Music alumna finds early success in digital marketing career

Nekich came to Penn State in 2017 from Allentown to major in music performance with a focus on opera, but after the demanding nature of the program limited her ability to pursue other interests, she knew it was time for a change.

“At the time, I was also learning about the music industry and the business side of things, which led me to change my direction and focus more on working behind the scenes in the tech part and the fan part of it all.” Nekich said.

The shift was natural for Nekich, who in high school freelanced as a social media manager for various bands and artists, including the Aces and Hayley Kiyoko. Her experience in the field of entertainment marketing continued at Penn State, but in 2019 she knew she needed to expand her skills to make it in the music industry.

“That’s when I jumped at the opportunity to intern at the College of Arts and Architecture,” Nekich said. “It allowed me to stay within the college and stay connected to my musical roots, but it also allowed me to run social media accounts for the School of Theater and the School of Music, which made me see it through a different lens.”

The internship also gave her the opportunity to literally look at art through a different lens while exploring her love of photography. Participating in musicals and theater performances honed her skills as an arts photographer, and in May, Nekich photographed a concert in New York by Phoebe Bridgers, who retweeted her work.

“I was amazed,” Nekich said. The shoot was in a stadium and because of my training I was able to work in that environment and it didn’t seem too big.”

During her internship, the COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person events. To keep a creative outlet, Nekich and her peers developed a semester-long Theater School podcast that focused on how arts students were navigating the pandemic.

“It was a perfect mix and the internship was what I was looking for all along,” Nekich said. “I use the skills I learned almost every day and it was a career-changing experience.”

In 2019, Nekich also joined SPA, a student-run club that brings large-scale and small-scale entertainment to the University and partners with the Movin’ On Festival each spring. There, Nekich said she found “her people.”

“I found not only my best friends, but a way to learn hands-on about the industry,” Nekich said. “Whether it was working on social media, taking pictures, choosing artists and working with them on the day of the show, even building the stage, it was amazing and it was something that not many people in the music industry got to experience in college. “

Armed with knowledge, skills and determination, Nekich flew to London, England, after graduation in 2021 to work with singer Baby Queen, but because she did not receive a full-time job offer from the artist, she returned to Allentown to regroups.

“I hit the pavement and I just thought, ‘I’m going to get a job and go to New York and do whatever I can to make it happen,'” Nekich said.

Through networking in a Women in the Industry Facebook group, Nekich was contacted by Aimee Berger, Penn State alumna and founder of Aimsley Management, a full-service talent management firm. The two made a connection and Nekich was hired as the firm’s creative manager.

Nekich also applied to Primary Wave, and through Berger, she connected with Rob Dippold, chief digital strategist and Penn State alumnus. Nekich landed the job and hit the ground running.

“None of this would have been possible without my internship experience and time with SPA,” said Nekich. “At Penn State there are so many opportunities, but you have to look for them. Join a club, go and try something you’re passionate about, and you’ll find that Penn State is what you’re made of.”

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