History Major, 2002
Senior Vice President, Programmatic & Data Strategy, Assembly Media Arts and Sciences, New York City; husband, and father to two amazing boys
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 15 years since I graduated from F&M and joined the working world. September 11, 2001, is my first memory of my senior year, before any job hunting or career thoughts come to my mind. I remember hearing about the attacks before heading to my first class of the day with Professor Doug Anthony. We watched the events of the day unfold in a classroom full of other students who came to our room because we had a TV. Looking back, it was a surreal moment, and an important time in not only all of our own personal histories, but also in the history of our country.
Post-9/11 was not exactly an auspicious time to be job hunting. In addition to majoring in History, I minored in Film Studies and studied with Professor Dirk Eitzen; as a senior, I explored any and all job opportunities in the film world. Ultimately, I pursued a master’s degree in Film Studies from American University. I then moved to New York City, where I learned that, in the film industry, positions are office focused, trade focused (electrical, set building) or focused on people/process management. I ended up working in the people/process management branch of film primarily because of the things that I learned at F&M.
When you go to a liberal arts college, you realize that much of what you learned was how to think critically, manage your time and coordinate with others. You also learn how to speak in front of an audience, be comfortable in your thinking, and manage a bit of chaos (at least that’s what I got out of it!). All of those things are what you experience on film and TV sets. My job for over three years was to work on film sets and manage the actors. For anyone who had a line, it was my responsibility to get hair and makeup ready, have the right script for the day, get to set on time, not get lost while trying to get to set and manage the myriad of fun personalities of actors. I’ve worked with amazing people (Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Cameron Diaz, Colin Farrell) and some not so great (I’ll leave those names out for now, but Cop #2 could easily be as big of a pain as an Oscar winner). The film industry was fun while it lasted, but I eventually knew I needed to move on.
Today, 8+ years later, I work in the digital advertising space for an ad agency in NYC. Like film, advertising is something really anyone can do and learn, as long as they can organize, articulate and convey their thoughts in an intelligent way. For anyone looking for a role in advertising, I’d recommend pursuing it right out of F&M, as technology around us is changing greatly, and each of you reading this probably engages with more devices and machines than you even realize. Within advertising, and specifically digital advertising, you can see the inner workings of companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram and others while also creating new and cool ways to speak to audiences.
Like many of you who are thinking about what to do next, during my last semester at F&M I had little to no idea what I was going to do with myself. Looking back, I realize that that was completely OK. Your journey can start in a completely different place than where you end up, but know that everything you experience along the way will help you be better at whatever you choose in the future. My time at F&M taught me a lot of things, and I had some amazing professors I still communicate with now, so remind yourself as you’re starting to freak out about a future graduation date that not knowing what you’re going to do isn’t a bad thing!
"When you go to a liberal arts college, you realize that much of what you learned was how to think critically, manage your time and coordinate with others. You also learn how to speak in front of an audience, be comfortable in your thinking, and manage a bit of chaos (at least that’s what I got out of it!)."