jonny zemola

Say hello to Jonny Zemola, a third-year studying marketing and arts entrepreneurship. You can find him in the business office as the general manager of NC State Student Media. 

Although this is Zemola’s first year as general manager, he has been involved in the business office since his second week as a student at NC State. During Wolfpack Welcome Week when he arrived as a spring admissions student in 2020, he decided to attend as many events as possible in order to make friends. Little did he know the business office would be a huge part of the rest of his college career.

“I was like, ‘I'm a marketing major, this is a marketing job, and I have free time with my schedule, so I'm just going to try this out,’” Zemola said.

Zemola’s history with the business office has been long, but this is the first year he has held a position of such high rank. Because of COVID-19, Zemola had to adapt to both the in-person office and his new position quickly. 

“My two previous years, I was a media consultant,” Zemola said. “Last year was my first year, since I got the job ... and then two weeks later we all got sent home for COVID. And then last year I was on campus, but all of our classes were online, so there was no print [ad sales] going on. So it’s my first year full-scale [in 2021]. And then I have the responsibilities of a manager, so it's kind of acclimating to it all going at its full speed while being the person to run it.”

This acclimation to running the business office was not necessarily intimidating to Zemola, however, since he did have some prior experience before jumping into his role. Zemola said he’s done marketing for his record company, and also some work driving referrals for a small-scale grass-mowing operation. 

That work is a bit different from the roles Zemola plays in the business office as the general manager. The day-to-day duties of his position consist of talking to clients, checking emails and helping staff members with anything they need. Given his role though, ad buyers always take priority.

“I facilitate the team members and I have to respond to my clients,” Zemola said. “I have anywhere between 30 to 50 clients of my own, but I have to contact them from time to time. Especially ones who are currently running ads within our publications. ... It's always clients first, and then handling the stuff that my boss has given me for either that day or to get in contact with the other members.”

Outside of his day-to-day duties, Zemola has added some things to the business office he hopes to be remembered for, including a game to boost the energy in the office and get students excited to do their respective jobs.

“I made this board game for staff members to play to encourage them to work more,” Zemola said. “There's a cash prize at the end. ... It involves tracking all their emails, phone calls and conversations with their clients to make sure that they're reaching out to enough clients and they're doing enough research on the client so that they can sell to them and they're doing their job effectively.”

Zemola has also focused on the other students in the office by adding specific positions for certain members of the business office like social media manager. The importance that Zemola places on the students is something he prioritizes while in office, because he wants to be remembered as someone who “did my job with the best intent of the students in mind.”

Zemola said his favorite part of the job is gaining real life experience. He says what he has learned through the business office will be valuable in his future endeavors. Working with Student Media, the business office works with less of an ad load than major companies, but the work is still comparable and will translate well in his work after college.

“It's still the same exact scenario that would happen in the world in terms of talking to clients to figure out what they want and then being smart with their money that they give us and then doing the task at hand,” Zemola said.

Throughout the time he has had in the business office at NC State, Zemola said he has learned valuable skills that will help him upon graduation. Although he has many more plans for the future, Zemola will be remembered for his optimism and the emphasis that he places on his team members in the business office. 

“I want to do music full time, but I want to know how to market myself in the music field instead of having somebody else who doesn't know the intent behind my art or misconstrued my words or my end goal,” Zemola said. “Knowing how to do everything myself is the most important thing.”