This story is a part of our ‘A Day in the Life’ series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. While many of our features showcase 2Utes during heritage months, this article celebrates one of our 2020 No Back Row Award winners—an employee recognized for embracing one of 2U’s nine Guiding Principles. Rachel Braunstein was one of two 2Utes selected as the winners of the Make Service Your Mission award.
Rachel Braunstein may have begun her professional career in lawn care, but coming up on four years at 2U, she’s now squarely in the business of people care.
“When I tell people where I was before 2U,” Rachel says, “most of them think I was out mowing lawns every day. But I was working at the headquarters of a national franchised lawn care brand handling a wide variety of tasks: legal, financial reporting, PR, shipping, purchasing, administrative responsibilities, you name it.”
When a role opened up in the marketing department where she worked, Rachel asked her manager about moving into it. She was told she didn’t have the right background for the role because they wanted someone who knew SEO really well. Since she had successfully been doing PR for them, Rachel felt put-off and knew her career there was coming to an end.
“At the time,” Rachel recalls, “my sister worked at this super cool company called 2U that had really elaborate Halloween celebrations, random dance parties, snacks in the kitchen, and the like. I was jealous and began scanning 2U’s job board regularly.”
Just when she was about to give up hope of working at 2U, a marketing assistant position opened up, and, within two weeks, she was starting her new job at corporate headquarters—the same week as the grand opening of its brand-new office in Lanham, Maryland. In her current role as the manager of the office of the chief marketing officer (CMO), she gets to work with every marketer at the company, support the team’s needs, and discuss strategy every day.
Never once has she felt like she has not had the right credentials for the job.
Read on to learn about Rachel’s journey at 2U so far and what being a No Back Row Award winner means to her.
Rachel (at right) joins her sister, a former 2Ute, for 2U Boo, our Halloween extravaganza
Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?
2U piqued my interest not just because of the random dance parties; the company also seemed like a place where I could learn a lot and use that knowledge as a launching point for my career. I was just discovering that I wanted to work in marketing when I came to 2U, and after three months, the enormity of what I could learn here exploded.
There are quite a few people who were pivotal to ensuring I had access to every learning opportunity I wanted to pursue. That ultimately led me to earn my Master of Science in Communications from Syracuse University, one of the many online degree programs powered by 2U. While the professional and academic education I have been receiving at 2U has been beyond rewarding, it is truly the people that have kept me here. Every day, I get to work with some of the most brilliant problem solvers and creative minds.
How would you describe your role as the manager of the Office of the CMO?
This is a fun question. You could say I am someone who wears many hats! In a nutshell, I support the 2U global marketing team in solving communication and operational challenges; I also ensure the team has the resources they need to do their jobs successfully and develop professionally. The other major function of my role is to support our chief marketing officer, managing director of degree programs, and chief data scientist with any administrative- or project-based tasks that are required for them to achieve business targets.
Rachel shows her school spirit for Syracuse University, where she earned her 2U-powered online master's degree
What do you find most challenging about your job? How about the most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of my role is that I want to help with every single project that comes across my desk. As a one-person team, I have to know my limitations (which, in most cases, is bandwidth). The most rewarding part of my job is the opportunity to talk to so many people—to understand their frustrations and make connections and then hopefully, in turn, provide a continued outlet or solve for those frustrations.
Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what gives you the most pride?
This is a really tough question because I’ve been able to achieve some unique things that really do instill a sense of pride. I would have to choose becoming the founding global communications chair of the Womxn’s Alliance Network (W.A.N.)—one of 2U’s internal Business Resource Networks—and then being selected as its global chair after my first term. Despite the frustrations of growing a group dedicated solely to pursuing the diverse interests and needs of womxn at 2U, it has been by far one of the proudest moments of my entire career. The opportunity to be the speaker for all 2U womxn is something that humbles me every day.
Rachel is the global chair of the Womxn's Alliance Network (W.A.N.) at 2U
2U recently announced its 2020 No Back Row Award winners, all of whom were recognized for their commitment to one of the company’s nine Guiding Principles. What does this honor mean to you?
For being in a role that is hard to quantify its value, this honor means everything. And for someone who tries to do their best to take care of everyone, I feel I am being shown that same care in return. There’s no greater feeling than being recognized for hard work and diligence in a role that is committed to ensuring a better workplace for all 2Utes.
In your own words, how would you describe the guiding principle you epitomize: Make Service Your Mission?
To me, Make Service Your Mission means that you do everything in your power (and then some) to ensure that those you are responsible for are getting your absolute best every single day. Providing the best in service is at the core of who you are and guides how you make decisions professionally and personally.
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At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.