1) First, fill us in on what you are up to these days…
I am currently employed at Big Machine Records, an independent country record label here in Nashville, TN that is very much making major label type of moves. I serve as the Director of Interactive where I oversee the label website and some of our artists websites as well as most of our other digital properties such as mobile and socials. Our artist roster is pretty robust and includes Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, The Band Perry, Justin Moore, Brantley Gilbert, Eli Young Band, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, The Mavericks as well as newcomers Greg Bates and The Voice Season 3 winner, Cassadee Pope. We are also the record label behind the ABC show, Nashville. I am super excited about the music coming out of that show, using all Nashville songwriters and musicians, it’s great for the city and our industry. Check it out!
On a personal level, I recently returned from a vacation to South Africa which was absolutely incredible. Coming up – I will be making several trips back to Nebraska this spring for my grandmothers 90th birthday as well as a friends wedding and the baptism of my newest niece.
2) How has being a Communication Scholar helped you get to where you are now, and how will it help you to achieve other goals in the future?
I think the way that being a communication scholar has helped me get to where I am now is that it makes you so well rounded in so many marketable and employable areas that you never feel as though you have somehow pigeonholed yourself into one position or profession. The course work and exposure to so many different disciplines such as advertising, marketing, public relations, etc.set you up for success and provides you a great foundation from which you can catapult to any number of professions or industries. I had always wanted to work in the music industry while I was at NWU but there is no specific ‘music industry’ emphasis and to be candid I was not aware you could major in such a thing really, at any school, It wasn’t until I moved to Nashville and learned about Belmont University – a specific music industry focused school that I had ever heard of that, however, most of the students I see graduating from that university with a music industry degree have created such a small focus for themselves that it can be difficult to reach outside of this ever shrinking industry.
3) What is your favorite Comm. Dept. or NWU memory?
Wow, I have so many that I remember vividly, even as I am approaching being out of school for nearly 10 years! One of the top ones has to be writing jingles for an advertising class with Sue Schlichtemeier Nutzman. My classmate and good friend to this day Kelly Krause and I still sing our jingles to each other from time to time. Second to that would have to be the Comm lunches, they were always so much fun!
4) What advice do you have for current Comm. Superheroes?
I have two main pieces of advice for Communication Superheroes, (I LOVE that name by the way). Number one is to diversify. Explore all the things that interest you and seek out internships or even a day of job shadowing in that area to find out if you REALLY like it and really understand what that profession entails. My emphasis was Public Relations but after I explored that further I realized that marketing was better suited for me, however I gained experience in both in addition to advertising and copy writing, etc. and all of those things still serve me well today. Due to the ever shifting economy and the explosive growth of industries like technology the more you know about multiple disciplines the better chance you have to always be employed and always be valuable whether for stand alone companies or for yourself as an entrepreneur.
The second piece of advice is do not be afraid. It’s okay to go where no one else before you has gone or do what no one else before you has done. I wanted to work in the music industry as I stated before, so I was seeking out every opportunity I could to get to where I wanted to go and it all started at NWU for me. I interned at a radio station and then I applied for a post-graduate internship at CMT (Country Music Television). I went above and beyond in my application to make an impact including some help with a recommendation from then Communication Department head, Alice Jaswal. I guess it worked, I was offered the internship (and eventually a job), moved to Nashville and I have never looked back! From my understanding, no one else had done that before at NWU but, there was the opportunity to intern at CMT right in the Career Center, so it was there for the taking, I just signed up and did it. I have had many people both from Nebraska and here in Nashville ask – how did you do that especially without a degree in the music industry or without having graduated from the aforementioned Belmont University. Well, all I can say is I tried and I wasn’t afraid to go where no one else before me had gone. I crafted my story to emphasize the experience I DID have coupled with my passion for music. What was the worst that could happen, someone told me no? That would have been fine too, I would have found another way.