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Take One With Sage Testini

Sage Testini

Sage Testini

          Sage Testini looks relaxed at home after a busy workday as a Communications and Marketing Manager at SFU’s Work Integrated Learning (WIL), a department that helps students to gain practical work experience through cooperative education (co-op) during their studies.

          A job that he has held since December 2016, Testini manages the promotions of co-op programs for all academic departments in the university to students.  He and his team gain students’ awareness of co-op programs with print materials, co-op students’ stories, updated analytics, banners, info sessions, web content, and online media.  They also ensure a consistent and coherent branding for all co-op programs.

            “I enjoy the high autonomy to take on projects,” Testini lists the benefits of his role.  “I Can have stewardship on projects and to improve on key areas.  I feel at home working for an educational institution.”

            During the pandemic lockdown from March 2020 to September 2021, Testini worked from home.  While he enjoyed the lack of commute, longer sleep, and better work-life balance that enabled him to get both work and house chores done, he also became more disciplined, overcame distractions, and coped with burnouts from having irregular workdays.

            He was relieved to return to office from two days a week in July to full-time since September, as universities resumed on-campus operations.    

            “I support the hybrid work model to get things done during the day,” Testini comments about the work environment nowadays, where he sees seven of the 15-20 staff at the WIL office.  “Also, it’s good to see colleagues for brainstorming sessions and have personal interactions when walking by their desks, rather than having to organize a Zoom meeting to exchange simple ideas like we did during the lockdown.” 

            As Testini adapts to the transition period and adjusts to the new normal for his job, he embraces challenges that have persisted since pre-pandemic.  Besides building and developing promotional projects, he has also simplified information to effectively complete projects, linked colleagues via an intranet to achieve better project management, and to guarantee accurate and complete information for promotional videos or marketing materials by getting Co-op students’ consents to their names and faces. 

 

From Actor to Communicator

 

            Testini has enjoyed making videos since he was a child actor who studied in a film school.  He was interested in film production and behind-the-scenes work (sound, lighting, film editing, and visual effects); he only learned about the communications field when he attended an information session after high school.

            Testini began his communications journey with his parents’ suggestion.  His knowledge on video-making, animation, graphics, and web design since high school would become valuable assets.  After earning a B.A. in Media and Communications (MACS) from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), Testini took courses in web development and design, communications, and publishing at SFU where he learned Adobe Illustrator and InDesign to sharpen his video-editing skill.

            During and after his bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies at SFU from 2011-2014, Testini undertook various co-op and agency work experiences.  He started with co-op placements at SFU from September 2012-2013 to provide marketing, communications, and design support for career events and to support student and alumni entrepreneurs. 

            Afterwards, he worked for a few local digital marketing agencies, starting with Accenture as the Marketing Analyst.  There, he learned that communication is beyond graphic design and video production; it also includes writing, making presentation slides, and explaining things to clients.  He realized that he enjoyed the visual side of communication more than the writing aspect.

            While he gained valuable agency experiences through taking on clients’ projects, he realized that he enjoyed more on working for one client, where projects are easier to manage, and that he could develop a brand deeper.  He returned to SFU’s Work Integrated Learning in December 2016 as a full-time Communications and Marketing Manager.

 

            Besides his academics and work endeavors, Testini is a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) since 2019 after joining a social event.  He also volunteered for IABC in taking board meeting minutes and is now the Creative Services Manager for the BC chapter. 

 

            “It’s nice to have a sounding board in a community to share ideas and challenges you have,” he describes the benefits of connecting with a professional network with people who does similar work as him.  “Someone may inspire or ignite a lightbulb in your head, like ‘so-and-so at Telus or BC Hydro did it this way’, and I can apply that at my job.”

            “If you’d like a career change, say, six years later, you can introduce yourself to someone among the members who works at the company that you want to work for,” he illustrated.  “You can chat him or her up to see what it’s like to work there, since they already know you and your work.”

 

Professionalism Viewpoint and Advice

               Testini’s view on professionalism goes beyond having a degree, a full-time job, and a supportive professional network.   “Everyone suffers from ‘imposter’s syndrome’,” he explains.  “When you enter a job, you feel like an imposter—pretending to know the stuff.  Over time, people begin to look to you for answers on something because they respect your opinion and skills.  I feel like a professional when people look up to me for advice or expertise.” 

 

            “Sometimes, you’d doubt yourself and ask, ‘do I really know how to do this?’ but once you’ve gotten through it, you’d realize that you actually have the tools to do it,” he elaborated.  “You’d never know everything when you get into a job; you’d always learn.  It’s just a matter of recognizing your accomplishments and communicating to those who’d want to know.”

               So, what does Testini recommend to those who want to embark on a similar journey as his?  “If you’re a communicator, you must be good at transferrable skills such as digital media and web content skills.  Many companies need online marketing support in web content or social media management,” he advises.  “Take a Communications program and complete its co-ops, internships and volunteer jobs to gain relevant work experience, as they are all important.  Work experience is equally—if not more—important than classroom knowledge when building up your resume.” 

            He continued.  “Employers care about what you did in your co-op term.  It shows that you understand the office environment and the typical communications job nature, so they can train you less knowing that you knew this already.  Work in multiple places: co-op placements and agencies to understand the skillsets for both in-house and agency work, and to know what you prefer.” 

Career Goals

 

            “Right now, I like the position I have, because I can apply a lot of my skills and knowledge, and I have control over projects,” he admits.  “As for future goals, I’d like to get professionally recognized by obtaining one of the IABC’s certificates.  Beyond that, I still have acting at the back of my mind, and I may pursue it one day.  I’d love to understand what sort of jobs that exist in the augmented reality field because it’s such a new medium now.  Perhaps I could build something from the ground up.”

            Perhaps, an augmented reality film, starring Sage Testini, will soon be premiering in theatres near you.

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