2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Melissa Atanasio, University of Pittsburgh

Melissa Atanasio

University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration

“Blending passion with profession in music marketing.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a twin! (And we make music together as a passion project. You can check it out under “Meli Anne” on all streaming platforms!)

Hometown: Lancaster, PA

High School: Garden Spot High School

Major: Marketing & Human Resources Management

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Brand Management

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Music and Entertainment Business Association: Co-Founder & Vice President

First-Year Team Leader / Teaching Assistant: Introductory BUS10 Course

American Marketing Association: Public Relations Committee Member

Key Creations Consulting Group: Photography & Videography Sub-Committee Member

Media Association of Pittsburgh: Member and 2022 MAP Scholarship Recipient

Milton Fine Endowed Fund: 2022 & 2023 Scholarship Recipient (Awarded to one CBA student with an interest in arts organization management.)

Pitt Business Career Internship Scholarship: Two-Time Recipient (Awarded for completing a semester-long, unpaid internship experience.)

CBA Global Experiences Award & Provost/Chancellor Scholarship for Study Abroad: Awarded towards program costs of the Pitt in LA Program.)

Women Who Rock: Volunteer at Annual Benefit Concert

Dean’s List: Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

Where have you interned during your college career?

Piada Italian Street Food: Marketing Intern – Pittsburgh, PA

Piada Italian Street Food: Social Media Intern – Columbus, OH (Remote)

PromoWest Productions / Stage AE: Marketing & Promotions Intern – Pittsburgh, PA

The Growth Exchange: Digital Marketing Intern – Los Angeles, CA (Remote)

Audacy, Inc.: Events, Promotions, & Marketing Intern – Pittsburgh, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? I am still searching for my next opportunity, but I am striving to work within marketing for a music or entertainment-based business!

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? As cliche as it sounds, “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!” Most of the opportunities I’ve had the privilege of taking on have been from putting myself out there and starting conversations. No matter how daunting it may seem, connecting with someone may be the start of your next opportunity! People are more willing to help than you may think, so it is always worth it to start a conversation. You may even be able to help them as well!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? What has surprised me most about majoring in business is the ability to select a niche. As I began considering a business education, its versatility and transferability was a key factor in my decision to pursue it. However, I was surprised to discover that the expansive, transferable foundation was going to enable me to select a niche and develop my personal brand. I may broadly be a marketer, but I’ve developed niche skills in music marketing, Google Ads strategy, influencer marketing, and brand management. This specialization has better enabled me to align my career path with my skills and passions.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? Reflecting on my journey through business school, if there’s one thing I could do differently, it would be to practice more self-compassion. The drive to immerse myself in every possible opportunity was overwhelming, leading me to hold up to seven jobs and internships simultaneously. At times, I still led myself to believe that my efforts were never quite enough. Looking back, I now realize the significance of balance, and of finding a blend between striving for excellence and recognizing the value of rest and reflection.

If I had the chance to do things differently, I would encourage my past self to take a step back occasionally, to appreciate the journey, and to understand that making mistakes is a natural and invaluable part of learning. I would hope to understand sooner that true success in business school, and in life, is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Reflecting on my undergraduate career, I am most proud of Co-Founding the Music and Entertainment Business Association (MEBA). This organization pairs passion with profession to help students and industry professionals to connect with one another. From building our branding to managing our social media presence, this organization has given me the creative freedom to bring together all that I have learned. Alongside our executive board of five, it has been an honor to grow this community throughout my senior year. Coming to Pitt, I knew there were music-based opportunities in the city, but I did not know where to start. This is the organization I wished existed when I came to Pitt, so I am honored that I can play a part in helping other students to find their path into the industry too.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most would have to be Benjamin Leighow. Ben is a rising junior, and President and Founder of the Music and Entertainment Business Association (MEBA). Ben has a passion and spark for this industry I had yet to find in someone else, paired with the ability to take charge as a natural leader. It has been an honor to work alongside him to create this organization and a privilege to become his friend.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Thanking just one person for my success is incredibly difficult, but I’d have to thank my mother. It has been an honor to have her by my side from my initial visit to Pitt to every move-in and move-out. It is truly admirable how she’s always been there, on the phone or a quick visit, ready with just the right words of encouragement. I know this transition may have been difficult, but I am incredibly grateful that my mother and father have always encouraged me to follow my passions, no matter how wild they seem or how far away from home they may take me. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your unwavering love and support!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The top item on my professional bucket list would be to work full-time in a marketing-related role at a major record label such as Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, or Sony Music Entertainment. This industry means everything to me, and I would be honored by the opportunity to be a part of it on that scale!

As a more specific item, it has always been a goal of mine to work with my favorite musician. I would be elated to eventually work on a campaign for Australian pop artist, Troye Sivan.

What made Melissa such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“I will waste no time getting to the point- Melissa is easily one of the hardest-working students I have ever met. Below I will showcase examples of why I stand by this statement, but to see someone with such a positive, inspirational attitude while singlehandedly funding herself through school, working several jobs at one time, maintaining internships, and standing at a 3.6 GPA, it is hard to find a comparable individual!

As the Associate Director of Program Development and Adjunct Faculty at Pitt Business, I met Mel when she was a student of mine. Melissa was considered a transfer student and knew she needed to dive in quickly to keep up with the rigor of the business school. As faculty, the students who put in that extra effort to engage, ask questions, and seek out resources stand out immensely. Melissa made it a point from the start to work on developing herself professionally, may that be through growing her soft skills or hard/technical skills.

When Melissa is looking to develop her skills, she wants to “share the wealth” so to speak. She doesn’t gatekeep a skill. She wants to share it with others and help those around her so they can also grow. Melissa and I discussed ways for her to become a marketing professional and the obvious next steps were for her to be certified in Google Ads and MOZ Search Engine Optimization. She enrolled in a program called the Digital Marketing Institute here at Pitt Business to develop these skills and pass the exams. Obtaining these certifications presented her with an internship with Paida Italian Street Food. She didn’t stop there though – she shared her skills with the team and was asked then to train others that summer on Google Ads to help grow their presence, platform, and employees. Any skill she develops, she shares, and I find that trait to be so empowering.

There are several aspects that I would love to highlight regarding her passion, professionalism, and character. I teach a lecture course (BUS10 – Your Academic and Career Success) for roughly 340 students. I knew I needed a strong Teaching Assistant and Melissa was one of the first students to come to mind. Providing not only her experience to the students, but academically being a support and teaching them through scheduled office hours, helping with assignments, and keeping students on task providing me immense support and the students someone they could comfortably go to who could be a mentor. As she wraps up her senior year, she is now the lead Teaching Assistant, training others who will follow in her footsteps.

I wouldn’t be serving Melissa justice if I didn’t speak to the creative side of her work. She is a student, a marketing guru, and a force to be reckoned with. Over the years, we have discussed her career path. She has goals of being in the music industry, a notoriously tough industry to break into. That has not phased her one bit. Melissa knows her worth, her skill set, and took that out to the industry to find internships in line with her goals. Finding ways to marry creativity with business in an industry that is not easy to break into was fascinating to watch, and for her to be successful in doing so! She has obtained internships with Stage AE as a Marketing & Promotions Intern, Audacy as a Promotions Assistant, participated in the Pitt in LA program and did freelance marketing work for music promotions.

I write this with a smile on my face knowing how deserving she is of this nomination but also knowing how humble she is regarding the work she does. Melissa is an outstanding individual and has been an asset to the Pitt Business Class of 2024.”

Rebecca Rhoades
Associate Director of Program Development / Adjunct Faculty
University of Pittsburgh | College of Business Administration

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