When I graduated from college, I had not secured a job. It was scary and at times frustrating, but I didn't allow fear to deter me. With every interview, every promising phone call or email, and every near-miss, I intentionally felt the disappointment for a few minutes and then decided, "That would have been fun, and now I'm one step closer to finding something that will be even better — something that will defy my imagination of what's possible." And it happened.
Four and half years ago, I started working full time for a brand and institution that feels so much like home to me and is so much a part of me, it flows through my veins. Four and half years ago, my bosses took a chance on a 22 year old and hired me to help out a little with communications and think about how social media might play a role. In earnest I launched into research and theorizing on how universities should connect to their communities. After producing a 30-some page report, cleverly titled "Social Media @ NYU", I asked if we could hire an intern the following academic year. I've been very lucky that I work in a supportive environment and that my boss responded with "Why just one intern? And why not next semester?" One month later, the NYU Office of Interactive Media was born, with two full-time employees and seven interns.
Over the years we added two other brilliant full-timers and our internship — one semester — had ballooned to 18 interns. We launched a brand — HashtagNYU — to share the NYU story in a way that students could relate to and to put our theories into practice and more fully explain how to reach a student audience (especially at NYU). HashtagNYU is by students, for students and is a digital cheerleader for the University — allowing the Nick Jensens of the world to enthusiastically "fan girl" about NYU. Through HashtagNYU, we are a creative agency and create compelling campaigns to University challenges and foster pride and excitement about our home. We also want others to be better at social media, too, so we act as an inside consulting firm — helping out wherever we can across the University.
From the very beginning, I've been lucky to co-create my job — to figure out just what it is I do day-to-day. A good portion of what I do has changed every six months or so, yet there's always been a thread of building community and improving the student experience. So after being the Manager of Marketing, Communications, & Web-based Technologies for four and a half years, I'm updating my title to more directly focus on what I do: Community & Experience Strategist. It's not that I don't do marketing, communications, or tech anymore — it's that I want to put community and experience at the forefront of my — and others' — minds.
I want to continue improving the student (and alumni) experience at NYU. Universities and colleges are the ultimate example of an experience economy. While a concert may last a few hours and a vacation may last a few weeks (or so I dream about), the transformative experience of college is four years or more, typically, and is an affiliation that stays with us for life. While our brand choices for technology or airlines or coffee may change, we never un-graduate from our alma mater. I will focus even more on what we intend our students experience while they are at NYU, what happens when something goes wrong, and how we can make the best, most seamless experience during their time here and beyond.