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Featured on May 16, 2012

Jen Marie Robustelli

"You don't say good luck/You say don't give up/It's the fire, inside her - the Roots"


I spent most of my high school and college years studying public policy and law, seeking to disrupt the political status quo. In practice, however, policy work as a field manager of a canvass team made me grow restless and frustrated. Though I loved studying politics/policy/law, I felt I'd hit a dead end and needed to shift gears. I moved from Portland, Maine to NYC in 2009 and haven't looked back.

Both tech and entrepreneurship were always topics of interest, but never presented as real career opportunities until I moved to NYC. I went to my first startup career fair in April 2011 at AOL Ventures, and followed up with every person who handed me a business card. Over the next few months, I said yes to every volunteering offer and networking event that crossed my radar. I booked free afternoons with coffee chats on oHours, and killed the time in between meetings studying tech news and thought leader blogs. Through those activities (and social media), I've been able to get involved with so many influential groups and people in NY Tech - the Silicon Alley Talent Fair (now Uncubed), NY Beta, Lean Startup Machine, Tech@NYU events, WeWork and Dogpatch Labs coworking spaces, as well as exposure to the VC/angel investors. In July of last year, I left my job as a nanny/tutor and spent a total of 6 days unemployed before I was offered a marketing research internship with Conductor, an enterprise SEO SaaS startup in Union Square. In January I was promoted to a full-time position at Conductor, and I'm proud to finally be a member of the NY Tech community. I think a lot about what kind of value I can give back - right now, it would be this: I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities I've had so far. If you're looking to get more involved with the NY Tech community, be proactive. Follow up with people. Look for opportunities to learn. And, work very hard.

  • Title: Marketing & Social Media Coordinator, Conductor
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Union Square
  • Contact: @jenastelli, LinkedIn

Coming from a public policy and law background, how was the transition into social media and marketing? Did you have any experience in social media or marketing before starting at Conductor or did you learn as you worked?

There really wasn't a transition - both policy/law and aspect of internet marketing/media were always of interest to me. I was actually a nanny/tutor (and a community organizer, a bartender, and a dog walker) before joining Conductor as a research intern. Luckily, my manager was an incredible mentor for me during my internship and I got the chance to experience nearly every aspect of how our marketing team runs. That drove me to learn as much as I could both on the job, and on my time off. I'm still learning - there's tons of great, free content out there about internet marketing, and I burn through a more academic book about once/month.

You call yourself a "Brooklyn enthusiast." Can you give those people that refuse to go out of Manhattan a couple of reasons to make the trek to Brooklyn?

Any must eat/drink sites in Brooklyn we should know about? Haha! Zocdoc asked me about this too. It's hard to give specific recommendations, but a plug for my 'hood: the Prospect Heights/Crown Heights neighborhood from Franklin Ave to Vanderbilt is the next big thing. I've lived there for 2 years and it's got the Brooklyn Museum, Botanic Gardens, the park (of course) and a sizable greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza. It's a beautiful area juxtaposed with both brownstones and modern architecture, and there's quite the burgeoning food and drink scene.

After experiencing the difficulties of changing the current political system through public policy and law, do you have any ideas of how tech can aid those efforts?

Working with our research about search engine trends and behavior at Conductor has made me a bit obsessed about how people find and absorb information, especially news. I also think a lot about big data - while it's a massively abused buzzword right now (and can mean 100s of things depending on context) I think we're entering an age where we're just starting to utilize this data we've been collecting. Using technology can unlock some insight and scale up data-driven decision making (see: CompStat in the NYPD), but will it change the way our current political system functions? There's a lot of moving parts here. But these (finding information online, and utilizing big data) are two soft-focus areas of interest I think about developing a better relationship between  tech+ politics.

Social Media, Marketing