Graduate Spotlight: Alexis Hallahan’s Career Journey of Resilience, Revival and Reinvention

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AlexisHallahan MSDMM Ambassador

Photo: Alexis Hallahan

Alexis Hallahan’s professional journey is a testament to adaptability and resilience. Despite “pressing pause” on her career to embrace motherhood, she embarked on a transformative path by enrolling in the online MS in Digital Media Management (DMM) program at USC. This decision not only revitalized her career but also paved the way for establishing her own wellness center for mothers.

Her experience in the DMM program has been pivotal in reentering the ever-evolving landscape of digital media. Alexis currently serves as Operations Manager for her family’s construction company and attributes her success in that role to the program.

Below, Alexis highlights what she enjoys the most about her role, how the DMM program has benefitted her career, and shares advice for prospective students.

Tell us about your academic and professional background and how digital media management integrates itself into your career journey.

My background is rooted in the fashion industry, predominantly in production, design, and public relations. I’ve always had a love for fashion but truthfully, I stumbled into it accidentally.

While obtaining my undergrad degree at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), I answered an internship ad for a production assistant and before I knew it, I was hired full time, and my career began to take off. I was fortunate to work for a female-owned company, Untamed Petals, and because of its smaller stature, I was lucky to wear many hats. I floated between production and public relations and after achieving tenure, I became a part of the design process.

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Photo: Alexis Hallahan

I was enthralled with my career choice and prospects on the horizon, but I made a pivotal decision to leave it behind when my husband’s career took us to Michigan. Within three months, I went from building relationships with Nordstrom to building cribs, as I was expecting twins. Three kids and five years later, I could no longer ignore the immense pull towards reviving my career and I decided to rebuild by attending graduate school.

The first pleasant surprise in the DMM program was how quickly I could integrate what I was learning into my family’s construction business. As operations manager, I overhauled our marketing materials, reworked our website, created training manuals, and established an online presence that resulted in a 60% increase in annual revenue. The second pleasant surprise, under the incredible leadership of Professor Itaya and Dr. Akira, was the realization that I wanted to own my own business by creating a wellness center for women and mothers like me, via exercise and postpartum support. I utilized DMM to start building my brand and positioned myself to launch my company before the end of 2024. Had I not been pushed by my professors to consider alternative perspectives, and challenge myself intellectually and creatively, I’m not sure I would’ve reached the same conclusion.

How did you decide to pursue the MSDMM program at USC?

USC has always been my dream school. Given the trajectory of our world and the constant turn towards digital, the MSDMM program felt like a natural fit. It genuinely covered every aspect of the digital realm, offering a complete understanding of branding, marketing, leadership, entrepreneurship, advertising, and community relations.

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Photo: Alexis Hallahan

In your current role as an operations manager, how do you utilize digital media?

Digital media has enabled our construction business to thrive. A seemingly boring industry, I’ve utilized digital media strategies to rework all our marketing materials, streamline deliveries, enhance client relationships, and effectively lead a male-dominated industry as a woman. I am incredibly proud of that last point.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

I enjoy building the brand. Every time I help secure a new client, I feel elated. Every time a client mentions they found us from an ad I designed, I feel a sense of pride. The time and energy I’m putting in is paying off and that’s extremely satisfying. Construction may not be my passion, but it’s enabled my husband and I to provide a great life for our family and it’s allowed me the financial freedom to pursue my own business.

When you look back at your time throughout the program, what stands out to you as a highlight?

The guidance of brilliant professors who will encourage and challenge you to consider alternative perspectives, grow beyond intellect, and embrace a creative and entrepreneurial side. Beyond what I gained academically, was a new network of smart, kind humans who utilized their experience, connections, and Rolodex to usher me into the next professional phase of life.

Tell us how USC Annenberg’s MS in Digital Media Management program benefitted your career.

The immediate applications of the material were invaluable. To take an industry like construction and usher our archaic systems into seamless digital systems made a tremendous impact on our bottom line and client relationships. I was taught how to look at the market differently, identify gaps and pain points, and create effective solutions.

Photo: Alexis Hallahan

Beyond my position as an operations manager for Contracting Solutions, DMM created my next career phase in life. During the program I began building and refining my brand, Homeward Wellness, an exercise and mental health studio, with an emphasis on providing support for new mothers. I’m roughly six months out from opening the doors to a location in San Diego, CA, and that’s a dream I wouldn’t have without DMM and the encouragement from my professors and peers.

As an ambassador for the DMM program, what advice do you have for prospective students looking to pursue an MSDMM at USC?

Go for it. You’ll never regret expanding your education and knowledge. You’ll be surrounded by professors that will challenge you and support your goals every step of the way. They won’t hesitate to share their network to boost you to the next phase in life. Your classmates will be diverse and brilliant with so many different backgrounds and something new to learn from every single student. You’ll create lifelong friendships despite the program being online, and at the end of an extremely challenging program, you will feel more than equipped to enhance your current career or confidently jump into a new one.

Learn more about the MS in Digital Media Management program.

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