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I have a story for you. Last year I decided to take an indefinite hiatus from writing employee spotlights. At first, it didn’t seem like too many people minded, but then I had several co-workers ask me when to expect the next one. I’d push back and say there wouldn’t be a next one. After many of them either sighed, gasped, or made (surely harmless) threats, I decided I’d let fate decide my next step.

My life was in the random number generator’s hands. I thought to myself that, if it chose someone I knew would have a killer interview, I’d start writing these posts again.

I gave it a spin and it gave me the number 28. I scanned down the list in curious anticipation and found “#28 - Andrea Hewitt.”

So employee spotlights are definitely back.

I was about to call Andrea our business analyst, but that felt pretty odd. Since joining the RNL team, Andrea has held five different roles in two different departments. She jumped on board as a content writer (you may have noticed that she’s written quite a few blog posts, like the victory post after RNL won Battle of the Brands or the article about creating the perfect company culture). Andrea even took the reins on the employee spotlights for awhile, so this post certainly isn’t new territory for her.

She exemplifies one of RNL’s defining characteristics: growth. As a bright individual who’s eager to learn, challenge herself, and find solutions that benefit her co-workers and the company, she’s able to look at her options and jump in to help the team wherever she’s most needed. When she was on my team, I always noticed and admired that she seeks out the why behind everything she does, and it’s that attitude that has made her successful in all of her roles.

One of the best ways I can explain why I knew it’d be so much fun to write her spotlight is to share what her manager, Beth Donnelly, had to say:

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Plus, she’s always a great person to share a laugh with:

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Let’s jump in.

Amy: So far at RNL, you’ve been a content writer, a local search specialist, and now a business analyst. Walk me through the transitions between those.

Andrea: You actually missed one of my jobs. I was an account manager for three days.

Amy: Oh yes! I thought I was forgetting one.

Andrea: I went from content writer to local search specialist and I did that for almost a year. Alyssa and I had a talk about transitioning to a position with a more well-defined career path. Not long after, she offered me the position of account manager.

We went through the hiring process of getting Lydia, the new local search specialist. I trained her for a week and I started training with Ashley Burgener on account management. It became kind of clear that there wasn’t actually a need for a third account manager on that platform. Then I came into the office one day and Beth Donnelly said, “You work for me now. You’re a business analyst.” And that is how I landed my current role.

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My next goal is to work for sales, clearly, because I’ve worked for all the other departments. And I think we should probably mention that I did QA for a couple months for the marketing suite.

Amy: Oh yeah! You did do that. That’s also one I’m forgetting. Geez, so five roles.

Andrea: Yep. Content writer, local search, QA, account manager, business analyst. I’m just making the rounds.

Amy: So what do you enjoy the most so far? I’m hoping business analyst.

Yeah! I’ve actually enjoyed all my roles. When I was a local search specialist, I had a lot of freedom to research and test. Alyssa handed over the reins and she is an incredible boss, as well as an incredible knowledge source on local search. So, not only could I read about it, but I could also discuss my findings and theories with someone else, which was really exciting. She’s a really great mentor and just a good boss because she’s so encouraging. She kept me excited about the position, even though I knew that it probably wasn’t something I could do forever.

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Now I’m enjoying working for Beth Donnelly. She pushes me beyond my comfort zone a lot, which is really good, because I think that’s a good place to learn. You jump in and get your feet wet, which is what happens with a lot of jobs here.

Amy: Good! Well that segues into my next question: What’s your favorite thing about working at RNL? Along with everything you’ve already said.

Andrea: That’s a toughie! I think that it’s probably that your bosses really care about you. When you put in the effort, it’s recognized. That’s such a cliche thing to say about most jobs, but Alyssa and Beth have done so much for me within my career and even as a person, knowing what I want to do and knowing how to help me be the employee that I want to be. It’s those kinds of mentorships that are really special about this place. That your bosses do really care about you. I feel like it’s something that we say a lot in marketing material, but it’s something that’s really true, which definitely sets RNL apart from any other job I’ve had.

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Amy: Also, hand-in-hand with that is the tight knit community here. The operations department seems, in my opinion, like the closest team out of all the departments. They have the closest bond with each other.

Andrea: What does Beth Donnelly say? Uh… “Ops rides together, ops dies together, ops for life,” or something similar that we cheer over fireball shots.

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Amy: Of course, fireball shots. You’ve also been involved in the kickball league RNL joined. What are some of your favorite moments from kickball so far? I hear that you’re kicking ass.

Andrea: Man, one of my favorite moments from kickball was two weeks ago. It poured all day, so the field was disgusting. It was muddy, we’re playing on this field with bumpy, crappy grass. Home plate was all mud. Everything around the bases was mud. It was terrible, but it was so fun. I’m on first and Paul’s on second. Someone kicks, I run to second, Paul is hit in the head with a ball as he slides past third. I slide past second and I swear I do a half split and reach around to put my hand on the base. I looked over after I knew I was safe and Griffin was the only one looking at me because Paul was just beaned in front of our whole team. Everyone walked away from that game with some sort of injury, but we were so excited that we won in such crappy conditions!

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Another one of my favorite moments is when Beth Donnelly bought Kirkland Brand Signature Light Beer for the first time. And then on Slack, before the party at her house, she just kept saying Kirkland Brand Signature Light Beer. Never just “Kirkland beer.” So that evening I cracked one open. It tastes just like you would expect Kirkland Brand Signature Light Beer to taste. It was like club soda, some old beer, and a fruity taste. But now everyone drinks Kirkland Brand Signature Light Beer. It’s just become a thing for the kickballers.

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It’s just been fun hanging out and doing something I feel like I’m good at with my co-workers outside of work. I have a lot of good memories of kickball. There’s just fond memories of being a team. Everyone is so encouraging to each other. I don’t feel like we need a cheerleading section because Lydia, who plays first base, will tell you when you've done anything good on the field.

