Getting Started in the Proposal Industry

One New Professional Shares Her Journey into Bids and Proposals

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Evelin Gutierrez started her career in bids and proposals in 2018 as a marketing intern for Burns & McDonnell during her senior year at California State University, Long Beach, while working on her bachelor’s degree in English. During the internship, she shadowed and supported proposal managers at the organization, getting a firsthand view into the proposal process and all the work that goes into it.

“Seeing all the moving parts involved during a proposal is what attracted me to this profession,” Gutierrez says. “I loved showing my creative side by creating graphics and layouts, learning about the different AEC industries, writing strategically for different clients and working in a collaborative setting with my teams.”

Now, Gutierrez gets to do this full-time as a proposal coordinator at Burns & McDonnell. And though she’s only been part of this industry for two years, she’s already passionate about her profession and dedicated to sharing her journey with up-and-coming professionals and college students who may be interested in this career path.

“There were so many students in my college professional writing program who had the interests and skills but were lost in their career search,” she says. “There were students with communications, English, graphic design and business degrees with no direction. These are the kind of students who could benefit from learning about the proposal profession.”

Participating in her university’s professional writing certificate program was how Gutierrez was introduced to the field. She took a proposal writing class as a requirement for the program, yet even after taking that course, she didn’t know there was an entire profession tied to proposals. It wasn’t until she started applying for internships that she noticed this, as those were the ones that caught her attention. She hasn’t looked back since then.

“I can honestly say that I am never bored. There is always something new to learn in your first and second year of being in this profession,” she says. “I am learning how to manage different kinds of people during the proposal process and how to hone my writing for a business setting. I enjoy learning about all the services and clients we serve.”

In addition to her day to day at work, Gutierrez is active within APMP. Within her chapter, she participated in a panel during last year’s APMP California Annual Training Day that discussed the multiple generations involved in proposals, and she was a mentee as part of the California chapter’s professional development program. Gutierrez also presented at APMP’s Winning Business Virtual Experience, alongside Burns & McDonnell intern Sara Pool, on ways to introduce college students to the bid and proposal profession (the session received an APMP Palm Award), and she is sharing her passion for this topic as a member of the APMP Intentional Career Path (ICP) Committee.

“This committee is important because we are spreading awareness about a profession that can potentially change someone’s life,” Gutierrez says. “As someone who was lucky to have found this profession right out of college, I thought I could bring valuable insight on how to attract college students. My motivations are also directly aligned with the committee’s overall goal: to spread the word about the proposal profession and to make it an intentional career path.”

When it comes to advice for college students and new professionals who are considering their career paths, Gutierrez says to start by reflecting on your interests and strengths.

“Do you find interest in creatively and strategically relaying a message through graphics and writing? Do you work well and collaboratively with others? Can you stay organized while juggling multiple parts of a proposal, such as gathering info from your team and outside parties, all while compiling your work to create the proposal itself?” she says. “Those are just a few things a proposal professional might do, but if it is something you are interested in learning, then this may be the career path for you. There is a lot involved in the proposal process, but it is what I find the most fascinating, like completing a puzzle. The end product is rewarding when you see all the work you and your team put into creating it.”

This article is the second in a series exploring the APMP Intentional Career Path (ICP) Committee’s initiatives, as well as the efforts of APMP chapters, that are working toward making the bid and proposal profession an intentional career path. Read the first article: Making Bid and Proposal Management an Intentional Career Path.

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