‘Absolut’ely educational: Senior promotes vodka

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John Paul Goguen The Daily Illini ME Online

By Jim Vorel

By Jim Vorel

Staff writer

Jill Bajorek sits, hair bleach-blonde and smiling, clutching a purse bedecked in multicolored hearts. She’s short, but seems to radiate an exuberance that can be seen when first looking into her unique, striking brown eyes. And it’s a good thing, because in Bajorek’s line of work, being striking is part of the job description. Not many people on campus have the opportunity to be Consumer Educators, but this 21-year-old is one of them.

To most people, she is simply an Absolut girl.

Bajorek, senior in LAS, works for InVision Marketing Solutions several nights a week as an Absolut girl, one of a select group of ladies who attend events in order to raise awareness for their product. When she’s not working at the bars, Bajorek works alongside fellow Absolut girl and Urbana resident, Lisa Berlan, at BJ Grand Salon and Spa as a stylist.

Berlan described her relationship with Bajorek as being “almost like sisters,” with all of their similar jobs and interests.

Bajorek said she enjoys working as an Absolut girl.

“It’s a ridiculous amount of fun,” she said. “It’s almost as if we’re being paid to go out and have fun a couple of nights a week.”

Having fun is not Bajorek’s only responsibility as an Absolut girl when she is out for a night on the town.

“We go around to everyone in the bar and tell people about the promotions that are going on that night,” Bajorek said. “I guess our main goal is to get everyone to want our product, Obviously, we want people to drink our products, and we want people to associate nice girls like us with our product and certain days at the bars. We want people to think, ‘Hey, when those girls go to Brothers on Thursdays, they drink Absolut.'”

It is also Bajorek’s job to operate the contests and giveaways that InVision Marketing Solutions comes up with to have at the bars where they will be working that night, with a far range of possible events.

“We give away T-shirts, concert tickets, game tickets and even trips,” said Berlan. “We’ve given away trips to places like Jamaica, Las Vegas and New Orleans. They can be so easy to win, too, just by winning a little contest.”

Such contests include offers as a “best hand” contest, where the person that gets the biggest hand of applause can win a free trip across country. Other contests also include dance-offs, and even Illini Pride competitions where contestants vie to come up with the best Illini-themed body painting to win.

“People really appreciate getting freebies,” Bajorek said. “You wouldn’t believe how crazy people go for something as simple as a T-shirt.”

Lately, Bajorek and her compatriots have been working to promote Absolut’s newest products, Absolut PEARS, a new pear-flavored vodka. They will host a gala event at Guido’s bar in downtown Champaign, to be scheduled in coming weeks. They will also host a pre-Mardi Gras party, a small group of customers will win a drawing for a free trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans at the end of the night.

“It’s amazing that you can go to a bar one night, and later that night, be on your way out of town with a free trip and accommodations for Mardi Gras, but it’s really possible,” Bajorek said.

But for all of the glitz and glamour of her job, Bajorek is quick to point out that she is not just an Absolut girl.

“I am going to go for my Ph.D. in psychology,” she said. “I’m going to be in school for five or six more years at least, which is daunting, but I’ve applied to grad schools like Loyola, Northwestern and Michigan, and I’m waiting for their decisions. My goal is to eventually have my own practice. I know it’s going to be hard to achieve, but I love psychology and am willing to put in the effort to make it happen.”

And while she works in the bars, she feels that she has matured somewhat past the typical college bar-goer.

“I think I’m past the ‘going out to party’ stage of student life down here,” she said. “When I’m not actually working at the bars, I don’t go to the intense ones. I’m ready to sit back and relax with my friends.”

Despite being an Absolut girl, her friends, like Jeanette Lee, senior in LAS, appreciate Bajorek for who she is.

“I always have an amazing time with Jill,” she said. “I’ve known her for about a year and I love her spontaneity. I never know quite where we’ll be when we’re together. She’s just exciting to be around.”

When not working, Bajorek loves sports and is a die-hard White Sox fan. She even had the privilege of attending the first game of the 2005 World Champion White Sox playoff drive. She names Scott Podsednik both as her favorite player and the one she’d most like to date.

“Of course I’m also a Bears fan, but who isn’t these days,” she said. “I’m a serious sports fan – you’ll probably find me screaming in the front row.”

Bajorek embraces the good times and reaches for more. She’s a girl that would be just as comfortable as a fashion model or a doctor.

With a little luck, she may just be both.