Nikki (Katnik) Sydlow

Nikki (Katnik) Sydlow

February 4, 2020

Nikki (Katnik) Sydlow (2019)

Nikki (Katnik) Sydlow  is the Event Manager for Innovation Hall STL, powered by the non-profit Venture Cafe St. Louis. Innovation Hall is the first public event space in the Cortex Innovation Community, St. Louis’ technology district. Before moving into the non-profit world, Nikki spent almost 5 years working in the hospitality industry. Nikki is a member of the organization MPI (Meeting Planners International) and serves as the Communication Chair on the Membership Committee. Nikki lives in St. Louis with her husband, and fellow Truman Communication grad, Alec, and their cat. Nikki’s career goal would be to own her own venue and plan conferences for the motivational speaker/personal development coach, Rachel Hollis. So if anyone knows Rachel, please hook her up!

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in May 2013, and my concentration was Public Communication. I minored in Photography.

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

Nikki (right) and one of her ΣΣΣ sisters (2012).

I was part of the Student Activities Board and a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma social sorority.

Did you go to grad school? If so, where?  Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait?  Why?

I did not go to grad school, but I am sitting for my CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) exam this year to receive my certification.

What was your first job after graduation?

I moved to Denver a few months after graduation. My first full-time job was as a front desk agent of a boutique hotel in downtown Denver.

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

I work in event planning now! I am the Event Manager for Innovation Hall which is the first public event space in Cortex – St. Louis’ technology district.

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

Nikki & her husband Alec (2016).

Working in Sales/Events, I talk to people all day, every day. I have to be able to think on my feet and find solutions, because events throw constant curveballs, so the critical thinking skills I gained from my liberal arts education are key. I also have to be able to communicate effectively with clients or I’ll never be able to close the deal.

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

Ehh – While I still have to work with numbers, I struggled with Accounting and I’m not an Accountant now so that worked out!

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

I look back on my internship and study abroad experiences while at Truman as two really life-changing moments for me.

In the Summer of 2012, I went on the Europe in Transition trip with about 20 other Truman students for about 3 weeks in May. We travelled to Belgium, France and Italy. After I came home from Europe, I packed up and moved a week later to Washington, DC for a summer-long internship through The Washington Center. It was a whirlwind but I could not recommend it more! These experiences prepared me to move to Denver after graduation for a few years.

Nikki (far right) and friends during the Europe in Transition study abroad class (2012).

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

I loved going to a smaller school where I felt like I knew almost everyone (or at least knew who they were). Although Truman is, of course, no Mizzou when it comes to size, you would be amazed how many Truman grads I run into all the time now that I live in St. Louis.

I also can’t stress enough how important it is to minimize/avoid student loans if at all possible. This is so helpful later in life as an adult. Truman gave me that advantage which has been a true gift as I had to face adult purchases, like a house!

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Study abroad and intern in a new city!!!! I grew up on the outskirts of Jefferson City which is pretty rural. Traveling abroad and living in a big city for the summer helped me see the world and pushed me to move to a new city after graduation. I love big cities now, and I feel really comfortable traveling to new places.

Nikki (right) during her internship in Washington, DC (2012).

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

When I graduated, I figured no one would hire me to plan their events as I was straight out of college. I know it doesn’t sound glamorous but you will likely have to start at the bottom (i.e. – front desk of a hotel). But you will work your way up! Once I worked my way from the Front Desk to the Sales Department, I was able to work alongside the wedding planner and eventually work my own events.

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

Kirksville will always hold a special place in my heart. College was the first time I felt truly independent, and I think that is something you never really forget. The first time I visited Truman, I thought it looked like a postcard. Even during Snowpocalypse 2011, it was a beautiful place to go to school.

If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?

I don’t know if this has been added since I graduated, but I would love Truman to add a Hospitality/Restaurant Management course or concentration.

Nikki at her graduation (L), her brother’s graduation (C), and her sister’s graduation (R). Truman was a family affair for the Katnik family.

If you would like to learn more of Nikki’s story, you can follow her on LinkedIn


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