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Finding a New Way to Work in the Creative Industry

After graduating from Hampton University with a degree in broadcast journalism, Jaquise Cofield ’17 was ready to pursue what she envisioned as her dream job: working for a news station.

After spending time in the field, however, she realized that broadcast journalism wasn’t the right fit. To try something new, she applied for an internship with the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, working with Paramount’s acquisitions team. The experience revealed a world she had never considered before: the business side of creative enterprises.

“I became really interested in understanding how the films for the festival were acquired, what the festival was looking for in films, and how everything worked on the back end,” explains Cofield. “I realized I had found a way to work in the creative industry without having to be the person who was ‘creating’ all the time.”

After the internship ended, she decided to search for a graduate program focused on this newfound passion. As she considered her options, Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises curriculum aligned closely with what she was hoping to learn.

“I definitely made the best decision for me in terms of a graduate degree,” Cofield explains. “I learned so much in terms of the business side of working in creative industries.”

Today, she continues to apply much of what she learned during the program. From Professor Pablo Boczkowski’s course, Organizational Processes in Creative Enterprises, she learned how understanding and interpreting what she sees and hears from multiple standpoints and perspectives can help overcome leadership challenges.

Thanks to Adjunct Lecturer Laverne McKinnon’s The Power of Pitching and Persuasion course, she understands how to create connections to the ideas she pitches and knows unique ways to pitch strategies.

What she learned during an entrepreneurship elective has been especially helpful with her work in a startup culture. In 2021, Cofield transitioned to the world of technology when she joined Amazon as a program manager after working with Area 2 Documentary in Chicago and a full-service pharmaceutical marketing agency.

“At Amazon, we have to constantly be in that entrepreneurial mindset to figure out how we can innovate and create delight and satisfaction for our customers. These courses help me do that. I even find myself still going back to notes from class.”

Her role relative to logistics has been vital—especially during the pandemic. “I like what I do,” she says, “and now that my foot is in the door, I want to eventually get into something more creative involving Amazon Prime Video or Kindle.”

Her MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises experience also provides a unique perspective as she grows her Instagram presence at @wellreadandfed. A voracious reader and foodie who was constantly being asked by friends and family for food and book recommendations, Cofield decided to use the platform to share her suggestions—and the channel has now grown to 4,500+ followers who want to know what she’s reading and eating.

“It’s been a joy to do that on the side as a creative escape,” she explains. “It has also opened up many doors to restaurants who want me to try their new menus or publishing companies that offer advanced reads.”

She plans to continue to hone her influencer and entrepreneurial mindset as she creates content and increases her audience, using what she learned from the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program to connect with followers.

These valuable lessons aren’t the only thing Cofield carries with her after graduation—she also built lasting relationships with her cohort. Even though the graduates work in different fields across the country, she says they’re still a tight-knit group.

“So many different perspectives and experiences came together to open our minds,” she explains. “It provided an experience like no other. There’s so much goodness within this program from faculty, alumni, and your cohort, but also from Northwestern at large. Getting to know so many people in different roles helps unlock possibilities. You may think the creative industry is strictly TV, film, or theater, but it’s so much more. The curriculum keeps evolving, and I’m excited to see what’s coming out of this program.”

Read more on our blog and follow Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program on Facebook and Instagram.