Degree from Michigan: A.B. in Communications Studies with a minor in Economics
Current location: Cambridge, MA
Year graduated: 2010
Student Organization Involvement: Pi Beta Phi, LEAD Magazine, Order of Omega
Other jobs held or graduate programs attended since graduation: Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University: Master's in Magazine Writing and Editing
Nicole is a current Editor-in-Chief at Scranton Gillette Communications, a business-to-business publishing company with brands in six major markets. She is in charge of the “Lighting and Decor” editorial team. The magazine’s audience is primarily comprised of retailers and interior designers. On a day-to-day basis, Nicole’s team works on putting out magazine issues every month, so she writes a lot of content for the magazine and its accompanying website. Now that she is Editor-in-Chief, Nicole does a lot more brainstorming/strategic planning and market-facing activities.
Nicole’s experience from Medill to her current position:
NB: I attended Medill’s Master's in Journalism program with a focus in magazine journalism. I finished the program in a year. Right out of Medill I was hired at Scranton Gillette as an intern, writing about topics like building design, healthcare, and water sewage treatment. For the past 5 years I’ve worked my way up the ladder and found my niche in home furnishings – the company is very good about promoting internally. Management here really wants younger professionals to figure out what they’re good at and what topics they’re interested in.
KC: How do you feel your education and extracurricular activities at Michigan have influenced your career path?
NB: As a Communications Studies major, I always knew I was good at writing and that I liked doing it, but I never really thought about journalism until I took a class my senior year at Michigan on new media. In this class we created a blog and focused a lot on social media. Writing was something that I always did for school, but I had never considered writing about topics I cared about for fun. By the end of that semester, I decided to apply for a master’s in journalism program.
KC: What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job?
NB: My favorite part is that I get to write every day, and I get to write about a topic that I’m passionate about. Five years ago, if you had told me that I would be writing about furniture, interior design, and color, I would have laughed, but I genuinely enjoy it now. I would say my least favorite part is that I have a greater role at the company and have to do more budgeting and numbers-related work. I know it’s important, so I take it seriously, but I’d rather be doing creative things.
KC: What advice would you give to students considering applying for journalism graduate school programs:
NB: If you really want to write and you’re not sure what you want to write about, a journalism program is key. I’ve seen a lack of fundamental writing skills in some interviewees at Scranton Gillette. Medill teaches you to write in a compelling way.
Another piece of advice: having gone through grad school and then immediately started working as an intern, in hindsight I probably would have taken a year or two after Michigan and gotten a writing job. If I had gotten a job at a newspaper or publishing house during that time, it would have allowed me to get my bearings and learn about the corporate world before I went to Medill. The people who did that in my class had a much different experience than those of us who were coming straight from school.
KC: What advice would you give to students who hope to follow in a similar career path?
NB: Start writing! Start a blog (even if you don’t share it with anyone), keep a journal, find a passion or area of interest that you enjoy and write about that. Do anything you can to get more experience, even if it’s for free. That’s something I wish I had done sooner – I wish I had practiced just getting my thoughts on paper.