Former Google marketing executive and alumna visits the CoJMC
Former Google marketing executive and alumna visits the CoJMCWednesday, November 8, 2017 - 10:30am
by Alli Inglebright
Cindy McCaffrey visited the College of Journalism and Mass Communications last week and brought an entire career worth of knowledge with her. She was visiting University of Nebraska–Lincoln for the Alumni Masters Week.
Masters Week is an opportunity for outstanding alumni to visit campus and share their knowledge and experiences with students. Since 1964, 390 alumni have returned to campus for this event.
McCaffrey graduated from the CoJMC in 1980 with a degree in journalism and later became the 26th employee hired by Google. She started her career at the Springfield Leader & Press in Springfield, Missouri, as a copy editor.
“Being a copy editor made me a better writer,” McCaffrey said. “It allowed me to read and edit other people’s work, which made my own work better.”
McCaffrey eventually moved to San Francisco where she worked at a magazine called Macintosh Today for one year. At the magazine, she wrote about Apple and its products and knew she wanted to be part of what the company was doing.
After working for the technology magazine, McCaffrey was given the opportunity to work for Apple in a product publicity position. While she didn’t have any public relations experience, McCaffrey credits her writing skills to securing her position at Apple.
“I didn’t have any PR experience and needed someone to teach me the ropes,” McCaffrey said. “I approached someone I admired and asked her to be my mentor.”
During her seven years at Apple, McCaffrey did corporate communications, corporate crisis communications, wrote speeches and a little bit of brand management. By the time she left the company she was the director of corporate communications.
Shortly after leaving Apple, McCaffrey began working at Google. She was the company’s 26th employee and was able to help the startup define its voice. She was interviewed and worked closely with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google.
“When I was interviewed by Larry and Sergey they weren’t sure how to interview me or what questions to ask,” McCaffrey said. “It was a wonderfully wild entrepreneurial environment and they wanted to build on that culture. Each person they hired had to have a ‘Googliness’ about them.”
McCaffrey spent five-and-a-half years with Google. During that time, she learned that it’s just as important for a company to know its corporate voice as it is to know its audience.
During Alumni Masters Week, McCaffrey visited with students and answered their questions. She said one of the most important skills students can obtain at the CoJMC is their writing skills. Having strong writing skills will take students far in their careers. She also talked about the importance of finding mentors to help you.
“Learning doesn’t stop,” McCaffrey said. “It’s an ongoing process.”
McCaffrey retired from Google in 2004 and currently splits her time between California and Hawaii. She and her husband are very involved with philanthropy in Hawaii and the Bay Area, California.