2015 #MasonCOMM Alum: Chelsea Norman

by Marina Li

2015 #MasonCOMM Alum:  Chelsea Norman

From Washington D.C. to Seattle, communication alumna Chelsea Norman has gathered rich experience in media production and advertising and excelled since graduation.

Graduated from George Mason University in 2015, Norman received a degree in communication with a concentration in media production and criticism and a minor in sustainability.

Norman currently serves as a digital advertising analyst at Wheelhouse Digital Marketing Group in Seattle, Washington. She works with clients from a range of budget levels and industries, including retail, medical, and finance.

Being a part of the advertising element of their clients’ marketing strategy, Norman oversees and manages clients’ search, social, and display advertising. From ad design to building campaigns and conducting performance analysis, Norman does it all.

There is never a dull moment with Norman’s position. “It’s been really fun and challenging,” said Norman, “Every day, I’m learning something new. There’s this constant push for betterment.”

Approaching her two-year mark working in the advertising industry, Norman explained, “What I like about advertising is that on the front end, you get to be really creative. You can think about who you want to target with your advertising and come up with this creative concept of how you’re going to make it really incentivized. On the back end, there is the data. What story is this data telling us? It’s a great marriage between the left and right brain.”

From Media Production to Advertising — A Bird’s-Eye View Into Norman’s Career Journey

Throughout Norman’s undergraduate studies, she has had three internship positions that better prepared her for her career. With her role as the technology intern at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Digital Animal Behavior Lab, she set up a video management system to track animal behavior and patterns, which helped hone her videography skills. Norman’s outstanding performance earned her an internship extension, from the original six months to a full year.

Norman later served as the videography intern for non-profit Our Daily Bread and a communications intern at the U.S. Climate Plan.

The aspiring young professional graduated with the goal of serving as a production assistant at a news station. However, her career path took a slightly different turn.

Norman received an opportunity to work as a digital advertising specialist at NBC12, Richmond’s number one news station. Even though it wasn’t her desired position at the time, she took a leap of faith and never looked back.

“It was kind of an accident,” said Norman as she reflected on the happy detour, “I really enjoyed advertising and everything that came with it. I didn’t end up ever wanting to steer back to the news side.”

At the award-winning news station, Norman’s responsibilities range from campaign optimization and data analysis to digital media planning and managing 89 agency and direct clients. She received the Ultimate Performer Award in December 2018 for obtaining the highest new business revenue, incremental revenue and overall budget.

Alongside her tight-knit group of talented colleagues at the news station, Norman learned a great range of valuable skills in a short period of time — skills she is now applying at her current job at Wheelhouse Digital Marketing Group.

The Launch of Norman’s Success — The Department of Communication

 “Interactive, resourceful, and fun” are three words Norman used to describe George Mason University’s communication program.

“We have such great professors that are really engaged and are always pushing you to go beyond and push yourself,” said Norman.

Norman also emphasized the numerous opportunities and resources George Mason communication students have access to, given the campus’s proximity to the D.C. area.

Norman 2The department of communication offers numerous networking events for students to network and find internship and career opportunities, including career fairs and the annual Communication Career Forums.

These opportunities allowed Norman to build professional connections, practice her networking skills, and discover different organizations in the field.

Additionally, the alumna commended the interactive nature of the hands-on communication courses she took, including her videography, article writing and radio workshop courses.

Other classes that stood out to Norman were interpersonal communication and business communication. These two fundamental courses taught her the basic anatomy of the communication process. They allowed her to understand how to effectively approach communication, which is a crucial skill to have in the workplace.

With curiosity and motivation to grow, Norman was involved in multiple communication-related organizations alongside juggling internships with a full-time course load.

Upon taking Professor Rodger Smith’s radio workshop course, Norman enjoyed this new-found medium and became a Radio DJ at WGMU Radio, George Mason University’s radio station.

norman 3Norman and fellow communication alumnus, Thomas Shaw, hosted their own radio show, “The Decades.” This led to great opportunities, such as being invited to host the spring Drag Show on campus.

Throughout Norman’s two years of working as a radio host at WGMU, Professor Smith saw her drive and passion. Impressed by her work, Professor Smith nominated and awarded Norman the Communication Student of the Year.

“Chelsea produced quality shows while at WGMU,” praised Professor Smith, “Her show, The Decades, was well-organized and great to listen to. I was always impressed with her professionalism and pride in her work. I’m so proud to see her succeed after graduation!”

Aside from WGMU, Norman was a co-founder and secretary of the George Mason chapter of Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), which was founded in 2014 with a few other communication students. She was also the producer of “Late Night Patriot,” a student-run news segment. 

Words of Wisdom for MasonCOMM Students

With five years of post-graduate experience, the George Mason alumna offered valuable pieces of advice for current communication students.

“If an opportunity arises to get your foot in the door. Do it. Take that chance,” advised Norman, “And be your own advocate.” Even if it means having tough conversations.

When asked about key skills to have in the communication industry, Norman highlighted adaptability and creative problem solving. “Communication is and will always be a chameleon. Think about the evolution of radio, to TV, to digital platforms, and now applications on our TVs,” explained Norman, “It’s constantly evolving and changes how we communicate to audiences. Audiences are also going to change.”

In communication and other industries, there is a lot of problem solving required. “Part of the solution is having the creativity to come up with the fix.” said Norman.


PR News List

George Mason’s department of communication was recently named to the PRNews Education A-List, a roster of the top 35 educational institutions advancing the careers of PR and communication professionals in the U.S.  Mason communication majors can choose to concentrate in public relations, journalism, media production and criticism, political communication, organizational or interpersonal communication as well as minor in other cross-department subjects. The department provides students with a blend of theory, research, and hands-on experiential learning to prepare them for the wide variety of careers in professional communication.