Meet James Noeker!

This past Thursday afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with James Noeker on the third floor of O’Malley library for a quick little interview. James Noeker hails from West Babylon, New York, and is genuinely an endless fountain of knowledge. If you have even the most obscure topic in your head, James probably has already read tons about it and has written a paper on it. He’s a smart guy - even if he won’t outright say so. He is heavily involved in Manhattan College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Center and is the well-dressed guy hanging up all of those posters around campus. You can’t miss him.

Name: James Noeker

Major: Marketing

Minor: Management

Year: Senior

Hometown: West Babylon, New York

HC: “How are you doing this afternoon?”

Oh, it’s been a very long day. I’ve had class since real early.

HC: “What is ‘real early?’”

11. I had to wake up to write for my internship so that had me up at around nine.

HC: “So, this is Nice People At Work?”

Yes.

HC: “So, was this like a blog post or something else?”

It was a blog post. I wrote a blog post for Nice People At Work and then I have been in class until 4:15.

HC: “What classes are you taking now?”

I am in three undergraduate courses and two Master’s level courses because I am staying at Manhattan for the 5 year MBA program. As a matter of fact, I just took the GMAT yesterday and I got the score I needed. It’s a really intense test.

HC: “This past summer, it seemed that you went all over the United States. Can you tell me about what that was like?”

It was such a great experience. It all really began in January when I went to Venice and Amsterdam. From then, I realized that this traveling stuff is really awesome. So when I got back home for the summer, a friend of mine asked me, “Do you want to come to the Finger Lakes? We should just go as a fun day trip!” We looked at hotel costs and said, “Oh, these are really expensive. What if we tried camping?” Now, I had been camping a little as a kid, my friend also and my third friend not at all. We all had varying levels of experience, but we went and made a success out of it and then we decided to plan more trips. We went whitewater rafting in Pennsylvania; we climbed a mountain in Virginia in Shenandoah Park after spending time in D.C. and the last trip we went on [was] to Maine. [We went to] Acadia National Park, which I could not recommend more - it’s beautiful. It looks like for [this] Spring Break I’ll be going to Michigan.

Traveling is the best way to experience places. Just the act of it is uplifting - even the boring parts! I had never been on a plane before going to Europe and everyone else was loathing the flight experience while I was excited. I mean, I am flying! I am in a tube in the sky! The entire thing is beautiful - even the snooty French flight attendants!

Even in the United States traveling is great. You never think about how different places in the United States are until you actually see it. Living in New York, you kind of say, “I’ve seen it all.” You haven’t. That’s why it is so important to explore your national backyard - whether that be natural in a national park or go to a city. We tried to pair the cities with national parks. I couldn’t recommend it more.

HC: “How long did you stay in each location for?”

We were able to do a lot of weekend trips. Most of the time it was three or four days. Maine we spent five because it was so far away and we drove.

HC: “Would you say that Maine was your favorite place to go to?”

Maine was my favorite trip, but Shenandoah Park in Virginia was my favorite location just because I love climbing mountains and we climbed a mountain.

HC: “Which mountain?”

Old Rag. I don’t know why they name stuff like that.

HC: “I think it’s a weird American thing.”

It is! It’s a pile of dirty laundry in the middle of Virginia back country.

HC: “You’re a senior Marketing major. Can you talk to me about what that’s like?”

I’ve seen a lot of changes in the Marketing Department since i’ve been here. I mean, Stephen He left and I’ve had him for most of my marketing courses. Now, it’s weird because I’ve been here for so long that you notice organizational change. I remember when Thomas Hall had Dante’s Den in it. I remember walking around the Kelly Commons construction to get to math class in Leo.

My favorite part of being here is watching the changes happening [and] seeing how the school is progressing. It’s nice to see things change because it’s a sign of growth.

HC: “Do you think these changes are positive?”

I think so. I think that the Kelly Commons was a good idea that wasn’t necessarily executed properly. But, I love how we’ve redesigned Thomas. I like all of the initiatives being taken on campus. I like seeing a lot of the social action and outrage. I really appreciate how they’re going to be holding a “Here’s An Election Rundown” the day before Election Day. I think that’s very important.

The Quad has even changed! The articles focus on social [life] on campus. I just saw an article about the Irish exchange student Finn Duffy and it was two pages! That’s awesome! It used to be, “Locke’s Had A Bug In The Food Everyone Freak Out,” which it still is, but I like how it is inspiring this campus unity. I really like that the college is going in this direction.

HC: “If you could go back to being a freshman, would you? Why or why not?”

That’s a very loaded question.

HC: “It is.”

I, oh, that’s so tough, especially how important nostalgia is to our culture now.

HC: “Especially as seniors in college.”

Even beyond that! We’re looking back on the past with such fondness. As a senior, I look back on freshman year and I look at how much easier it seemed. I look back on it and I had so much optimism - kind of a naive optimism - and now I have informed optimism. It’s really a question of whether I would rather be ignorant and happy or informed and happy.

Ignorance is bliss - it’s kind of nice to wish you could have. I mean, childhood is pretty cool, but it’s really dangerous in the long-term. Would I go back to freshman year? No. Do I wish I could relive it? Yes.

HC: “If there is anything you could re-do about your time at Manhattan College, what would that be?”

I would have been more involved with extracurricular activities.

HC: “What kind of extracurricular activities would you have done?”

