MAM Alumni Profile – Cara Weaver ’20

What inspired you to pursue a Master of Arts Management at Columbia College Chicago, and how has this degree influenced your career journey?

Cara Weaver: I’ve always been drawn to the arts, having completed my bachelor’s in Theatre Education. But I wanted to explore how I could merge my passion for live performance, fashion, and music with a solid career path. The Masters in Art Management at Columbia College Chicago was the perfect fit. It broadened my perspective, showing me the variety of career avenues available in arts and business. It was a real eye-opener, teaching me how to be creatively entrepreneurial in the business world.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a graduate entering the workforce, and how did you overcome them to secure your position at Macy’s?

Graduating right when the pandemic hit in 2020 was a curveball I hadn’t anticipated. Suddenly, my career plans had to take a detour. It was a crash course in adaptability. I had to learn to pivot and embrace uncertainty. My journey to Macy’s wasn’t a linear one. It involved taking risks, exploring unconventional paths, and being open to unexpected opportunities. It’s taught me the value of flexibility and thinking outside the box.

Congratulations on your recent promotion to Senior Macy’s Live and Events in New York! What new challenges and opportunities do you foresee in this role?

Thank you! I’m thrilled to step into this role that aligns so well with my master’s degree. Being in a senior role, I’m diving headfirst into managing the complexities of large-scale events and content strategy. It’s going to be a whirlwind of learning and growth, navigating a new part of the company and a new city! I’m particularly excited about collaborating across different departments within Macy’s, from finance and merchandising to the video production team. It’s an opportunity to broaden my skill set and gain insights into diverse areas of the business.

As someone who has excelled in multiple roles within Macy’s, what skills or qualities do you believe are essential for success in the retail industry today?

While Macy’s is a giant in the industry, I’ve found that personal initiative and networking have been instrumental in my journey. Building relationships across the company, seeking out mentors, and actively pursuing opportunities beyond my immediate role have been key. It’s about going the extra mile, whether through involvement in colleague resource groups or taking on additional responsibilities. Adaptability, resilience, and an innovative mindset are essential in today’s retail landscape.

What advice would you give to current students or recent graduates who aspire to pursue a career in retail management and event planning, based on your experiences?

Networking and self-advocacy are your best friends! Don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals in roles you aspire to. A simple coffee chat can lead to unexpected doors opening. My approach with Macy’s was all about immersing myself in every opportunity to learn and grow. Starting at an entry-level position isn’t a setback; it’s a chance to showcase your potential. Get involved, gain experience, and never stop seeking out new challenges. The journey might be unconventional, but the rewards are worth it.