Isabelle Wattenberg ’12

Major(s): English and Russian Area Studies
Concentration: Media Studies
Current Position: Researcher/Writer with the Labor Arbitration Institute in Northfield, MN

What is your current position? What are your responsibilities?

I work as a researcher and writer for the Labor Arbitration Institute, a company that provides continuing legal education courses for labor, management and attorneys. In my position I research court cases and read analyses of court decisions. I look for key insights into judges’ decisions and the influential social factors that contribute to them. This information is used in presentations and online course modules. I also research visuals to be used in the presentations and track down copyright information for the visuals.

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

The position plays to my strengths in research and writing. I love reading court cases and learning not only the rationale that led to court decisions, but also gaining a new perspective on American history. The position also provides an excellent introduction to the field of law, which I am interested in but did not seriously consider prior to beginning the position. It’s also great to live in Northfield—and have time to attend all of St. Olaf’s musical events!

How did you gain the experience necessary for this position?

The research skills I use in my position were strengthened by class work at St. Olaf. Additionally, the rigor of St. Olaf’s schedule ensured that I developed a work ethic well suited to the job, as it requires a great deal of personal motivation and independent work.

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

I’ve found that at my job, I often meditate on discussions from media classes that centered on the increasingly vague distinction between news and entertainment. My company is looking for more engaging and interactive ways to educate its clientele, and so these discussions are very relevant as I consider how to present research in a format that is equally informative and entertaining.

Both my internships, at the Northfield News and at Coffee House Press, gave me experience working in an office setting, communicating with supervisors and coworkers. My internship at Coffee House Press also solidified my interest in working in the publishing field, which I will most likely return to after my time at the Labor Arb.

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

I enjoyed my media studies concentration for a number of reasons; the class discussions and coursework allowed me to absorb numerous perspectives on the subject, and my internships introduced me to different career fields. However, what I value most were those moments when I would unexpectedly run into Professor Sonnega and have the opportunity to pick his brain about the latest New York Times topic. The media studies faculty members, including Piper Center staff, are resources that helped me move beyond the college setting; they are ceaselessly available to discuss how the concentration opens doors to career paths, or simply converse on a new intersection between media and our society.