the classroom a place where you actually wanted to learn,” said Craft.
In addition, Craft was selected to be a part of Dr. Chicotsky’s brand team, which eventually connected her to her current job at the student newspaper, The Crimson White, and a summer graphic design internship with Wiley in Orlando. The opportunities provided in Chicotsky’s class gave her the opportunity to expand her network and become confident in her advertising skills.
Prior to teaching at The University of Alabama, Chicotsky attended graduate school at New York University (NYU) to study science in management with a focus on entrepreneurship after receiving his bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin. While living in New York, Chicotsky was recognized by international media channels for his creative Bald Logo marketing campaign.
New York Daily News interviewed Chicotsky about his innovative startup, Bald Logo. According to the article, companies could purchase space on his bald head for $320 a day, and he would hit the town gaining attention from people in highly populated parts of the city. The best part about the company is that part of the profits benefit the national Alopecia Areata Foundation, which helps children with a disease that causes hair loss.
PRofessional advice Q&A with Chicotsky
In regard to personal branding, what are the main tips you have for young professionals?
Chicotsky responded, “Whatever persona portrayals you project outward should be a direct extension of your authentic self in a professional context. That way, you can easily align perceptions with how you are in-person with how you are depicted in the digital space.” In addition, Chicotsky mentioned that it is important to adjust your personal brand to be professional by cleaning up inappropriate online content.
How do you get your foot in the door and stand out in competitive industries?
According to Chicotsky, it’s all about who you know. If you personally do not have a connection, alumni networks offer incredible opportunities to connect with industry professionals. If that isn’t an option, Chicotsky recommended that you “find a connecting attribute of an industry leader you admire and draw points of inspiration from that leader.” From there, you can work to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
How can young professionals market themselves right out of college?
Chicotsky expressed the importance of finding what you have to offer a company from a generational perspective. Following graduation, young professionals should be willing to take on menial tasks in order to develop relationships and increase their personal value. Chicotsky advised, “Start somewhere and rise through sheer grit, determination, intentional learning, strategic networking, tactful negotiating and an indefatigable work ethic.”
Chicotsky continues to emphasize the importance of personal branding, networking skills and hard work to young professionals entering the workforce. With a broad range of experience, he is an innovative industry leader and role model for people across the country.