“When I let go and allowed myself to be curious, a whole new world opened up.”
Audrey Emerson is a winter-start MSLCEr and a full-time Associate Financial Planner at Cultivating Wealth, a female-owned comprehensive financial planning firm. Audrey’s financial background makes her a rare find within the cohort, as most MSLCE students worked or aspired to work in the creative industries, but she started her career just like most of us in the program. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a Film Studies degree in 2017, Audrey worked as a documentary and commercial producer for both the non-profit and corporate sectors. She traveled worldwide, from Tanzania to China, supporting artists and storytellers to make a difference in the world with their art.
n 2019, Audrey moved on to work as an Associate Producer for Netflix’s Internal Production department, making onboarding videos and marketing content. For many people, Netflix is the pinnacle of a creative professional’s career–it’s where most people want to end up and stay for as long as they can. When the pandemic hit, Audrey noticed that she no longer experienced the same love and obsession for creative works that everyone else in the company had shared: “I fought it for a long time…I kept thinking maybe there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to lose my identity as a filmmaker and a creative to something else.”
Feeling lost and confused, Audrey turned to a close friend and discovered a potential career option, which she had never considered but sounded utterly intriguing: finance: “my friend asked me what’s the one thing that I would do for fun all day long, and my answer was budgeting! It was such a small but natural part of myself that I didn’t even notice before.”
To explore what the finance industry has to offer, Audrey took online courses and passed the Certified Financial Planner™ exam after studying for nine months: “I wouldn’t have allowed myself to move forward with financial planning if I hadn’t decided that it was okay if I was wrong. I figured if I took this class, worst-case scenario, I would learn a lot about financial planning and move on. Best case scenario, I would discover a whole new career, and the best case scenario happened! When I let go and allowed myself to be curious, a whole new world opened up.”
In her job at Cultivating Wealth, Audrey encountered many creative clients; she noticed a gap between the creative population and the financial planning services they need: “the question I had was how can I help artists live more financially empowered lives by filling that service gap.” Hoping to find an answer to the big question, Audrey came to the MSLCE program: “I chose MSLCE because I felt like it would allow me to answer that question, in a way that an MBA or an economics degree couldn’t… the program is perfect for those who are looking to do something a little out of the box because you’re able to customize your own experience.” Moving forward, Audrey sees her future career as a continuous learning endeavor: “I’m still early in my career, so I want to keep educating myself on the financial needs of creatives and as a finance professional. My 10-year goal is to be at a place where artists and creatives come to when they have financial questions that they can’t answer themselves.”
by Olive Mingxuan Ju