Alumni Spotlight: Nicola Brown

by Jelena Djurkic, MPC 2013

Nicola Brown profile photoNicola Brown (MPC 2014) is a full-time freelancer. It’s not a “title” many aspire to, or are even aware of as an option as kids, but increasingly, it’s becoming a way of life for young professionals.

With a background in English, psychology and publishing, Nicola’s foray into freelancing began in a small ad agency in Toronto. Working as a contract copywriter, the role quickly morphed into a work-from-home position where Nicola could set her own hours.

“It was challenging and I actually hated it at the time … but it taught me some crucial skills all freelancers need to succeed: self-discipline, time management, patience and persistence. When I came out the other side in one piece, I knew I had the ability to pursue freelance work of my own accord.”

She soon grew her portfolio, joining organizations such as Travel Massive to meet fellow travel writers and make industry connections. She’s also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, through which she often finds new contacts or sources of work.

The 26-year-old now freelances regularly for outlets such as the Toronto Star, enRoute Magazine, MasterCard and Cottage Life, to name a few.

The freedom to write based on her interests, set her own hours and be her own boss have kept her in the freelancing game. While she’s had to learn new skills such as accounting fundamentals, Nicola says freelancing has offered her interesting experiences seldom found in a regular desk job.

“The Toronto Star sent me on an all-expenses-paid trip to Montreal recently to dive into the world of circus arts. I knew next to nothing about the circus before going, but the trip allowed me to immerse myself in the subject and meet some really interesting people. The kind of work I do doesn’t just constitute my job; it forms some of my most rewarding life experiences. I’m actually flying out to Colombia in a couple of days and staying with locals on a coffee plantation. I can think of no other career that would let me pursue such amazing opportunities.”

With youth unemployment always in the headlines, Nicola says students coming out of the MPC program should be patient when looking for work after graduation and not take setbacks personally. “Today we’re fed doom and gloom about the state of the economy, but if you work hard, have confidence in your strengths and stick with it long enough, you’ll be rewarded for that.”

You can find Nicola on Twitter @NicolaThinks, or on LinkedIn here.

Fun Facts

Newest obsession?

BBC’s Human Planet

Favourite Instagram?

@chateaugudanes – It follows the story of two ex-financiers who bought a castle in France and are renovating it from top to bottom.

Top travel destination?

I love travelling to places I haven’t been to yet, that I know very little about, or that are very foreign to me. These are the places where you tend to learn the most and, surprisingly, it’s often about yourself.

Software you can’t live without?

Photoshop…and Google-everything.

Website every communicator should be reading?

I read all the publications I aspire to write for one day: Travel + Leisure, National Geographic, etc. I love Fast Company, and I watch CBC news every day.