Brooke Schlesinger is a graduate of GW's American Studies Department. She has gone on to work at TEDx and currently is employed at Ad Council. We reached out to Brooke to feature her in our weekly alumni spotlight.
How does your American Studies background inform your work in marketing and public relations?
My background in American Studies has proven immensely valuable in my work at the Ad Council. I left GW with an understanding that everything in American culture - our museums, our TV shows, our architecture, our books - is worthy of critique and analysis. The program also gave me the theoretical foundation to analyze our society. I apply this critical lens to each of the multi-media campaigns I develop and I feel a deep responsibility to ensure that my campaigns truly have a positive impact on the world.
What has the transition from living in DC to living in NYC been like?
The transition has been easy, honestly! It sounds cliché, but I’ve wanted to live in NYC since I was a kid and in the five years since moving here, my love for the city has only grown. I enjoyed going to school in D.C. but itched for something bigger, so NYC is perfect for me.
Is there a meaningful moment you remember from your time at GW that stands out?
The moment that stands out to me most was when I took my first American Studies course: The American City. It was a great introduction to American Studies, teaching me how to read the object of the city in a meaningful way. The course, which was taught by Professor Osman, underscored how exciting learning could be. I was hooked on American Studies from then on.
Who is someone that you look up to from your time at GW?
I can’t choose just one! I was inspired by all of my AMST professors, especially Professor Osman and Professor Warren. Their passion for studying American society was infectious and they were always incredibly supportive of their students.
What paths did you take to get to where you are now?
American Studies showed me how influential media can be, in both positive and negative ways. I graduated GW knowing that I wanted to use media as a force for good, to expand mindsets and open doors for people. That purpose gave me a sense of direction after graduating and helped me develop criteria for evaluating potential opportunities. When thinking about companies that used media in a compelling, positive way, I was really impressed with TED. My first job out of college was working as a screener there, helping to evaluate TEDx talks for content and production value. As my contract with TED was coming to an end, I was eager to find a media company that would allow me to develop communications on a variety of important issues. Naturally, I thought about the Ad Council, which I was first introduced to through one of my American Studies courses. I feel very lucky to have been hired there as an Assistant Campaign Manager. After a few years, I was promoted to my current role of Campaign Manager, where I more directly oversee the development and evaluation of my campaigns.
Where do you see yourself going next in your career?
I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, but I’m certain I’ll still be working in media. I’m really inspired by the recent rise of purpose-driven media companies, like Higher Ground Productions. President Obama, if you’re reading this, please give me a call!
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received and what advice would you give American Studies students today?
Find a job that you feel is meaningful. Life is too short to spend your days doing work you don’t believe in.