One of my favorite things about working at Terakeet is hands down the life-long friends that I’ve met here (spoiler: it’s our Spotlight employee’s favorite thing too!). There’s no better example of this than the one-of-a-kind Allie Kotula. Over the years we’ve bonded over Beyoncé concerts, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and the occasional margarita. She is the friend who can always pick you up when you’re down, and I’m thankful every day to have someone to debunk Kardashian conspiracy theories with.
Besides being a hilarious person and great friend, Allie has become a staple in her own right in the Terakeet culture. The energy and laughter she brings to our office every day is hard to miss, but behind the scenes, she is always willing to do what it takes to produce the best outcomes for our clients. She’s transitioned from one role to another at Terakeet, sometimes even switching departments, and she’s done it seamlessly.
For everyone’s benefit, I caught up with Allie to get the scoop on life as a dog mom and the pressures of being a two-time Terakeet chili cook-off winner.
At one point in your life, you were Scooch, the mascot for the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team. If Terakeet ever gets a mascot, I think you’d be a shoo-in. How did you get that gig?
For the record, I 100% support the decision to get a Terakeet mascot. Anyway, yes, I was lucky enough to be Scooch during my last year in college while interning for The Syracuse Chiefs! I told my boss at the time that I was my high school’s mascot (shout out to the West Genesee Wildcats), so when the Chief’s season ended, I was asked to be Scooch in the off-season. That was a proud moment! I attended a handful of off-season events and a kid’s birthday party I’ll never forget — when Scooch is in your living room and Who Let the Dogs Out comes on…. the rest is history.
Needless to say, it was a lot of fun and I’d like to think it was a nice, post-college resume booster.
In your 4 years here, you’ve transitioned between departments and led multiple special projects. How has your work in one role or project helped you transition to another?
It’s crazy to think back and see how much transition actually took place. I like to think that one of my strengths is absorbing the most I can in a given position/situation. At a company like Terakeet where things are constantly evolving, getting the opportunity to learn and practice strategies in one position and then bring them to another allows you to become a jack of all trades.
It’s funny though because I’ll never forget this one wakeup moment I had where I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought. I had been at Terakeet for over a year, so I was pretty familiar with how everything worked and my supervisor was telling me I was doing a great job. Then came a client call that involved multiple departments and superiors I had yet to work with directly. During the entire 45-minute call, I probably understood about 20 of the words they discussed. Everything was over my head to the point where I went back to my desk to Google things like, “what is a canonical tag?” Those are the critical learning moments that help you transition at Terakeet.
What has been one of your biggest challenges at Terakeet, and how did you overcome that challenge?
My biggest challenge has been trying to convince Terakeet to get a mascot.
In all seriousness, it can be difficult to adapt to change and in my four years here, there has been a lot of it. I’m someone who makes plans for the night and if anyone deviates from the plan, anxiety sets in. However, I’ve learned and am still learning that there are some things that are just out of my control. It’s how the world works, and while it may take me longer than others to adapt to something new, I remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
You were recently featured on Terakeet’s Instagram where you shared advice about not being afraid to be yourself. How has being yourself helped you in your work here?
I often resort to humor in many different life situations. I guess I could blame my parents and childhood friends for always laughing at my jokes growing up, but I should genuinely thank them now because humor is now a huge part of what makes me me.
When it came time to job hunt after college, I knew how important it would be to just let my personality shine through. When you’re in a pool of hundreds of other grads, you need to stand out. I like the people I work with to see how I am, how I operate, and what jokes I laugh at it. I think that makes you easier to work with and it’s easier for management to envision your true path.
“Succeeding at work is a lot like finishing your burrito bowl at Chipotle – you’ve worked hard, you’ve had fun, and you feel accomplished. Everything you do at work doesn’t need to be serious. Not being afraid to be yourself is my biggest piece of advice.” – Allie Kotula, Reputation Specialist #WorkplaceWisdom
As a two-time winner of the annual Terakeet chili cook-off, is there anything you’d like to say to the people who voted for you? Can they expect another show or are you officially retired?
Ah, my favorite subject! Remember how I said I was so proud to be Scooch? This here might be a slightly more proud moment of mine! To my voters: thank you for allowing something so simple like meat, peppers and tomato sauce become the talk of the town for a day.
After my second win, people started to vote against me because a three-peat was just unheard of. So for now, I’ll let the people wait and remind them that absence makes the heart grow fonder. You can find my recipe here!
You’ve been a dog-mom to the beautiful Mila for about two years. Has having that extra level of responsibility in your personal life affected you professionally as well?
I will say that getting a puppy is not easy. I completely underestimated the time and commitment that goes into such a beautiful new fur baby. The one-to-six month range after getting a puppy definitely taught me a side of responsibility I was not familiar with!
I now have (slightly) more patience, and that 100% translates into my professional life. It may sound crazy to some, but I like to think it also preps me for having a family one day. The idea of work-life balance is very important to me.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Terakeet?
My favorite thing about working at Terakeet is 100% my co-workers. I have met life-long friends and best friends at that. Friends who could be in my wedding, friends who I can call if I need help moving, and friends who I can celebrate work and personal victories with. Gosh, it sort of brings a tear to my eye!
Which of our 5 Core Values (Sustainable Value, Integrity, Invention, Entrepreneurship or Rapid Response) do you identify with most and why?
I feel I identify most with sustainable value. No matter what type of job I hold, I like to think showing what I’m good at and what I’m really good at will prove my value to the company. To me, sustainable value isn’t coming up with the next big idea, it’s coming to work every day, engaging with your co-workers, reading something new, suggesting a design edit to a report, offering to help on something you’re interested in, or sending cool client ideas to the sales team. It’s sometimes the little things that happen every day that add up to something big.