Alumni Spotlight: Miguel Masso
1. What has been your journey from the program at UT to where you are now?
When I started college, I thought I wanted to study pre-med, so I was studying pre-med at the University of Texas at Brownsville, which is now known as UTRGV. Even though I was liking it and good at it, I just didn't see myself in that field for super long. I had been accepted into UT Austin prior, so when I decided to come to UT after all, I wasn't sure yet what I wanted to do. I really liked psychology, but I still wanted to dabble with a few other career choices. So, I took the intro to advertising class my first semester at UT, and I immediately loved it.
I interned at GSD&M as a media analytics intern, and then that fall, they asked me to come back but this time as a media intern. In 2018, my last semester in college, they asked me to come back again. And when I graduated, the day of my graduation, they offered me a full-time position. So, I started there, literally, the next day after graduation as a media planner. I worked there for a year, and I’m grateful for that opportunity because we were able to do advertising through every single media channel.
An interesting fact about me is that I am a Mexican citizen, so I was an international student at UT. I also was only able to work for GSD&M for a year because of my work visa.
After that, I went back to Mexico, and I opened my own agency with a business partner. She also went to UT, and she graduated with a PR major. We were really passionate about helping small to medium businesses, because we both had had some experience with large agencies, and we had a lot of international clients. One of our biggest clients was in Dubai, we had several in Mexico, and I think we learned a lot by having our own business.
In 2021, a business here in Austin reached out that they wanted to grow their business through e-commerce and international. They sell a lot of products from Spain and Texas, and it's called Dos Olivos Markets, and I’m in charge of their marketing, advertising, and creation. I basically wear all the hats for that e-commerce side. My goal was to grow this business from basically scratch to a six-figure business. And just at the end of last year, we had sold to all the states in the U.S. So, we grew pretty quickly and that's where I'm at right now.
2. What experience or person made the biggest impact on where you are today?
I don't know if I would say a specific person, but the people in in advertising. I really felt that we had a very similar work ethic. And especially at UT, being one of the top schools in advertising, everyone was in it to win it. We were all very dedicated to what we would do.
I was also the president of the Diversity and Inclusion Student Council. So, one of my main goals being the president was to make it easier for international students to navigate the process. There was a lot of little things that weren't really taught to us. For example, there wasn't a specific international adviser in the communication school. You had to go the international office. I also tried to work there and work with the dean to try to get some sort of grant, because as international students, it's more expensive to attend, and especially for summer courses, which were necessary for international students to be able to have an internship. That was on my agenda, and I brought awareness towards that.
3. What sparked your interest in advertising and/or public relations?
When I took the intro to advertising class, I remember coming in and the first slide the professor put was a slide of a brain, and he was like, “If you use your left brain and right brain equally, this is the career for you.” And that was literally the same way I would describe it to the people around me. I would tell them, “I want to do something that equally uses both my right and left side brain.” So, I immediately fell in love with advertising, and I applied to transfer to that major, and then fall of 2015, I was officially on the advertising track.
4. Why did you choose UT's program?
So, I didn't know I wanted to go into advertising. Being totally honest, when I transferred to UT, I just sort of felt like I wanted to get away from home and experience a different environment. And so, I came to UT as a psychology major. But then when I saw the advertising classes and I took them, I felt like they really resonated with me. Also, just seeing the people, the caliber of the education, and all the different sequences, that made me really want to apply to the advertising program.
5. What was your favorite memory about the program? (could be a person, place, idea, or experience.)
We had to do a group project in the media sequence and presented to the CMO of Taco Bueno. I think the group that I had, we were all very similar, and, again, very dedicated, hardworking, but we also enjoyed each other's company, and we created a pretty good bond. Just all those experiences of doing all-nighters and getting together, but 80% of the time just talking about other stuff, and 20%, being like, “okay, let's get this rolling.” I think that really was a cool experience.
Another one that was in my media sequence - we did I think it was called the Google Online Competition. My team specifically didn't win, but one of the teams in our cohort won first place. So, that was nice to see how it comes to fruition, being one of the top advertising schools and someone in your cohort winning that worldwide competition. It’s also validation that you're on the right track and that you're in the right program.
6. What words of advice do you have for those applying to or already in the program?
I would say to really lean into everyone around you. Something that I still do because of my experience at UT, is to always, I would describe it as, become a sponge. I don't think you'll ever be around that many people doing the same thing and so diverse. Be a sponge and listen to what others have to say and their point of view, their takes on everything, as well as not being afraid to ask questions to your peers as well as to your professors.
The professors there, every single one of them, their door was always open. And what really helped me was to not be afraid to go and visit them and ask questions. Even difficult questions that that you might be like, “No, I don't think I should ask them.” I think that's the biggest piece of advice that I have. Just submerge. Become a sponge in that environment, and don't be afraid to ask questions because there's so much to learn.
7. What was your favorite non-academic pastime while you were a student at UT-Austin?
One of my favorites that I feel I hadn't really had the chance to dive deep into it, was exploring all the different types of foods and restaurants in Austin. I've been in Austin for, like, seven years or five years, and I haven't caught up, because they keep opening so many new places. And just, the food is top notch. That's one of the ones, I would say, outside of school.
And another one in terms of orgs, and I don't think it's still there, but it was one called Speak. We would bring speakers like the creator of the “like” button and I think it was the CMO of Snapchat and stuff like that.