“The seven-year-old me would be beside herself,” says Jessica Misener, as she considers her current role as Deputy Editorial Director at news and entertainment website BuzzFeed. “I wanted to be a writer from the age of six or seven,” she says. “I would spend hour furiously writing short stories in notebooks and making my mom read them. I was a voracious reader and loved everything about words, and I’m so lucky now to get to edit and write for a living.”
“There’s a special camaraderie that comes with the pressure cooker environment of the IB,” she recalls. “My favourite part was watching classic movies in Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and discussing them afterwards – and then that blissful feeling after graduation when you’re actually clutching your diploma in your hands.”
But she walked away with more than a certificate. Jessica’s IB studies also provided her with valuable lifelong skills.
“My plan after finishing my Masters was to do a PhD and become a professor,” she says. “I applied to some programs, but I didn’t get into Yale, which was my number one choice. That was a crossroads for me–did I love academic study enough to move to a new school and devote the next decade, and the rest of my life, to its pursuit?”
Ultimately, Jessica decided to begin writing again. She took a position at Yale’s rare book library and spent her evenings and weekends as a freelance writer, before securing a full-time media role in New York. Her journalism career has proved equally diverse, and she’s covered an eclectic range of topics, including contributions to Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan magazines. For the last two years, Jessica has worked at BuzzFeed, known for its irreverent mix of humorous lists, celebrity gossip, picture stories and breaking news. She has experienced first-hand how technology shapes our world.
“We’re undeniably more connected than ever, to the extent that social media is real-life communication: it’s not a cottage industry, nor in my view is it diminished in some way by the fact that we are communicating behind screens,” she says. “Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram: these things are the future of interpersonal interaction, so I see no need in decrying them as modern scourges.”
However, she’s wary that it can go too far: “I don’t think social media is a bad thing at all, but I do push back against the constant pressure to ‘share’ every detail of your life to a virtual audience. It turns relationships into performances, and intimate social settings into ‘see how cool my life is!’ placards,” she says.
In her fast-changing environment, Jessica is unsure what the next 10 years holds. But, as long as she can have a daily positive impact on someone’s life, she knows she’s heading in the right direction: “Whether it’s by volunteering, listening or just writing something that makes people smile, I’ll feel satisfied,” she says.