Ever thought to yourself, “Why did no one teach me this in school?” Of course you have. Which is why Cosmopolitan, everyone’s favorite formative learning manual, has launched a series of no-nonsense learnings called ExtraCurricular. Consider it your cheat sheet to everything from networking and saving money to straight-talking sex education… as editor in chief Jessica Pels says, “These are all things you have to learn after the fact and often the hard way.” The Daily caught up with Nancy Berger, Cosmopolitan’s SVP, publishing director, and chief revenue officer —talk about a triple threat!—to get the ‘CliffsNotes’ on what to expect. Pencils at the ready!
What was the impetus behind launching ExtraCurricular?
For college students in 2020 the college experience is vastly different. More than ever students are seeking out information, inspiration, and connection from off-campus sources. As the voice of this generation—Cosmo reaches one in three female college students in the U.S. —Jess Pels, myself, and our teams recognize our unique position to reach and connect with this particular audience. We value the influence and impact students have now and will have in the future and we wanted to develop a program that would provide them with everything their “new” college life isn’t. Each ExtraCurricular class will follow a unique curriculum, led by some of the most iconic boss ladies, editors, influencers, and entrepreneurs. These motivational classes are designed to be real talk for the real world, teaching students all the things their parents and teachers aren’t!
How will the format work?
Classes run every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm, starting October 13th and running through November. Each session varies from 20-30 minutes long. They’re free to attend and will be accessible on a designated site—extracurricularbycosmo.com. They’ll also be promoted and accessible via all of Cosmo’s platforms. Students can register ahead of time and right up until the class starts. After the class has occurred, students will be able to revisit it or tune-in for the first time if they missed it, as the classes will stay live for the duration of the “semester”. After the semester ends, students will be able to access the classes in perpetuity by becoming a member of Cosmo Unlocked.
What’s your hope for this project?
We’ve designed ExtraCurricular to enhance students’ college experiences, bringing them beyond the classroom. By providing them with access to some of the most influential and knowledgeable industry leaders, we hope they will gain real, tangible insights that will help them during their college life and, most importantly, in the real world. All of us at Cosmo are committed to helping empower, educate, and inspire this important audience and we’re already in the planning stages for a 2021 Spring and Fall semester of ExtraCurricular, plus other college-targeted programs.
How did you go about selecting the right talent to teach the classes?
Jess and team created a syllabus that covers a vast range of topics that aligns perfectly with the type of content this age group is seeking out. Aligning these invaluable lessons, [sessions] are intended to be useful, informative, easy to digest, practical, and fun! The “professors” selected are experts in their individual fields and relatable to the audience—including Lauren Chan, CEO and founder of Henning; Tosh E, head of wealth/advancing black pathways at JP Morgan Chase & Co; Lauren McGoodwin, founder of Career Contessa; Kathryn Minshew, founder of The Muse; among many others!
What topics will be highlighted?
The courses will include themes like how to avoid burnout, all the stuff about money you wish you knew by now, how to survive a job interview on Zoom, what you need to know to launch a startup, and so much more!
Do you remember a piece of particularly invaluable advice you were given as a college student?
The plan you go into college with may not be the plan you stay with. And that’s OK! Most college students do not know what they want to do for the rest of their life once they get to college. It’s fine to take your time when picking the major and career path that’s right for you. College is a time to experiment, meet people, ask questions, and try on new things. I entered college as an education major, but once I started down that track I found it wasn’t right for me. In my sophomore year I switched my major and never looked back.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell your college age self now?
These four years go so fast. Don’t rush them. Enjoy the ride!
How did you get your start in the publishing world?
My marketing professor would bring in executives from different companies to speak with us. One day the publisher of a large women’s magazine came to speak with our class. I loved everything about her. As she described her day-to-day life, business challenges, and the industry overall; I knew this is what I wanted for my own career. It was like a switch had been turned on. She was my guiding light. Years later, she hired me to be her ad manager at Vanity Fair. Later I became the publisher of Allure magazine, where she had been the founding publisher. My dream to become her was fulfilled.
When you were in college, did you ever think you’d end up as SVP and publisher of Cosmopolitan?
I didn’t know this would be where I landed, but I couldn’t be happier to be sitting in this seat. I am very lucky to do what I am passionate about every day. Cosmo is a brand that I have loved and respected since I was 18—I lived by their monthly horoscopes (I’m a Virgo). I admired founding editor Helen Gurley Brown, who showed the way for young women to create the life they wanted.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to follow a similar career trajectory to you?
I would say to expand your network and seek out people in the industry. The wider your circle of relationships, the more opportunities you will create for yourself and the more help and support you will have to achieve your goals. Use these relationships as a way to seek out internships and shadowships to give you relevant experience that can be added to your resume.
Is Cosmo currently working on any other fun projects you can fill us in?
Cosmo is always working on new and exciting projects! We created a shopping Hauliday this past August, encouraging young women to treat themselves and shop great deals across close to one hundred retail partners, guilt-free. It was a huge success, so stay tuned for Hauliday 2021 in the Spring and Fall. The deals, giveaways, and surprise and delight moments that we are working for next year are not to be missed!
See below for the ExtraCurricular by Cosmo Schedule:
October 13, 2020
How to avoid burnout when you’re hustling 24/7
Speaker: Bea Arthur, therapist, entrepreneur, and advocate for accessible mental health care
October 15, 2020
Build yourself a fancy website to match your fancy résumé
Speaker: Maxie McCoy, host & executive producer of WomanOn
October 20, 2020
How to get over that whole imposter syndrome thing
Speaker: Lauren Chan, CEO and founder of Henning
October 22, 2020
Everything you didn’t learn in Sex Ed.
Speaker: Carina Hsieh, sex and relationship editor at Cosmopolitan
October 27. 2020
All the stuff about money you wish you knew by now
Speaker: Tosh E., head of wealth/advancing black pathways at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
October 29, 2020
How to survive a job interview (and all things office life) on Zoom
Speakers: Mika Brzezinski and Daniela Pierre Bravo, MSNBC anchor and booking producer, co-authors of Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond
November 5, 2020
The best jobs are never listed: How to network your way up
Speaker: Lauren McGoodwin, founder of Career Contessa
November 10, 2020
What you need to know to launch a startup
Speaker: Jasmine Crowe, social entrepreneur, TED speaker, CEO of GoodrCo
November 12, 2020
How to be as good are your résumé as you are at your dating profile
Speaker: Kathryn Minshew, founder of The Muse and author of The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career
November 17, 2020
How to edit the sort of videos that actually go viral on YouTube
Speaker: Samantha Feher, editorial assistant at Cosmopolitan and influencer