Innovate Marquette works with Invent@NMU to provide experiential learning to Northern Michigan University (NMU) students in order to better prepare them for whatever they may face as young professionals. As our talented team of Invent@NMU students graduates each year to pursue their careers, we’re occasionally lucky enough to keep some students around to start their careers with Innovate Marquette.
WHO IS VAUGHN RODRIGUEZ
Vaughn Rodriguez is a recent NMU and Invent@NMU graduate. Vaughn grew up in downstate Michigan in a suburb of Grand Rapids, where he spent most of his time seeking adventure from anywhere he could find it. Being the avid adventure-seeker he is, Vaughn chose to attend NMU to pursue an academic career where he could also thrive in his extracurricular passions. While he enjoys almost everything the outdoors has to offer, he particularly shines at rock climbing.
As a student, Vaughn led NMU’s student rock climbing organization, South Superior Climbing Club. His passion for climbing and getting others involved in the sport eventually led him to pursue his Single Pitch Instructor Certification from the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). In addition to his passion for the vertical plane, Vaughn loves to dirt bike, scuba dive, hike, camp, and go sailing on Lake Superior. Vaughn also attends Michigan Ice Fest every year where he works as an ice climbing guide. He finds the most fulfillment in taking out Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) groups from across the country who are often experiencing the Upper Peninsula for the first time.
CLIMBING TO COORDINATOR
In the spring of 2023, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration, and throughout his 1.5 years with Invent@NMU, Vaughn has grown immensely in his marketing skills as he worked thoroughly on client projects, social media management, content creation, writing and more. Leading up to graduation, he transitioned into a senior marketing assistant position as a contractor for Innovate Marquette SmartZone while still supporting the marketing team at Invent@NMU. This brief transition allowed Vaughn to dip his toes in the waters of working as a member of Innovate Marquette management where he would eventually be a teammate. He provided a helping hand to the Invent@NMU student marketing team while simultaneously assisting management with critical tasks.
Days after Vaughn graduated, he was welcomed to the team and began his journey as Innovate Marquette’s new Marketing Coordinator, working directly with our previous coordinator, Aubry Healy, who is now Innovate Marquette’s Marketing Manager. Together, they carry out attraction efforts for Innovate Marquette and guide the Invent@NMU marketing students through strategizing, executing, and analyzing real-world marketing projects which in turn helps students develop as young professionals.
“Being an Invent@NMU Marketing Assistant while I was pursuing my bachelor’s at NMU provided me with the opportunity to learn skills in class and apply them directly to real-world projects as an intern at Invent. It just so happened that when I graduated, my internship became the start of my career. It was, and is, nice to go through the transition from student to coordinator because, for a little more than a year, I was purely gaining experience and now, as marketing coordinator, I can utilize this experience to be a more effective member of the team.”
Vaughn is a passionate, creative, and communicative member of the Innovate Marquette and Invent@NMU team. When he thinks about what goals he’d like to see in the near future for the company, he emphasizes the fact that clients are number one, and he aims to ensure that clients are receiving top-notch consultation services. He also hopes to showcase Innovate Marquette’s mission, in order to attract talent in the form of clients and team members, from both the university and the community.
Innovate Marquette is optimistic that the addition of young, fresh minds will help elevate how IMQT and Invent@NMU work together and serve the community. Now that Vaughn has both the experience of being a student employee and of working in a leadership role, he can bring a unique set of perspectives to the table as both organizations continue to grow together.
“My vision for Innovate Marquette and Invent@NMU is twofold. First, I want to ensure that we are doing all we can to provide local entrepreneurs with unmatched consultation and services. Thanks to our excellent team I have faith in the success of that. Second, I want to make sure that our community has a clear understanding of what we do as an organization and how it impacts the people and economy around us. To say that I’m excited to take on that challenge is an understatement.”
About the Author: Originally from Minnesota, Sarah Gimpl is a senior at NMU studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability with a minor in Art and Design. Sarah has worked at Invent@NMU as a marketing assistant since her freshman year.