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MSLCE Students Take a Bite of the Big Apple and Connect with Leaders Working in a Variety of Creative Industries

By Chad Hewitt

After spending nearly 20 weeks studying the many different aspects of the creative industries, the 2018 MSLCE cohort boarded planes bound for New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for a week long professional trek. Each trek is designed to offer students with an up-close look at a variety of companies in the different cities while also providing opportunities to connect with industry leaders in a professional setting. The students on the New York City trek enjoyed a diverse tour of several different organizations, ranging from a locally focused arts collective to the international behemoth Facebook. Each of the speakers and site visits provided the MSLCE group with multiple perspectives about the pace, opportunities, and challenges of working in the creative industries in the cultural center of the world.

One of the group’s first site visits was to the Brooklyn Museum, one of America’s oldest and largest arts museums. Students heard from members of the Brooklyn Museum’s curatorial and development teams and learned of the unique challenges for both departments. One of the major takeaways was how both of these teams must consider the marketability of everything they do in order to consistently maintain and grow the Brooklyn Museum’s brand. 

On Wednesday morning, the group met with Mara Webster and Kweighbaye Kotee, from the Tribeca and Bushwick Film Festivals respectively. The two spoke extensively on the various challenges of nurturing a career in the arts in NYC and how they were each able to establish themselves in a competitive industry through passion, hard work, and tenacity. Kotee in particular described how she built the Bushwick Film Festival from the ground up and the crucial importance of community engagement within arts organizations.

On Wednesday afternoon the students travelled to the Araca Group, a live entertainment and merchandise company, to hear from several leaders, ranging from client service representatives to the Executive Vice President of Finance. Each speaker described their own career path and what brought them to Araca, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in working on creative teams. Throughout the talk, the group was surrounded by merchandise from hit Broadway shows and national concert tours of prominent recording artists, including Beyonce and Britney Spears.

The final stop for the MSLCE group was to the New York Facebook offices where they met with Gabrielle Gibbs who leads advertising insights and marketing strategy for ad effectiveness. Students learned how Facebook uses data to develop their visual storytelling strategy and more importantly, enhance the user experience on their social media platforms. Gibbs also lead the group on a small tour of the office space where they were able to engage with interactive exhibits using real time data from Facebook users all over the world.

The group was also given the valuable opportunity to meet with MSLCE and other Northwestern alumni to discuss their own experiences navigating the job market post-graduation. The overwhelming consensus in their advice was that cultivating personal and professional networks is essential for a successful career in the creative industries. These insights were encouraging to the MSLCE students as they begin their final quarter of classes and prepare to launch their professional careers.