Name: Joanna Piacenza
Title and Organization: Associate Vice President of Industry Analysis at Morning Consult
Graduation year and degree: 2009 BA in Journalism
Many J-School alums find their career paths to be non-linear. After graduating, many find themselves trying jobs or internships in industries they never would have expected. However, regardless of where they end up, their skills in critical thinking, communication and collaboration developed in the J-School help them find success wherever they land. One such example of a unique career journey is Joanna Piacenza (BA’09). We caught up with her to hear how her journey took her from the J-School to AVP of Industry Analysis at tech company Morning Consult.
When it comes to your career, what are you most proud of?
The unconventional path that I took. After wanting to pursue a career as a journalist amid a recession, I went from graphic designer to English teacher to religious studies graduate student to magazine staffer to data editor. I used to get imposter syndrome — especially living in Washington D.C., surrounded by people with arrow-straight career paths. But that wide range of experiences gave me insights that I don’t think the typical career path would have offered.
Today, I lead Morning Consult’s industry intelligence team, identifying trends affecting key demographics and industries and providing insights on what companies should do next.
What’s the best advice you have for a J-School student who wants to do what you do?
Seek out several mentors. I have a small, trusted group of advisors I regularly consult for professional advice. Some of these mentors are in my field; some of them aren’t, but each brings a distinct perspective. I try to practice this same concept everyday professionally, embracing a range of thoughts and opinions to help inform my decision making.
When we say “J-School,” what do you think of?
Beyond the great memories I have of my J202 cohort, the J-School instilled in me an understanding of the power of technology and media in shaping our discourse.
For example, during a senior seminar, Dr. Katy Culver forced our entire class to sign up for a new platform called “Twitter.” She insisted it would be the next big thing. I quickly became an early Twitter adopter, which I am grateful for some days and only occasionally remorseful about other days. But what Dr. Culver and others at the J-School taught me is that the best way to leverage technology is to be at its forefront and become part of that disruption. That’s a lesson I carry with me today.