Story of My Life: Mary Zubritsky, Senior Copywriter

From a young age, I had been fascinated with fashion and makeup and dreamed of working in the fashion industry and writing for a magazine…Cosmopolitan, to be exact.

Years later, I moved to New York City and settled into my first apartment on 73rd Street on September 1st, 2001. On the morning of September 11th, I set out on my first run through Central Park and was plugged into the local hits radio station when they announced the terrorist attacks. I was lost and panicking in the middle of the park. Two of my roommates were in the Towers…they survived and immediately left NYC. The internship I had moved to New York for was cancelled, but I didn’t want to leave.

I got a job as a cocktail waitress at NYC’s newest hotel where we hosted New York Fashion Week parties. I waited on a bunch of girls from Cosmopolitan and pitched myself to them as they slurped down martinis. Voilà! They brought me in as a fashion intern.

Fashion is My Passion

My office at Cosmopolitan was the fashion closet (I even got to keep some items from it). I attended fashion shoots, ran errands for big-time designer offices, hired models, and helped choose the winner of their model search. It was a dream come true.

From there, I went onto a magazine called First for Women where I was in charge of makeovers, photoshoots, beauty products, expert interviews and I even got to attend and cover all the big opening parties, movie premieres and product launch events. Since magazines pay you in glamour, not cash, I also worked a weekend waitressing job for four years straight to cover my rent and bills.

After some time, I jumped to the other side of the industry—public relations. I handled major up-and-coming fashion brands while reviving a few others. The makeup artist Bobbi Brown was my main client, and I followed her wherever she went. When she did make-up for a shoot, I was next to her taking notes. When she did the models’ makeup for the fashion shows, I was backstage with her. I was also a fixture at the shows themselves, either reviewing the collections or trying to calm down clients.

Later, I became a freelance reviewer for the Zagat Guide and snagged a full-time job in advertising at Macy’s where I handled event copy. Ever heard of the Thanksgiving Day Parade? I wrote collateral for everything from the initial invites to the newspaper ads and signage. A former boss then brought me to Victoria’s Secret, which was a very challenging position because the voice needed was so specific.

Then, realizing I had only worked in print, I took a small step backwards and joined the web team at Saks Fifth Avenue. Yes, the corporate discounts are as amazing as you’ve heard!

Life-Changing Decisions

I wanted to be closer to my family in Baltimore and was ready to move back to DC, so after 14 years in NYC, I decided to make the move on my own and began applying for jobs. Since I had many big brands on my resume, I figured it would be easy…I was so wrong.

I learned many brutal truths about moving to a new city later in life:

  1. My past work experience wasn’t relevant. Writing about fashion is considered frivolous, not serious. I had applied to over 100 jobs and only heard back from about a half dozen. It was brutal. And if I found something slightly relevant, they’d pay much less than I was making.
  2. My industry wasn’t supported. My past work was in B2C, but DC is a B2B city. The joke was on me when I decided to look for a fashion job in DC. Want to work in the government? Go to DC. Want to work in fashion? Go to NYC, Paris, London, or LA. End. Of. Story.
  3. Work culture is very different. NYC’s work culture is hardcore. You come in at 8:45am and you leave at 7pm. People are chained to their desks. You work quickly! Everyone is stressed, but still fun and chatty. Eyes would roll if you took a lunch break. My experience in DC was completely different.
  4. I didn’t fit in. I moved to DC wearing my NYC fashion, rocking 6” Saint Laurent platforms, and was loud and animated. I tried to make friends and was shunned. I never had problems like that in NYC, but in DC, everyone thought I was too much.
  5. I reinvented myself and found the new me. After months of trying to become someone else, I met my current boyfriend who accepted all my quirks. Then, my best friend from NYC (who also worked in fashion) moved to DC and we got to be over-dressed fools together! After two years, I started to meet others who had moved from NYC and were also in similar situations, so we bonded and became each other’s support group.

Making it Work in DC

My first job in DC was as a Communications Specialist for the federal government. To put this into perspective, I went from an office on 5th Avenue in NYC to a secluded government compound in Rockville, Maryland. I had no friends and there was little work. I was bored and lived in a studio apartment in Cleveland Park with bugs everywhere. I constantly regretted my move and seriously considered moving back to New York.

After almost a year and a half in the role, I got a job at a commercial firm and was beyond thrilled! But again, they didn’t have much work for me, my team was in a different city, and the work culture wasn’t right.

My brother, who works in the software industry, had encouraged me to apply for jobs in tech. Of course, I knew nothing about tech, but I felt more self-assured because I had finally shed the fashion girl image and had government and finance on my resume!

I noticed an AvePoint job posting for a copywriter on LinkedIn and my brother encouraged me to apply. I took his advice and the rest is history.

Getting to the Point at AvePoint

I began my journey as a Senior Copywriter at AvePoint in July 2017. Having met Dux (AvePoint’s Chief Marketing Officer) a few weeks prior, I was blown away by his energy and passion. I also liked that he had lived in NYC! I knew this role would be challenging—after all, I thought the cloud was an actual cloud that followed your phone around, and I knew nothing about software. However, my move to DC taught me that I am quite the chameleon, very adaptable (hello, my #2 StrengthsFinder strength), and I was selling myself short in New York City.

Under the direction of my manager and team, I hit the ground running and started to assist with the rewrite of our website. However, I often struggled to understand what everything meant. Going from a right-brained role to a left-brained one in a completely different industry is NOT something that happens overnight. While I spent many hours studying on my own, I discovered that software is something that builds naturally and over time—you can’t cram all of this knowledge into one weekend.

Now that two years have passed, I am incredibly grateful for my experiences here. I’ve gotten to write everything from our massive website, to our internal product launch posts, customer emails, brochures, stickers, blogs, witty one-liners, and more! Every day a new challenge pops up and I love it. I feel like I’m constantly learning at AvePoint, and that is a big part of what was missing for me at all my other jobs. It’s impossible to be bored here! Plus, Microsoft is doing a bunch of great things, so it’s awesome to ride this wave alongside them.

I’ve met so many amazing people at AvePoint. I’ve told others that I think we do an outstanding job of choosing people who are a great culture fit and have become great friends. AvePoint is my second family in the DC area, and one that pushes me to go farther than I ever thought possible.

As for getting my fashion fix, I have been freelancing for a DC-based fashion startup for almost a year. And I still shop like I get the Saks Fifth Avenue discount!