Q: “Sweet gig. How’d ya land it?!”
A: Here’s the CliffNotes version:
It all started with a dream…as most things do. It didn’t happen by accident. Since I was in middle school, I dreamt of working as a journalist. I wrote my 6th grade career report about the role of an anchorwoman. I fan-girled over seeing Susan Siman in person. But in high school, I told myself a career in television was not realistic. And according to early 2000s world wide web research, it didn’t pay all that well. And so I shelved the idea. I don’t think I ever told a single soul about my ambitions…perhaps, I was too worried I wouldn’t be encouraged to pursue them.
In high school, I ended up getting my poms team’s picture in an issue of CosmoGirl magazine and my coach joked that I should go into public relations. I was intrigued by what seemed to me at the time a somewhat mysterious field…(cue daydreams of girlbossin’ Olivia Pope-style).
So that’s what I did. I attended UW-Oshkosh and majored in Journalism with an emphasis in PR and advertising. I’ve always been excited by marketing and PR – even to this day. I’m fascinated by how and why people do the things they do, say the the things they say and buy the things they buy. The very fascination with the “inner thinking” of people is exactly what I believe also intrigued me about hosting. There’s actually quite a bit of overlap between the two, at least for me.
Anywho, I digress. I graduated from UWO in 2010. That year pretty much sucked for college grads. I ended up finding a Craigslist post from a PR agency in Chicago that was looking for a temporary assistant. It was a foot in the door and that was all I needed at the time.
Then I moved back to Madison and continued working in marketing for the next couple of years. During that time frame, I was also competing for a spot at Miss Wisconsin. It was my pageant journey that re-ignited my desire to do something a bit more public-facing…
I started flirting with the idea of doing some on-camera work. I heard Discover Wisconsin was recruiting a new host and so on a whim – without any expectations whatsoever – I submitted a video. And – surprise, surprise! – no one called me. (Womp. Womp.) But I did become Facebook friends with the digital guy there. (Hi, Michael! 👋) I reached out and again – without any expectations – asked whether there’d be any chance they’d let me guest host an episode. They didn’t say yes but they didn’t say no. We did keep in touch for a year and a half. Eventually, the managing producer (sup Chadd!) reached out and asked me to “dust off my video camera and record a few lines.” And that’s where this gem of an audition video comes into play:
Shout out to Alan Ruby for graciously helping me out ☝️ I can’t believe this was four years ago. (FYI: The cell phone number featured in the video is no longer mine.)
And then to play the rest of this out like a 1980s conversation between two teens…
They go: “Part-time gig as an on-camera host?”
And then I go: “Full-time or no-time.” (Totally would’ve accepted part-time…)
And then they go: “Alright, fine.”
Thanks to my marketing background, the production company offered me a full-time position that involved on-camera hosting as well as marketing strategy. (I’d say 90% of what I do revolves around marketing and brand management in general. Hosting is my fun ‘side job,’ if you will.) In other words, I marketed both skill-sets to my prospective employer: my marketing know-how + half-developed knack for being in front of the camera – plus my passion for all things Wisconsin.
This is the most important thing. For anyone looking to break into TV/media: Don’t try to mimic my path. What worked for me probably won’t work for you. I wish someone would’ve drilled that into my head 10 years ago because I found myself obsessively researching the career paths of people that were doing things I wanted to do. No two people experience the exact same path. HOWEVER, there are always – without fail! – several underlying common themes, like perseverance, hard work, laser focus, open-mindedness, entrepreneurship and even dumb luck.
Sadly, there’s no magic bullet for getting exactly what you want out of your career. But to quote one of my favorite late night TV hosts: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” This is a formula that does work every time – I’m sure of it.