Archaeology Student & Media Technologist Jessica Goldfin On Finding The Ampersands In Your Career

What experiences as an archaeologist taught 27-year-old Jessica Goldfin about community-building games, newsroom convergence, and innovation in any occupation.

As an undergraduate student of art and classical civilizations at Florida State University, Jessica Goldfin helped excavate ruins. Today, as special assistant to the president at the Knight Foundation and an advisor at the nonprofit Games for Change, she’s helping not only create the future of media but building better communities, too. Here, she explains how she’s spun internships and an eclectic resume into a career where innovation is the only constant.

FAST COMPANY: You have an undergrad degree in Art History and Classical Civilizations--how did you end up working at the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that supports journalism and media innovation?

JESSICA GOLDFIN: When I finished undergrad, I wanted to be a career archaeologist. I like being in the dirt. After school, I got an internship at the Art Institute of Chicago in their publications department, which was the only way I could get in there. At the end of the internship, I was offered a job that was below the poverty line. Instead I went to the University of Miami and started a master’s program in communications studies. I realized that if you can’t communicate what you’re doing, it doesn’t really matter how great the work is--people won’t understand it.

What gets you so excited about the work that Knight is doing?

The Knight Foundation gives out $110 million a year for projects that support informed and engaged communities. We work across several areas, at the cusp of the future, trying to find people and innovators in whatever sector that can help pull journalism and arts forward. Every day there’s something different. How do you train your mind to see connections and overlap? All of us here are a bunch of workaholics driven by passion--we just kind of want to do stuff that’s progressive, not necessarily in the political sense but in the sense of, how do we move forward?

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About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.