Did you know that Rewards Network sends out millions upon MILLIONS of emails every year that promote our network of restaurants to over six million customers?
Now that you’re done wowing, it’s good to know one of the faces behind all that effort! Kortney Markham puts his heart and soul into getting these communications out every day, and he took a little break to chat about what it’s like to work at Rewards Network, how the environment compares to other jobs he’s had, and what he likes most about working in downtown Chicago.
What do you do here at Rewards Network?
I am an email developer in the Marketing Department. I take the creative work and add dynamic code to it. It’s basically A LOT of coding. I have seven brand partners I am responsible for — and always more to come.
It’s a lot of trial and error, especially in moving over to a completely new email platform. We had to relearn a lot, particularly in terms of how the restaurants display in the emails. But it’s really going well. Now we know the new system like the back of our hands.
What does your day-to-day look like?
First of all, I get in early, walking a bit downtown before 7:30 a.m. I have a Fitbit and am in a little war with everybody who has Fitbits in the office. If you see me walking around, it’s because I’m trying to beat them. [laughs] And everyone’s out to beat me.
But the day really starts with whatever email needs to be looked at or QA’d (quality assured). Sometimes there are a lot of changes, whether it’s copy or from the creative side. You really need to figure out, “OK, if I mess with this, hopefully it doesn’t break this thing over here.”
And sometimes things that “aren’t a big deal” at the start become a big deal, and you end up downloading emails to different devices to check them out and figure out the problem before sending.
One of the things I do love about Rewards Network is that it’s quiet. Stressful, but not that stressful. Of course you want to get the job done, and there are all these different deadlines, but none of it is impossible. I’m a stroke survivor, so to come here — and work in this environment with such a wonderful team — is just a refreshing experience.
Everybody is just so nice. When the CEO walks past and he knows your name, that’s a big deal. I came from a much more buttoned up work environment. So now, every day I come here, I’m so grateful that I get to work here. It’s amazing to interact with everybody. There are so many nerds, too!
What’s your favorite part of working at Rewards Network?
You know, the work is gratifying. I’m a part of sending quality product to someone. I want to make sure it’s good. I also learn a lot. Even when things look simple, the simple stuff is not always easy.
But it’s also the people that I’ve gotten to know. My manager and the overall environment is fantastic. I’ve recently had eye surgery, and to be comfortable knowing that we’re still getting the job done — even with challenges — says something. It’s so gratifying to me, and I literally want to go around hugging everyone! [laughs]
Is there anything you’ve learned here that you don’t think you would have learned elsewhere?
This might sound funny, but to trust the team. I’ve worked in environments where I’ve basically been on my own, without the backing of anyone else. If you failed, you failed by yourself. And it would be known that you failed. So, you worked afraid to fail.
The team here knows that mistakes happen and it’s OK. True story: when I first got here and was still learning the ropes, I made a mistake, working on an email that ended up having to two messages in it. But the whole team was like, “It happens. It’s alright.” I was devastated, but to have my team be a team and pick me up was just great.
Do you have a favorite food or restaurant?
This may sound weird, because my favorite restaurant is Dunkin Donuts. I love their coffee. I just absolutely love everything there. My wife will be like, “We can go somewhere else, you know.” But I just love Dunkin Donuts.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
Oh man. What do I not do?
I love to go to basketball games. I love to go to comic book stores. My wife and I are planning to go to San Diego Comic Con next year. We love to go to the movies. I love cartoons. I just love nerdy things.
I also love that, working downtown, I get to interact with some of the homeless people down here. I talk to them a lot. There’s one guy in particular I talk to every morning.
Years ago, right after I had my stroke — years before I knew I’d work down here — I saw a video of a man talking about how as a homeless man, he was still a human being. I remember distinctly thinking, if I can get better and survive this, I’m going to help everybody I can. So, while I’m Fitbit walking, I’m out talking to homeless people, encouraging them, and letting them know that they’re loved. And that they’re good people.
I wish I could do more. That’s really my dream. I want to open up a homeless shelter. That’s my ultimate dream.
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