Alum’s adventures lead to Met costume collection

By: Anna Carmichael,  A&S Communications
October 16, 2015

“When you graduate college, you don’t have to know what you want to do, but you need to be willing to try a lot of things,” said Nancy Aronson Chilton ’82, chief communications officer at The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chilton, a government major, visited with students Oct. 2 as a part of a Career Conversation event hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences Career Development Center.

As Chilton’s senior year of college came to a close, she said she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She toyed with the idea of law school, but realized she didn’t want to be a lawyer. While at Cornell she worked with WVBR and wrote for “The Cornell Daily Sun.”

“How to write a news story has taught me so much, and those skills have stayed with me to this day,” she said.

After graduating, Chilton got a job writing for a municipal bond firm, and realized this was not an ideal job for her. By answering a classified ad, she got a job offer in corporate affairs at HBO, and took it.

The following year, Chilton joined Burson Marsteller, a public relations company, where she worked with small and large companies and was trained in public relations.

“I learned how to do amazing things,” she said. “ I could write a press release in my sleep; I got media training, crisis management training and so much more.”

After three years, Chilton switched paths, and decided to verge into fashion. After an interview at Ralph Lauren, Chilton eventually became head of publicity.

“This was a super hard job, but it was a wonderful experience,” Chilton said.

Chilton took some time away from work while raising her children, but continued to freelance, “I kept in touch with the people I worked with, and eventually heard about an opening in PR at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

After sending in a resume, Chilton got the job that would lead her to become the head of communications for the department. Her responsibilities include developing content for the media, promoting exhibitions, running the red carpet at the Met Gala, and overseeing social media posts.

“Nine years ago, social media didn’t exist, so public relations has changed dramatically,” Chilton explained.

Chilton said a PR person looks at how people see messages from the outside and explores the best ways to get content across clearly to an audience to accomplish objectives. Some of her objectives with The Costume Institute are to share art and fashion, and inspire and educate those who come to see the exhibitions.

“In PR there are always challenges,” explains Chilton.

Chilton advised students interested in internships to care about their work, be energetic, enthusiastic and to always ask, “what else can I do?”

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