Get to know some of our College of Media alumni. Isabel Morales (BS '13, journalism) is the media relations manager at The Nature Conservancy. Morales also participated in a Media Career Night alumni panel on "Nonprofits" in Spring 2022. Watch a recording of the session here.
Why did you major in journalism and how has it influenced your career path?
Majoring in broadcast journalism came from following a passion of reading, writing, and pop culture growing up. In high school I worked on the interviewing and design/layout of our school newspaper, which played a role in my decision to major in journalism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As a freshman I got involved in The Daily Illini as a page designer, allowing me to try out so many different aspects of news later on such as editing and radio segments. Having the ability to dip into different areas of interest, I fell in love with the production side of journalism! So I found an internship at a local TV station practicing pulling segments as a news anchor. I got my first broadcast journalism job at WNBC, which fostered my ideal company culture with the amount of nurture and willingness to learn from each other. I then moved on to a concept producer for an NBC affiliate in Chicago, where I would work overnight cutting scripts and writing articles. After my time in NBC, I had a complete lifestyle change where I became a PR coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry. I realized at this job that I enjoyed storytelling and being a voice for a brand. My current role is with The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization, where I use my storytelling abilities through visual media, producing news, and being a reporter.
What is one of your favorite memories as a College of Media student?
For one of my broadcasting classes we had to check out equipment, one being a giant tripod. I remember being on the Quad with my classmates feeling silly with all the equipment we had to have tracking down students for a quick quote, but having my peers who were also so passionate in this career made this memory so sentimental to me. After being on the Quad we would all go edit our pieces together, learn from one another, and form an inclusive environment. The College of Media being a small college really unites and promotes a close-knit community, which I found in my classes and being a part of the college overall.
How do you think the College of Media prepared you for your career?
The college prepared me in so many ways! Connecting with your classmates, special guests, professors, and resources go a long way. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in general has endless opportunities with internships, professional development events, classes, and overall embraces you to explore new and a variety of things.
What are three skills that you think a Media student needs to be successful?
First, be curious! Curiosity innovates ideas and interests. Second, be transparent with yourself and the work you are accomplishing. Know why you are pursuing what you want and be transparent with who you are working with to maintain clarity. Last but not least, be flexible. There are going to be days where you have a variety of things to do or things that may not go your way but having the ability to adapt in your environment will go a long way.
What advice do you have for current Media students?
Try out what you can and what you have time for! Don’t overwhelm yourself; quality over quantity. I’d also say to put yourself in a space where you can have a continuous drive, be encouraged, and have confidence.
Who inspired you?
Everyone I worked with at The Daily Illini! The DI has talented, curious, and warm people with limitless motivation to explore new parts of the field, which really refreshed and influenced me to achieve anything I put my mind to. I also met my husband at the DI!
What are you most proud of?
My entire career journey. I came a long way and feel empowered looking back at my decisions and accomplishments. I’m also proud of not staying in a traditional career track. The people I surrounded myself with in both a professional and friend capacity always influenced me to grow and do what I love. I found that the more I challenged and strived for all my desires I felt fulfilled. What I am proud of now is being in a role and environment that stimulates growth with each other but within your own skill set as well.
—Interview by Emily Campos, New Voices Intern