Sarah Clapper, project and marketing coordinator for Berardi + Partners, is following her dream—working as a marketer for an architectural firm. In our member spotlight, Sarah, who was crowned Miss Ohio 2017, sat down with SMPS to share the challenges and rewards of her career and how passion plays a role in her success.
How did you decide to have a career in the A/E/C industries? In high school, I wanted to pursue a career in interior design until the day I shadowed an architect. I fell in love with the profession that day and understood, for the first time, the role that design plays in architecture. I graduated in 2016 with my degree in Architecture with Honors and Research Distinction and immediately began my career at Berardi + Partners. A few months later, I felt there was something missing and began expressing my interest in marketing.
How would you describe your role/job? My role at Berardi + Partners is very unique because I balance two jobs on any given day. As a project coordinator, I develop construction documents and design concepts, as well as assist with construction administration. As a marketing coordinator, I handle the overall brand development through management of the company website, content marketing design and implementation, and proposal design/production. I also assist with client development and help identify ways to expand the reach and potential of our firm.
What’s your favorite part of the job? My favorite part of the job is having the opportunity to meet and work with incredible individuals. I’m able to see projects come to life through my roles in construction administration and formulate individual projects into a collective whole through marketing. I love interacting with my coworkers, contractors, clients—everyone who plays a crucial role in developing high-quality projects true to our brand.
What are the challenges and rewards? One of the biggest challenges is learning how to manage two different roles within the firm. Luckily my project managers have been very supportive to make sure I’m able to achieve that balance. One of the greatest rewards is that I can develop an understanding for the work that I’m doing on a much larger scale. Every interaction within the firm relates back to our mission and ultimately the brand, and I’m thankful that I get to help orchestrate those interactions and be involved in the entire process.
What has been your most meaningful project? The first project that comes to mind is 223 East Town Street. I was involved in the construction-document phase and have been able to watch the project come to life during the construction-administration phase. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Brackett Builders on this project, and they have been a tremendous asset to the project’s development and execution.
Can you tell us more about your mentor? Paula Ryan, director of marketing at Jezerinac Geers & Associates, has been an incredible mentor. In the short time I’ve known Paula, she has been nothing short of a miracle maker. She has instilled in me a confidence that has truly enabled me to begin to accomplish my goals and dreams. I’m beyond blessed to know that I can turn to Paula when I have questions and count on her support.
How has SMPS membership helped your career? And how has it helped your firm? My SMPS membership has confirmed that my passion is marketing within an architecture firm, and the Society has helped me learn the skills necessary to do that. While I have little formal training in marketing, I feel confident in my abilities because of the information I have learned through SMPS and from receiving a great mentor. We currently do not have a marketing department, so I oversee all the marketing efforts at Berardi + Partners, and I have SMPS to thank for that opportunity.
Can you tell us how your company is supportive of your SMPS membership? When I first explained to my boss that I was interested in marketing, the first thing I did was look for a professional organization to learn about the field. I mentioned to my firm the potential for growth opportunities, and they purchased my SMPS membership. However, they didn’t stop there. They also sent me to the Heartland Regional Conference as well as other local events, so I could meet and learn from very talented individuals.
What advice would you give to someone who’s about to enter your profession? Figure out what you’re most passionate about and choose a path that speaks to your heart. I love going to work each day because I have discovered my true passion, and I love the company I work for. Finding a company that places emphasis on the same values that you personally have is important because you care about the same things and that will affect your attitude. Also, understand that the beginning is sometimes difficult because you don’t always know the answer, but that’s okay! Surround yourself with people who do know and ask questions. Learn as much as you can and take advantage of every opportunity.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Always remain confident in your perspective—no one else has it, and it makes you unique and valuable. Always believe that you deserve a seat at the table because you have information to contribute because of your world view, and never let anyone devalue your contributions. Finally, above all else, never give up on your dreams.
Congrats on being named Miss Ohio! Please tell us a little more about your journey, and how it fits in with your career goals? I competed for the title of Miss Ohio five times. It wasn’t until my fifth try that I ultimately walked away with the title of Miss Ohio 2017. It has been a very long journey, and I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience.
While serving as Miss Ohio 2017, I intend to grow the program through the skills I’ve learned since joining SMPS. Spending a year in the professional world before becoming Miss Ohio has prepared me for the job that comes with the title, and I am prepared to continue to develop the skills that will add value to my professional career. I am so honored to have this opportunity and will compete for the title of Miss America 2018, live on ABC, September 10 at 9 p.m. ET.
Photo of Sarah Clapper courtesy of Matt Boyd Photography.