Natalie Bortoli '98
Natalie Bortoli graduated from Northwestern University in 1998 with a degree in journalism. Since then, she earned a master's degree in education from Harvard University, and now works as the vice president of educational programming and experience development at the Chicago Children's Museum. She will live tweet her work day on April 21 for Northwestern Career Advancement. Follow along at @JobsforCats. Here, Natalie gives a preview of what her career is like.
What’s the best part of your job?
The people and the culture. I work among dedicated people who have a passion for making a difference in children's lives. At the museum, our job is to make learning fun, memorable and meaningful, so along with that comes a staff that excels at thinking creatively and bringing joy into their work. There is a culture of playfulness that flows through our workplace as well as a genuine respect for each other's diverse perspectives. When your work is to create a healthy and inspiring environment for children, people give the best of themselves.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
Juggling all the disparate tasks that come along with a management position in a non-profit organization. On any given day, I might switch gears from developing broad strategies for the organization, to analyzing our budget, to contributing to a grant proposal, to counseling a staff member, to responding to a visitor, to ironing 1,000 ribbons for an upcoming art installation. The switching of gears happens constantly, so there is a fair amount of brain fatigue.
What career advice do you have for graduating seniors and young alumni?
Never stop being a learner. Even after school is done, continue to be a student. Build relationships with people from whom you can learn. Take on projects that enable you to stretch into new realms. Find opportunities through work, volunteering, or pass times that enable you to build new knowledge, grow as a person, and identify untapped skills and interests. Collect experiences and take healthy risks.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
What do you remember most from your time at Northwestern?
Walking through the doors on the very first day! I wanted to attend NU from the time I was in 8th grade, so it was a dream realized. Beyond that: engaging in classes and conversations that made me look at the world differently; learning how to ask good questions and write with integrity; building friendships that have lasted 20 years. Oh, and the sight of campus on a perfect spring day.
How did Northwestern prepare you for your career path?
As a journalism student, I learned how to dive into issues, build a level of expertise, and communicate that knowledge to others through effective and engaging stories. My career in education came later, but in so many ways, built upon those original skills. In the world of museum education, I delve into all sorts of topics, build expertise, and then translate that knowledge into meaningful experiences from which people can learn. The qualifications are the same: a curious nature, an ability to learn quickly in a variety of realms, and a desire to share knowledge and experiences with others.
What do you hope the Northwestern community learns from your Twitter Takeover?
That hard work can be a heck of a lot of fun when it's done with great people in a great environment. Also, that we're never too old to play.