Claire Carlson ’12

Major: English
Concentration: Media Studies
Current Position: Media Relations Specialist at Ecolab Global Communications in St. Paul, MN

What is your current position? What are your responsibilities? 

I currently work as a media relations specialist within the Global Communications department at Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. In this position, I help manage external content and publications. I help facilitate interactions between the media and our company and develop content for external audiences like news releases and media statements. I also create and post content to the media center of our company website and monitor for coverage generated about Ecolab and related industry news. The nature of the work is that every day is different, and this variety is exciting and refreshing.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in this field?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and editing, and I knew that many media/communications jobs were built on good writing skills. I’m also fascinated by the media cycle and by how the media shapes our perception of the world and our attitudes concerning nearly all aspects of life.

How did you gain the experience necessary for this position?

While I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for your first “real” job, a number of experiences gave me a solid foundation of skills. The fall of my senior year, I interned with WCCO TV in their Communications department. Since I’m currently working on the other side of the news cycle, the understanding that I gained regarding how news is created and packaged is invaluable. I also spent two summers writing for the St. Olaf website and magazine. In this position I learned how to stay on message with a particular story as well as how to consistently communicate the overarching “brand” of an organization. Most recently, I interned at Ecolab, and it’s this experience that led me to my current position.

How did your Media Studies coursework or experiences help you get where you are today?

My Media Studies classes were an extremely important part of my journey, and a big part of why I decided to pursue a media-related career. After every class that I took with Bill Sonnega, I left mulling over some insight that he had shared or wanting to talk to others outside my class about a rigorous discussion or debate that had occurred. As a participant on the Global Semester, I was lucky to learn from Bill again, this time as a world traveler. Media has been an amplifying force of globalization, and it was incredible to witness these effects first-hand.

Any advice you would give a Media Studies student knowing what you know now? 

There are many meaningful jobs that come into contact with media in some way or form, though they might not be obvious at first glance. If you’re interested in Media Studies, give yourself the freedom to explore the multiplicity of professions that don’t fit neatly under a specific title or category.