Karlstad University, Sweden - Bachelor's Degree, Media + Communications
Witty, frank and smart, Sweden-based Therese Rönnbäck is a girl who won’t take “no” for an answer. As the communications editor for the European Union-financed project, The Best Trip, the goal of her work is to convince Sweden’s citizens through advertisements, radio spots, etc., to use public transportation. As someone who’s always been drawn to the creative side of marketing campaigns, she is finding a new challenge in working directly with clients. Therese believes you should work hard, but not forget that there is more to life than work — it’s worth living.
Never give up. If you are stubborn, you will succeed.
Have you always been drawn to communications and producing Web content?
Yes and no. I have always been drawn to computers and graphic design using a computer. I loved working in Paint, and when Photoshop was released I was in heaven. But when I graduated high school I had no idea what I wanted to become. All I knew was that I liked sitting at a computer working with Photoshop. When I started studying at the university level, I found out there was so much more to the word “computer.” I started studying in 2002 during the aftermath of the dot-com bubble burst. People told me I was stupid to study an Internet technology/communications program. At that time IT was dead, and half of my program was programming and computer science. Fortunately, I didn’t like computer science that much, so I focused more on my communications classes.
After three years of college, the work environment still wasn’t ideal, so I spent another year studying for fun. I did graphic design, photojournalism and journalism. All of these kind of pushed me toward what I wanted to do. Today I usually say that this is what I was born to do. Unfortunately, it took me five years to realize that and get the courses I needed. But nothing in life is in vain. Almost all of my classes have helped me get where I want to go.
How did you get to where you are today?
It has been a long and sometimes hard path. But I have always been a goal setter. And I always reach them. My first goal was to obtain a degree. My second goal was to study a year abroad, which I did when I lived in Montana and attended The University of Montana for a year. Classes have been hard. Work has been even harder. But I’ve noticed that if you work hard you get further. Before this job I was unemployed for nine months, but during six of them I was working for free (with only a small subsidy from the state) at the company that now employs me.
What types of things do you do in your job?
I copywrite, update websites, take photos and hold meetings. Actually, half of my job now consists of holding and sitting in meetings and getting other people to do things. In the past my career has focused on the creative side, but now I’m on the customer side, so I always have a lot of balls to juggle.
Tell us more about The Best Trip. What is the goal of the project, and what are you doing to get the word out?
The Best Trip is a European Union-financed project that wants to change the attitudes of people toward public transportation and increase the use of it. There are so many benefits with choosing trains or buses instead of driving a car. There are health benefits, environmental benefits and economical benefits. So, I work with an advertising agency to develop the communication concept for the municipalities in this region (mid-Sweden). I ask the advertising agency we work with to create radio spots, print ads, etc. Then it’s my job to get the radio spots on the radio and the print ads in magazines. I also make sure that the municipalities are satisfied with what we produce. And I always make sure that the consumer really understands the ads and want to use public transportation more as a result of them.
Can you tell us a story of a time you learned something about yourself that surprised you while on the job?
I’m very stubborn, and through time it has taken me places. When I started working after graduating college, I had a job as a graphic design teacher at a high school, and I had never worked as a teacher before. It was so hard, and I cried every night for three months before it started getting easier. I really wanted to give up! But I stuck with it, and that job has helped me get other jobs because of what I learned. And it definitely helped me get this job. Being stubborn can sometimes be a good thing.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I’m a 27-year-old tall, skinny, blonde woman, which makes it hard to be taken seriously among 50-year-old CEOs. They know best because they have been in this industry for a very long time. My favorite part of my job is when I’m right -- and I know best -- and I show them that I’m more than just a stereotype.
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?
Never give up!
What has been your biggest career success so far?
Getting this job. I beat out 94 applicants who were much more experienced than me, but I was told this project needed a “loose cannon,” which makes me laugh now. I really feel this is the job that will kick-start my career.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
“Work to Live. Don’t Live to Work.” Always remember that you have only one life and that working is only a small part of it.
What advice do you have for girls who want to work in your industry?
Figure out what kind of things you need to study to become a communications editor. I would suggest studying public relations, communications and any class related to website development. Then study each subject and participate in a lot of extra curricular activities, because they will help you get the first job. No one wants to hire someone fresh from school, so you’ll want to develop your experience. And remember, never give up. If you are stubborn, you will succeed.