Environmental Studies to the “New York Times”: Hyacinth Parker ’17

April 15, 2019
Jane Hobson ’22
Hyacinth Parker
Hyacinth Parker ’17 Photo credit: Courtesy of Hyacinth Parker

At Oberlin, Hyacinth Parker ’17 embraced the liberal arts; she majored in environmental studies with a concentration in urban studies, and minors in creative writing and Hispanic studies. Since graduation, Parker has spent time abroad teaching in Indonesia and working as an arts associate with Third Space Media. She recently started a new job working as a sales planning coordinator at the New York Times.

What did you like most about being a student at Oberlin?

I loved how the Environmental Studies Program allowed me to define my major and pursue the topics I was most interested in. I ran with it and took every class that had to do with cities and urban studies and focused on traveling as much as possible. I went to Havana, Cuba, and Mexico City during two winter terms; I also studied abroad in Brazil, South Africa, and India.

In addition to traveling, I was an environmental studies student representative, played club soccer, took ExCos in swing dance and Understanding Police Brutality, and went to every year's Merengue Madness—one of my favorite nights at Oberlin.

What do you do at the New York Times?

I support the sales team and help them come up with ways to get advertisements in the New York Times. For the first eight weeks, I was very focused on studio and entertainment advertisers for the Academy Awards. I could have told you every Oscar contender, their distributor, and the amount of digital and print advertisements they ran. The New York Times' advertising department brainstorms ways to act not just as an advertiser, but as a consultant for brands. Instead of saying, "this is why Beale Street should place an ad in the New York Times," we focus on the message of the movie and how it can best tell its marketing story.

Hyacinth Parker smiles in a group "selfie" with peers in Hong Kong
Hyacinth Parker in Hong Kong, China
Photo credit: Hyacinth Parker

What has your experience working at the Times been like?

I love it. Part of the reason I majored in environmental studies was that I loved the creative and collaborative component of the classes and the big thinking required to solve a question. At the New York Times, we think about big problems on every level—from incorporating AI, 5G, and augmented reality into journalism, to how to survive and adapt in an era when print is dying, to the function of native advertising. The people here are great, and I'm jazzed about being at a company that is so innovative and forward-thinking.

Do you have any advice for Oberlin students?

One of the most helpful things I did was asking people where they thought I would fit, instead of only sticking to what I’m interested in. I did that my first year of college, and my advisor told me to check out environmental studies. If you had asked me to predict my career path two years ago, I would not have been able to guess that I would be working at the New York Times today.

When I started applying for jobs, I realized that most of the game is telling a compelling story about yourself—where you come from and where you want to go. I think that having a liberal arts degree is valuable because it teaches you how to think and be dynamic, but it also means you have to do a bit of the extra work up front because you can't rest on a hard and obvious technical skill set. I think that designing a story about yourself and throwing out a bold idea can be intimidating, but it helps you create a path for yourself.

In the future, Parker says that she’s interested in doing creative work and joining communities in which people are pushing boundaries. She also hopes to one day attend the Met Gala.

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