Spotlight on Humanities and Natural Sciences Alumni: Katie Hiler

hilerName: Kathryn Hiler

Occupation: Graduate Student

Education (UR and additional): (’09) B.A in Brain and Cognitive Science; B.A in English Literature

Current city/state/country of residence: New York, NY


When and how did you choose your major(s)?

By the spring semester of my freshman year I was pretty sure I would major in BCS. I was in BCS 172 with Elissa Newport and was really drawn to the study of the developing brain. I was also taking English classes, about one a semester. I love to read and I would choose the class based on what books were going to be on the syllabus. I didn’t take this interest seriously until I had racked up enough courses to fulfill an English minor, and had no interest in stopping. I was headed towards getting a second major in English, which is what I did. 

What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?

When it came time to consider what I would do after college, I found the career center to be extremely helpful. They were very knowledgeable about everything – from practical resume and cover letter stuff, to how to translate your interests into a job you will like. I still use the resume format the counselor at the career center gave me and I always take their advice of “start early and be prepared” whenever I am applying to something. They are really an incredibly helpful resource, so don’t be afraid to use them!

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

I was lucky enough to get a job right after graduation. I was already thinking about my next steps beginning in January of my senior year. I was looking for jobs at publishing houses and found what I thought was the perfect position at an academic publisher for an editorial assistant in the behavioral sciences department. I applied for the job, but was told that, while I was a good candidate for the position, they needed someone sooner, and I wouldn’t be graduating until May (it was February). I was crushed, but I waited until April and applied again to a different position at the same company. This time I got to say “Remember me?” and I was accepted right away for an interview. I definitely believe applying early and getting turned down helped me get that position.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I’m currently working towards getting my masters in science journalism with NYU’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. I left Rochester with degrees in BCS and English and I thought I wanted to work in academic publishing. But after working in that field for a while I realized there was an even better way to merge my interests in science and writing – by becoming a science journalist. I ended up working in publishing for three years and then applied to NYU’s science journalism program. 

Where would you like to be in five years?

Ideally I would like to be a science reporter for a public radio station somewhere in the United States.

What advice do you have for current students?

My advice to current students would be to think outside of the box when it comes to figuring out what to do with your major(s). When I was considering what to do after graduation only the most obvious option stuck out at me – go to grad school and become a researcher. It took some time before I thought of going in to academic publishing, and science journalism after that. There are so many things you can do with your degree. Don’t let someone tell you an English degree is useless or that the only option you have in science is research.