Amy: She’ll be there to cheer you on every time you score.

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Amy: Well, changing gears a bit, you mentioned before that you don’t consider yourself artsy. But you are kind of crafty, or at least you built your own kitchen table by hand. That seems a little crafty to me!

Andrea: I think I’m crafty, but I’m not artsy. I’m not crafty, like, I can’t put together a collage. I know my limitations. But I love working with my hands. My wife Jen wanted a desk for Christmas. She just wanted a wooden desk and she told me her vision. We were living in an apartment that had a really large living area but smaller bedrooms at the time. I said, “We can’t do a desk because that wouldn’t fit into either of the bedrooms.” They were pretty small rooms. But I told her that I could build a 9-foot kitchen table! My brother came over and we went and got all the wood and tools we needed. We stained it one weekend and then just built it the next weekend, and it was pretty easy to do.

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When I was growing up, my dad was always building stuff. He was building stairs to the deck or he was building a bookshelf, so I loved watching him do that. I think there’s something really therapeutic about woodworking. Then we moved into an apartment that was the opposite, so the bedrooms are really big but the living space is really small. So the table looks really funny in our new apartment, but I’m hoping that when we buy a house next year it will fit. That or I’ll just build a new table.

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Amy: Yeah! You’re the next Ron Swanson.

Andrea: Ron Swanson! I just want to be a modern day Ron Swanson but I want to eat less bacon so I can live a little longer.

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Amy: Well, of course one of the things I have to ask you about… I’m just gonna say: The Office. Period.

Andrea: Oh yeah!

Amy: What’s your favorite season?

Andrea: Season five.

Amy: Why?

Andrea: I don’t know, I like the character development by that point. It’s not like the jokes are better or the writing’s better. I feel like I just grew with the characters up to that point. That’s when it really sunk in.

Amy: Which character would you be?

Andrea: Oh my gosh. Probably Jim. I like pranking people a lot.

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I feel like we do a lot of that in the ops department. I don’t like pranking anyone in particular though. No one is excluded from ops pranking. Many of my pranks are done with a co-conspirator. I won’t rat them out. (It’s Beth Donnelly.)

Amy: So, speaking of pranks, there have been a lot of RNL pranks that have gone down. I feel like you’ve been a part of some long cons, or at least always seem to be the first to know about everything. What’s your favorite RNL prank that’s happened while you’ve been here, even if you weren’t involved with it?

Andrea: I feel like I haven’t really owned up to the ones I was involved in.

Amy: Oooh! This can be your chance!

Andrea: Ha. I don’t want to give myself away. I don’t know if I have a favorite. I know which one was the crappiest. Amanda was out of the office on April Fools Day. And I was like, “Man, you made a mistake.” I’m really bad at prank ideas because I think really big and then I need someone else to rein me in. Pull me back down to reality. That’s why Alyssa is such a good person to run pranks by.

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So Amanda’s gone on April Fools, which is the first of the month. We flipped her standing desk. It’s backwards, everything’s backwards. Beth Donnelly puts tape on her mouse. So Amanda’s not getting anything done first thing in the morning. And she’s very frustrated because she has to send out the billing. She’s already behind and dealing with a stupid prank her first day back from vacation.

Amanda’s one of my best friends in the office, so I don’t know why I didn’t 100% think that through. Once her anxiety quelled, it turns out we set up her desk more efficiently. So there’s no grudges being held (I hope!). But it was definitely a failed prank.

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Amy: So, when I did the employee spotlights before, I would go to you and ask if you had any dirt on the person I was about to interview. If you were in my position right now, interviewing yourself, what would be the best question I could ask you? P.S. This is the laziest question ever.

Andrea: My favorite question back when I was doing the employee spotlight was “Who’s your favorite person at RNL?” And it’s only because I wanted to figure out who it was and see if I was right.

Amy: Related question: Who’s your favorite person at RNL?

Andrea: Hahaha… I don’t know! If I had to pick just one? Beth Donnelly. Beth Donnelly is my favorite. We have very similar senses of humor and she’s kinda taken me under her wing. I respect her a lot. I think she’s so smart, and she can be really professional at work and then turn it off after. We get along really well. I like her husband a lot. Her cats are cool. I feel like I have a lot of favorite people here though.

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Amy: Tell me something random about yourself. Go.

Andrea: I’m adopted.

Amy: You are adopted!

Andrea: That’s always my go-to random. When I was little, everyone in my school knew I was adopted. My mom would send in cupcakes for my adoption day and my birthday. When I was in school, people would be like, “Oh Andrea, you’re adopted, right?” I’d always say, “I’m not a doctor! I’m far too young to be a doctor.” I stuck with that joke far into my college years. I’ve probably said that in the last three months. I have to watch myself sometimes because Jen works with a foster and adoption resource in Kansas City. I just always thought it was a really funny joke to make, but it’s not as funny to different crowds. But yeah, I was adopted. I feel like that’s a good random fact. I was adopted and I plan on adopting. So I’m keeping that cycle going.

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Amy: There you go. Well those were actually all the topics I was planning on covering. But I was wondering if there was anything I didn’t cover that you would like included in your spotlight?

Andrea: Oh my gosh, so much. You’ve got three hours, right? Hey, do you need me to send you pictures for this?

Amy: Sure. You can just send me pretty much anything you’d like —

Andrea: Anything I’d like?

Amy: Well —

Andrea: You said anything I’d like.

Amy: Haha, I mean. Ideally good quality and big so that they fill up the whole space on the blog.

Andrea: I do regularly take pictures with a flip phone from the 2000s.

Amy: Perfect. And that’s all I have. Thank you!

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