Editor’s note: This is third in a series on how recent Union alumni are faring in the job market.
The days when a student’s biggest stress was if his mom packed a cosmic brownie in his lunch box are long gone, but that doesn’t mean his biggest stress now should be what he will do after college.
Meredith Gunn graduated from Union in May 2012 with a bachelor of science in Business Administration. Since then, she has opened and operated her own business in Jackson, Miss., called Gunn & Co.
Gunn & Co. is a political fundraising firm.
Her clients include political candidates looking to raise financial support for their elections. Once hired, Gunn leverages clients’ personal networks, as well as her own, to generate support.
Gunn said her favorite part of the job is introducing clients to influential people in the industry or district and potentially planning a fundraising event.
“I oversee every aspect of planning the event, from creating invitations and decorating to generating a solid guest list,” Gunn said. “No matter the need, my goal is to make the financial aspect of running for office as stress-free as possible.
“What I do is a convenient service, but fundraising can make or break an election; convenience with something that important is often worth the cost.”
After graduating from Union, Gunn earned her master of Business Administration degree at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss.
After graduating in July 2013, a friend involved in political firms called to say his company was expanding and that he needed help on the campaign management side of elections instead of the social side.
He planned to focus on this by sending out mailers and researching voting percentages.
“He knew that I was personally interested in politics and asked if I would be willing to contract with his corporation so that he could outsource that side of the business to me,” Gunn said. “I jumped at the opportunity, formed Gunn & Co., and I now take on all of his clients by default.”
Gunn & Co. has been working in conjunction with another firm, and it also represents trade associations and other year-round clients such as politicians and other individuals who would prefer consistent “brand management” and fundraising support.
For example, the group may hire a lobbyist to track legislation regarding the industry.
“It is similar to [InterFraternity Council] and the fraternities; they’re all different, but there is a core group that represents the interests of the whole,” Gunn said.
“These types of associations and people also require fundraising, whether that means obtaining corporate sponsorships or maintaining regular communications with steady supporters.
“If we take a step in this direction, I would oversee that aspect of brand management for these clients.”
Gunn came to Union in 2008 wanting to be a nurse and decided her sophomore year it was not for her.
She then contemplated a Communication Arts degree but decided that a business degree would give her the flexibility and stability she desired.
“I love having a business degree because the possibilities are endless: owning your own firm, working for a major corporation or taking your knowledge of business into another field, she said.
“The cool thing about our society is that every industry incorporates some business concepts in its operations, so the degree is very applicable to many fields.
“All that to say, my choice to head in this direction with Gunn & Co. was honestly a pretty spontaneous decision to jump on the opportunity when it was handed to me.
“Here was an opportunity to work in a field I loved, to use some of my greatest strengths, and to interact with people with whom I already had a connection or who would love to get to know.
“It has just been a perfect fit, and I am so thankful for this answered prayer,” she added.
Gunn added that her family has been supportive and helpful.
Her father, Philip Gunn, Speaker of the House of Representatives in Mississippi, walked her through the legal side of setting up and owning her own company.
As the Speaker of the House, Philip Gunn’s connections have been invaluable to Gunn and she said she couldn’t have gotten the company off the ground and operating without her father’s and his connections’ help.
Gunn was an active member of Chi Omega Fraternity and served as Panhellenic Delegate her sophomore year, Panhellenic Chair, her junior year and Secretary of the National Panhellenic Council and as Recruitment Chair during her senior year, which she says was her favorite.
She also was heavily involved in Union’s Student Government Association, starting with freshman council as a senator, class secretary her sophomore year, vice president her junior year and, finally, president of the senior class of 2012.
Gunn said she misses the relationships she had while at Union and didn’t realize how much she would miss everyone once she could not see them every day.
“You don’t realize how much you are going to miss seeing the same people every day until they are no longer [wherever] whenever you need them,” Gunn said.
“Some of my best friendships have come from Union, and I am so grateful for my time there.”
Gunn’s advice for current and future students comes from freshman roommate and close friend Mary-Beth Bragg, which is to “love God and do what you want.”
“I think we pressure ourselves to come up with the exact right answer, the perfect choice, for how we live our lives,” Gunn said.
“GO trips, camps, friendships, and your choice of major are all blessings from God, and we can rejoice in enjoying these things simply because He gives us the grace to do so.
“College goes by too quickly to second guess and play it safe. Take chances, put yourself out there [and] be honest about what you really want and go after it.
“Surround yourself with people who encourage you and support you, but always make friends with people who think differently than you, and learn from their perspective. Challenge yourself, and be OK with failure.”