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From the Arts to the Enterprise: Judy Nollet ‘82

Posted on Sep 5, 2012
Graduating in 1982, Judy Nollet used her liberal arts education from UW-Superior to become an entrepreneur, successfully applying her creativity to the business world.

Judy Nollet graduated from UW-Superior in 1982, obtaining her master's degree in Visual Arts with an emphasis in Photography. While attending college, Nollet learned the value in being able to take knowledge from multiple areas of education and apply it to different aspects of a job. She recognized her own potential in being able to carry out this value, so she made the decision to create her own business as a Technical Writer and Instructional Designer.  Nollet now works as a freelancer under the business name of White Plume Communications.

Applying her Talents

After receiving her master's degree from UW-Superior, Nollet started her career working with a small company. Part of her job description was to create small slide show presentations that would later be used for job training. Her creative personality was perfect for this type of work, since she was given the authorization to use her artistic abilities to design the productions, managing everything from taking pictures and adding in audio, to writing and organizing the information and creating the design.

After spending some time with this first job, Nollet made the decision to begin her own enterprise. One of the qualities she possesses that is the key to her success is her ability to be flexible and adapt to different demands from her customers. Nollet comments, "There's simply no room for a 'my way or the highway' approach." Every task that she is hired to carry out is different, and it is her job to adjust to the varying circumstances in order to meet the customer's needs.

Working as an Entrepreneur

As a Technical Writer and an Instructional Designer, Nollet offers her services to businesses that need help putting their information together into a presentable manner. This includes creating things such as presentations, websites, manuals, or any other type of printed communication that is needed for a business. 

On a typical day, Nollet spends most of her time on the computer, putting together her projects and creating eLearning courses. Even though much of her work is done independently, she still does attend meetings and conferences. Since she needs to get accurate information in order to complete her work for a company, Nollet often has to meet with the people who are in charge of the project or other people who are experts in the field. She can also be seen attending conferences put on by professional organizations in order to stay caught up with current affairs. These conferences also give Nollet the opportunity to network with people who could be her potential

Holding the position of a freelancer, there is never one set topic that Nollet works with. She loves that she gets the opportunity to learn about new things at each of her jobs and that her work is always changing. There are, however, some challenging aspects to her job as well. As a freelancer, there are very few things that are set in stone. Every project takes a different amount of time to complete, so it is hard to give a company
an exact timeframe that they can expect the finish product. The job can also be
challenging on Nollet's end, because she does not always have a consistent
income since she is always bouncing around to different projects.

Though it may seem unusual for a Visual Arts major to hold a job in business affairs, Nollet understands how she came to be successful in this type of field, and she gives the credit to her professors at UW-Superior. "I've always been interested in theatre and the arts. I was lucky to have professors who explained the need to balance the desire for personal creativity with 'real world' business requirements." With a liberal arts background, Nollet had learned how to use her knowledge from one area of study and relate it to other areas, which is a very valuable trait for any employee to possess.

A Little Advice for Students

A valuable piece of advice from Nollet relates to the idea of networking. Though many people understand that making connections with other people can help you to get a job, Nollet stresses the importance of staying connected even after you have been hired somewhere. She advises, "Keep in mind that you have to make time to stay involved throughout your career. You can't just show up whenever you're unemployed and expect that people who don't really know you will help you." Developing strong relationships with other people will essentially help you to help yourself.

Finally, it is important to know that having the highest degree in a field of study does not necessarily mean that you are the most qualified for a job. As Nollet puts it, "hard work and adaptability are always essential." There is no denying that having a higher degree is very beneficial, but you also must have the right balance of strong personal traits and experiences working within the field in order to really make yourself stand out from the crowd. 

Judy Nollet was interviewed as a part of the Career Services Day in the Life project. Her full interview and those of other UW-Superior alumni can be found on the Day in the Life website,

Interview conducted by Tashina Martinson on February 19, 2012. Article written by Kristen Jasperson.

News Contact: Shannon Gilligan | 715-394-8026 | sgillig1{atuws}
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