Robbie Myers (’82) epitomizes the power of a liberal arts degree: using the rigor and depth of a specific discipline, with critical communication skills, creativity in problem-solving, and flexibility to navigate the complexities (and, at times, ambiguities) of the professional world.
With an undergraduate degree in political science, a strong desire to change the world, and the awareness that law school just wasn’t for her (and she probably wouldn’t become president of the United States), Myers headed to New York City after graduation from CSU. She worked as a bartender and department store sales clerk while she followed up on a connection for a job interview at Conde Nast.
Though she had the interview, she didn’t get the job. But she wasn’t deterred. Upon advice from the friend of a friend, at 7 pm on a weeknight, Myers called the co-founder and editor at Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner. “He answered his own phone, and after I introduced myself he said, ‘send in your resume’ and hung up. So the next day I showed up to the office, told the assistant that Jann had asked me to bring my resume. They were confused but gave me a typing test and I was hired as an editorial assistant,” Myers recounts.
This example of persistence and confidence, along with years of hard work, has served Myers’ well in her 30-year career in magazine publishing. After Rolling Stone, Myers worked for Interview magazine (run by Andy Warhol), and then moved through the publishing world to continue gaining experience and responsibility. Those strategic career moves, assisted by the mobility provided from a well-rounded liberal arts education, helped Myers grow her skill set and her career, ultimately spending the last 17 years of her career as the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.
Myers brought a love of politics and culture and learning to Elle, integrating thought-provoking feature articles to the pages of fashion. Her job put her in touch with Hollywood stars, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and government officials such as Madeline Albright and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (as a political science major, these women were personal heroes of Myers).
Myers’ pursuit of intelligent, powerful storytelling for Elle brought the magazine to a pinnacle in the publishing world, establishing the magazine as a solid brand in magazines, in fashion, and in culture.
Upon her retirement from Elle in September 2017, she penned a note to her staff that included this message: “When I started in this role, it was with the best mission an editor can give herself: To open women’s appetites. And I surrounded myself with the smartest, most creative people, you, to both magnify what Elle stood for — strong, confident women who play a leading role in creating a culture that honors all of us — and expand the idea of what American beauty really looks like.”
Because of her experience with the liberal arts, Myers, a strong, confident woman herself, was empowered and prepared to create something that people loved. And though Myers never did become president of the United States, she has created a legacy – empowering her employees and readers to think critically and creatively about politics, fashion, and culture.
Myers is working now as a consultant for Hearst magazines (owner of Elle) and for a few young entrepreneurs on brand and content strategy.
In May 2018, Myers returned to Fort Collins to deliver the commencement address for the Spring 2018 College of Liberal Arts graduation ceremony, during which she shared a variety of her own experiences and words of wisdom, ultimately championing the power of a liberal arts degree.
- “…don’t believe for a minute that the culture no longer values or need what it is that Liberal Arts teach you: how to synthesize seemingly disparate things; interpret new information through the filters of history, politics, literature, art and connect it all back to human behavior and choice.”
- “What Liberal Artists do is interpretive, dialectical, connecting human dots in new ways every time you crack open a book, listen to Kendrick, or watch a movie; what you know how to do, now, is think critically in the most extraordinary way, about everything and everyone around you at this moment in history.”
- “Focus less on what you want to “be” – and more on what you want to do. Because the Liberal Arts actually prepare you to do a million things, things you’ve never thought of; jobs you don’t even know exist. I wanted to “be” a lawyer, a backup dancer, Jason Bourne or President. Really. But what I wanted to DO was make something that people really liked, loved even, while engaging in problem-solving with people smarter than I am.”