by Tony Moore
Any English major who’s ever talked to another human being from any walk of life in any situation can probably relate to Lindsey Wakeman Officer ’09 and the question that followed her through her academic career.
“When I was an English major, everyone asked me if I hoped to parlay my degree into a job as a teacher, as though to imply that was one of the very few career trajectories available to me,” she said. “In fact, I think English is one of the most versatile and multidisciplinary studies there is.”
Officer was recently back on campus as part of her Cogan Alumni Fellowship, during which she met with students and presented a talk, “How to Make It in Magazines.”
Officer made it in magazines by taking another of the myriad trajectories available to English majors, and now she’s the brand development director at Hearst Corporation’s Marie Claire, where her focus is on creative development and marketing initiatives. And looking back, she sees her path beginning in a Dickinson classroom.
“Whether I'm whipping up snappy copy for an upcoming promotion in Marie Claire, drafting a video script or writing elegant prose for a luxury client presentation, I credit Dickinson's full-throttle reading and writing agenda for setting me up for success,” said Officer, who was previously Vogue’s senior integrated-marketing manager and special projects manager at Harper's Bazaar. “Also, and perhaps this is a result of the seminar-style of classes that Dickinson is so renowned for, I'm all the more comfortable and confident thinking critically and contributing to larger brainstorms and team discussions, plus prepping for public speaking.”
Before graduating from Dickinson summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Officer had a fruitful marketing internship with Cosmopolitan magazine between her junior and senior years.
“My internship truly ignited my career in magazine publishing,” she said. “It was an incredibly dynamic and rewarding experience, defined by a handful of unforgettable connections that I continue to cherish today and who were instrumental in launching my time at Hearst.”
Now married (to Daniel Officer ’09) with a daughter on the way in June, Officer told other Dickinsonians to let passion guide them.
“On campus and abroad, take the courses that inspire you and tackle topics that pique your curiosity—never do, write or pursue something because you think that's what you should be doing,” she said. “After all, it's the impeccable communication, writing and strategic thinking skills that you'll carry with you and remember long after you graduate, and they're more likely to stick if developed and honed around your passions.”
The Cogan Alumni Fellowship program is named in honor of Eleanor Cogan, a scientist, homemaker and mother who dedicated herself to lifelong learning and to the study of English literature. After taking 52 courses at Dickinson as a returning student, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Dickinson at age 90 for her enduring scholarship. Each spring, the Department of English invites a graduate back to campus to share his or her life and work experiences with current students as a Cogan Alumni Fellow.
Published March 11, 2016