"I did my thesis on fathers and sons who play the blues professionally in Chicago. Frankly, at the time, I had no idea how my American Culture degree would be of any practical use once I graduated. But, I have found that nearly every endeavor that I have undertaken has been informed by my studies.
I spent six or so years pursuing a career as a songwriter and recording artist, touring America and learning firsthand about the incredible diversity of experience in the country. I have to say that my ability to empathize with the people that I met and saw along the way was absolutely shaped by the cultural studies work I had done at NU.
I took a job with a branding and internet consulting agency based in Rockefeller Center. Here again, I found my ability to "read" the changing culture of the go-go Nineties a crucial asset, as I went from copywriter to brand consultant, naming professional, to creative director.
After 8 years with that firm, I moved to Microsoft, a former client, and found work first as a brand expert for the company. My first project was to name our search engine, Bing. And I worked on the Windows brand and others as well. Ultimately, in 2012, I moved over to lead the Editorial and Homepage team for Bing, which remains my role. Here again, I find my ability to read the culture and to think critically about the intersection of technology and society comes into play on a daily basis. In addition to the inherent storytelling that is part of the job, I am also involved in questions of bias and ethics with regard to AI in general and search in particular. We address mis- and disinformation challenges, and help people who use our service find a range of credible sources on controversial topics ranging from Climate Change to Holocaust denial to anti-vaccination.
I work in a company dominated by people who think in a logical, often black and white, way. So, I count myself lucky to have a liberal arts background, especially one as steeped in accepting and understanding ambiguity as my American Culture focus. For if there was one lesson I learned from our seminars, it was that there are no simple answers to the most interesting questions we face. No simple summations available for our culture's complex relationship to nearly any topic or point of view. "