During her time as a graduate student in the College of Communication, Elizabeth Traynor (COM ’18) served as a senior editor for The COMmunicator, a research assistant to Professor Vigil, and a presenter at the National Communications Association Conference for her research on First Ladies in the Media. Traynor currently works as the Communications Lead at Converse, and was recently a Creative Mornings speaker for Boston.
In our conversation, I picked her brain about her achievements, along with any advice she could lend to rising BU alumni aspiring to follow in her very large footsteps.
Nicole Toppino: You attended George Washington University for your undergrad before receiving a graduate degree at Boston University’s College of Communication. What did you major in during your undergrad at George Washington?
Elizabeth Traynor: When I was at GW, I majored in journalism and mass communications. After GW, I did freelance journalism, but then sort of went the more traditional communications route. I then decided it was time for a new challenge. I wanted to go back to school, so I did my research, and I applied to the strongest communications programs I could find. And as you know, BU was one of them. That’s how I ended up at COM.
NT: During your time at COM, I saw that you published a few pieces and you also worked for The COMmunicator. Can you speak a little about that?
ET: I did! Yep, I was an editor. I loved it. In college, I was an editor for my student newspaper at GW. I knew I enjoyed working with writers and contributing to an overall publication. It was like being able to do that again. It was a fun, sort of call back to my college experience.
NT: That’s impressive… so as someone that really took advantage of all COM has to offer, what were some of your most significant takeaways?
ET: I learned a lot about the importance of really dedicating yourself to the process and taking your time with the process. I learned through COM that if you are working on a communications team in a business environment, it is important to take your time, be collaborative, and get it right.
NT: Were there any notable people at BU that helped shape your career?
ET: Yes, I had two. Dottie Clarke, you know her, she is in charge of The COMmunicator. She was instrumental in pushing me to become a better writer but also to take on leadership positions within COM and in The COMmunicator and just believing in me. Also, Tammy Vigil. She is a professor at COM, and I was her research assistant. Early on, she suggested that I write a research paper on my own and submit it to the National Communication Association for consideration at their annual conference. She just helped me find and navigate an incredible opportunity that I don’t think I would have even known to look for if I didn’t work with her.
NT: She’s great, I’ve had her as a Professor myself. What was your research paper topic?
ET: I examined how Michelle Obama and Melania Trump influence their public persona through the interviews they sit for in fashion magazines. So, the Vogues, the GQs, the Vanity Fairs of the world.
NT: Any interesting findings?
ET: Yeah! There is a theory of communication called the Feminine Style, and basically, without getting super into the weeds, it’s a theory that captures characteristics of how women in the public eye use certain tropes to enter the public eye and create a softer, less threatening persona. I found that they both use that, but they use it in very different ways.
NT: So, right now at Converse are you in a journalism role or something different?
ET: I’m a Communications Lead at Converse…Global Employee Communications. So, it’s more of a traditional internal communications role. It’s basically acting as in-house PR and brand engagement for our employee community.
NT: Can you talk a little bit about how your journalism experience has aided your career in your current role?
ET: I don’t think I would be as good of a writer as I am without my background in journalism. I learned the structure of good writing. I learned how to interview and how to ask the right questions. And I learned how to write quickly.
NT: What was the process of applying of applying to work at Converse?
ET: I was first acquired at Converse in a contract role, and they just needed a contract communications person to come in and work on their operations team. And then in mid-summer, a role opened up on the Global Communications team. So, I applied for it and was hired mid-summer. But then I actually had to then juggle being here full-time and finishing up grad school. Everybody was super supportive at COM, which I really appreciated because it was so difficult to navigate both that I don’t think I could have done it without the kind of support I got.
NT: Wow, that’s very impressive! What is a day in the life like at Converse?
ET: Oh man! It’s filled with great shoes and amazing people. No day is the same, and that’s a total cliché, but it’s really true, honestly. Every day is just so different here because it’s so fast-paced. We’re working on all kinds of things from product drops to community engagement to communications.
NT: Does everyone wear Converse to work?
ET: Yep! You would be impressed by the amount of style and customizations you see here. It’s really cool.
NT: Stressful question, but where do you see your career going in the next 5-10 years, either within Converse or beyond?
ET: Ideally, still at Converse in the next five to ten years! Hopefully still working in communications and engagement, and just continuing to help bring the Converse narrative and story to life because I really believe in what people are doing here, and I believe in this brand.
NT: What advice can you give to COM seniors who are about to graduate and enter the workforce?
ET: I think that you need to cast a wide net and you need to be accepting that you might not find your dream job right out of school. You probably won’t, and that’s okay. I didn’t. You’re going to have to start off as the low man on the totem pole. It’s okay to have to learn stuff all over again. It’s okay for you to feel like you’re starting from scratch. That’s sort of the point of entering the workforce, and it’s the exciting part.
Nicole Toppino, Staff Writer
Nicole Toppino is a senior majoring in advertising at BU’s College of Communication. Originally from Los Angeles, Nicole enjoys traveling, loves nothing more than a good plate of pasta, and has a low-key-high-key obsession with the Great British Bake Off.