Madeline Van Winkle ’18 has always had a love for science – you might say it’s in her DNA.
Summer internships open doors and possibilities for Denison University students. In the summer of 2017, Brooke Stiles ’20, a communication major and theatre minor from Akron, Ohio, was able to take advantage of an internship that was made possible by funding through Denison’s Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration.
Stiles, who had not been to New York City on her own prior to this experience, was interested in pursuing an internship around fashion writing and photography. A career counselor at Knowlton suggested several sources for information about internships in those fields. Stiles did her research and contacted Adelle Goldenberg, editor-in-chief of fashion blog GlamSalad. Stiles pitched her the idea of coming to New York three times over the summer to interview and photograph people for the blog.
After seeing samples of Stile’s work, Goldenberg was on board — and Stiles was ready. Over three extended weekends during the summer, she traveled to the Big Apple where she interviewed and photographed Emma Pfaeffle, who currently is playing Veruca Salt in Broadway’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and Taylor Louderman, who recently played Lauren in “Kinky Boots” and is now in rehearsal as the iconic Regina George for a new Broadway musical production of “Mean Girls.”
“They gave me a glimpse into the lives of full-time performers,” said Stiles, who now counts both Pfaeffle and Louderman as friends. “Along with these two Broadway performers, I interviewed Tony Award-winning costume designer Paloma Young about her experiences and asked for her advice for aspiring designers. She even let me play ‘spin-the-top’ with her Tony!”
Stiles photographed and wrote profiles on the artists, which have been published on GlamSalad.com. Goldenberg was so impressed with her work that she offered Stiles a position as a contributing editor for the blog. In her role, Stiles will be sharing the fashionistas of the Midwest with the world.
Making the most of her time in New York, Stiles also contacted Liv Schreiber, the CEO of Latico Leathers, a designer and manufacturer of leather goods for women and men. Stiles was a big fan of the company and had been following it on social media. When Schreiber asked her for a critique and suggestions, Stiles gave her some insightful feedback — and was given an opportunity to prove herself.
“She is an amazing girlboss and woman,” said Stiles. “I was able to photograph for her company, and my photographs are currently being used for their advertising.”
All along the way, her Denison education gave her the foundation to do the work. For example, in Assistant Professor Hollis Griffin’s Media Structures class, students learn about the relationship between social media and cultural power, like how networks foreground some accounts more than others, and how activists take advantage of different platforms to advocate for social change.
“I learned so much about social media and Instagram. I understand what to include and what to avoid, what kind of captions work and the best times of day to post. I’m also using that information as a foundation to build my personal photography page,” said Stiles, who will be doing ‘takeovers” of the GlamSalad Instagram account.
And a “Research in Communication” class with Professor Lisbeth Lipari taught Stiles the fine points of how to do insightful interviews. “I learned that I really needed to record and transcribe every interview. And Dr. Lipari helped me understand how to bring out interesting ideas through thoughtful questions, and format introductions to introduce the subject in a way that really engages the reader.”
“As a professor, there’s little as gratifying as seeing students integrate their education into their lives beyond the classroom,” said Lipari. “Brooke’s experiences testify both to the depth of her learning and to the value of a liberal arts education.”
Through her new connections, Stiles was able to network backstage to some Broadway shows and into the inner circle of some Broadway performers. And her goal of becoming a public relations professional for a Broadway production company is becoming closer.
“I’m so grateful for this internship and these networking opportunities. My writing is only getting stronger, and my journalism skills are keener,” she adds. “I may even have an internship lined up for next summer working within a PR agency that works for Broadway — the dream!”
Your support for internships and career exploration inspires and empowers enterprising students like Stiles to forge connections and build their career paths.