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Pandemic Updates From AMA Chapters

Pandemic Updates From AMA Chapters

Julian Zeng

illustration of cluster of people

How some AMA chapters have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic to help people at a critical time in their career development

AMA Nashville

By Emily Fay, VP of special events, and Mandy Arola, secretary and strategy

We were ready for an exciting March 2020 with several chapter events scheduled, including our Thought Leader Luncheon with MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer Ann Handley. But that month became memorable for other reasons: In the wee hours of March 3, a tornado struck Nashville. And just as we were beginning to recover from the devastation in our community, we were hit with a global pandemic. 

As we entered lockdown and installed Zoom and Google Hangouts, we knew that AMA Nashville had a unique opportunity to serve our local marketing community and work through the new challenges we were facing together. 


In April 2020, we launched the Wednesday’s Tactical Focus (WTF!) program, a series of free virtual lunchtime roundtable sessions hosted by our marketing maven board members. We held this eight-week series on Zoom and limited registration to 20 people for each session to ensure everyone could participate in the conversation. The 45-minute events were discussions, not presentations. Participants shared knowledge and learned from one another, plus it was a great way to keep our marketing community connected and engaged during a time when most of us only left the house to get groceries. 

Throughout the series, we covered how and what to communicate to clients and employees, how to maintain productivity without micromanaging in a virtual office, how to pivot marketing strategies to optimize digital options and how to address business development and client retention. 

Nearly all eight sessions sold out and many included a waitlist. Attendees were particularly pleased with the program’s convenience, the opportunity to network and the chance to learn how other industries and organizations were adjusting to the pandemic. 

As we start the new AMA year, we’re exploring ideas and topics to bring Wednesday’s Tactical Focus back once a month so we can continue to connect Nashville marketers virtually and spark conversation. 

map pointing out AMA Puget Sound, AMA Nashville and AMA New York chapters

AMA New York

By Esther Elkouss, career development and networking programs chair

On March 25, AMA New York was set to launch an event series to help marketers hunt for their next job opportunity. Due to the lightning-fast spread of the coronavirus, we quickly pivoted toward virtual events. 

Our half-day Marketing Career Bootcamp turned into a three-day virtual event on May 27, June 3 and June 10. Top recruiters and career experts led each session and more than 500 people learned how to leverage LinkedIn for their job search, build or refine their personal brand and network themselves into their next career. Each week, AMA New York ran two simultaneous sessions and attendees selected one based on their experience level. Those who attended at least two sessions received a complimentary consultation with a career coach. 

In three months, almost 46 million Americans lost their jobs due to the coronavirus-induced shutdown. Given these unprecedented circumstances, AMA New York decided to launch a second career development program called Virtual Career Readiness Summer Camp to help job-seekers learn new skills and build relationships. 

This five-week program, held July 7 to Aug. 11, provided 30 campers with the support and tools needed to leverage their professional strengths, gain confidence during their job search and become top candidates. In addition, they got support from the other campers through a buddy program and virtual happy hours filled with icebreakers and team-building activities. 

By popular request, the AMA New York Summer Camp Class of 2020 will participate in “Let’s Grow Together,” an ongoing training series. This group of campers will continue to meet twice a month to share their expertise with the group, develop professional skills and build a strong network. 

AMA Puget Sound

By Nadege Mohr, VP of career development

Searching for a job is hard work even in the best of times, which is why getting career development resources into the hands of our members is more important than ever. We want members to know they are not alone—a community of marketing professionals is here to help. 

A month into the pandemic, AMA Puget Sound Career Development partnered with Mindy Blakeslee, director for marketing and product practice at staffing agency FUEL Talent, and career coach Rebecca Adler to provide mindset and recruiting tips for job-seekers. Our free April webinar, “Navigating Your Job Search During Uncertainty,” was well-attended and well-received by members and non-members alike. “Most helpful were the tips on supporting my well-being and managing expectations,” one attendee said. 

AMA Puget Sound’s Career Center provides professional learning and career advancement opportunities for all members. Our mission is to excite and empower all marketing professionals on their journey to expand what and who they know so they can ultimately create their best career and life. We host quarterly workshops, events and discussions to help members along their marketing career journey—whether a recent grad looking for their next opportunity, or a professional pivoting from a current position. 

For any chapter seeking to innovate with new programming, we would recommend developing a robust strategic plan that includes a clear vision, priorities and goals to offer professional development, job searching, career coaching, mentoring, and leadership and development. This also includes surveying and interviewing members to better understand what is preventing them from achieving their career goals. Your chapter can then prioritize key areas of focus to build a program that helps members overcome barriers to get them to the next stage of their professional journey. 

Julian Zeng is omni-channel content manager at the American Marketing Association. He may be reached at