I would have liked to see myself in more business clubs. I wish I was more involved in the Entrepreneur Club, the Marketing Club and I wish I could have taken more Economics courses. I wish I had done more than just work. That’s what I devoted a lot of my energies to.

HC: “Do you feel that the School of Business prepared you for a career in marketing?”

Yes, very much so.

HC: “Can you explain that a little bit? Is it more about having a vocabulary or something else?”

The Business School is really good at creating harmony across subject matters. We lump a lot of business activities into the term “business.” At Manhattan, we divide it in Economics, Finance, Accounting, Management, CIS, Marketing and Business Analytics - and they all relate to each other somehow. Some professors do it more than others because if you’re in a major level class, they will go into more detail than say, general education courses. Some of the most meaningful courses I have had here are the ones that hit back to your personal values. When they hit back to your personal values, they help you realize, “Well, this is how I want to develop my career.”

I took International Marketing with Dr. Predmore and it made me realize that I want to be able to do business across the world. I want to be able to incorporate business and travel because I want to be able to unite through commerce different cultures. I think that’s the best way to create peace and it’s the best way to learn about each other. Going to a restaurant is an example of that. You’re trying foods of another country and you get an appreciation of that culture because there is something about it you like. You end up looking more into it and learning something new. That’s the sort of thing I would like to bring to my workplace and I wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for the way Manhattan teaches their School of Business courses.

If I had said the restaurant example to myself about 5 years ago, I would have said, “You’re a crazy man! You don’t need to be anything other than an American!”

HC: “So, you’re currently taking some Master's level classes at the School of Business here at Manhattan College. Are these courses any different from your regular undergraduate courses?”

They are more challenging, but they are more liberating, almost.

HC: “How so?”

Let’s take Decision Modeling, for example. We have a lot of assignments throughout the course of the semester, but the final version of the assignment that will be graded has to be submitted at the end. The professors of the Master’s level course realize you’re busy, you have stuff to do, because a lot of Master’s students still work and they’re part-time. I have the luxury of being a full-time student for much of it, but not everybody does. I appreciate how the professors respect and manage that. The work is tough, but being able to do it more on your schedule is the part of it that makes it less intimidating because you’re in control and you get to do the work. You get to hand it in when you’re ready.

That might just be how this specific professor runs his course, but I have seen parallels in other courses I take. They’re all different.

HC: “Are the professors still undergrad professors or do they hire new people for the Master’s classes?”

A lot of the undergrad professors do teach the Master’s courses. I have talked to undergrad professors who are looking forward to having me again at the graduate level course because I had enjoyed them so much as an undergrad professor.

HC: “Are you looking to go into marketing or do you want to do something else?”

I do want to go into marketing. I want to go into a very select field of marketing. I want to go into business-to-business transactions. I have very little interest in marketing the next consumer product to the masses because I think there are a lot of tactics in business-to-consumer marketing that aren’t very ethical, even though they are presented in an ethical way. Personally, I don’t see myself wishing to do that, so I would ideally like to work in telecom. My dream job would be at NBC Universal working in their Ad Sales division and working up the ranks. I really like media production from a business standpoint. I would rather be behind [the creative] because without having business backbone, you don’t have the content.

The nature of video and how we watch television programming is changing and I want to be a part of the business aspect of it: keeping content providers in business so that we can have great shows in the future.

HC: “I know you work for Manhattan College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Center. Can you talk to me about how you got involved with that and what it has been like working for it?”

My favorite story to tell. Freshman year I had the privilege of taking the Nature And Experience Of Religion with Dr. Afridi. We were discussing various religions of the world - and it’s almost coincidental that I had Dr. Afridi as a teacher. The year preceding that I had started to receive anti-semitic comments. I am not Jewish by religion nor ethnicity - as far as I know. I got a comment from a Manhattan College student - and then experienced a few more instances. It was after a few more of those moments that I went up to Dr. Afridi and asked how I could be more involved in the Center.

The next year, I was a part of the YHS Fellowship, which paired Manhattan College students and rabbinical students from the Three Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. It was such a rewarding experience to be involved with Holocaust survivors, to hear their stories, learn from them and preserve the memory of the Holocaust. I was able to grow that to be Dr. Afridi’s assistant. So many great memories and experiences I have acquired as a result of that.

It gets many people wondering why [I’m] doing that. People ask me, as a business student, why I would help an Arts organization? The best response to that is that a lot of the activities I do for the organization is marketing. We all work to find reward, at least in part. I don’t necessarily enjoy what I research and talk about because the material is very heavy, but I think it is very important and I get a lot of value from being part of an organization that shares these stories with other people. The memory of the Holocaust is not one that should be forgotten - especially in our current climate. We have the rise of anti-semitism in Europe and America and we have the crises caused by the lack of interfaith understanding. This focuses on religious culture and how secular culture influences it.

If you ask me, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had because I get so much meaning out of it.

HC: “That was a really good answer. Thank you for sharing that with me. Now, I’m going to take it down a little bit, give you a bit of a breather. Or maybe not. Can you talk to me about your postgraduate plans?”

Oh, my goodness. I wish I could tell you. I’ve been making the joke that I’ve pursuing a Master’s degree so that I don’t have to get a job, but that’s still a really heavy question. Secretly inside of me, I’m really scared of getting a job because that is the future. I take the future with a lot of openness, but also with a little hesitance because you can’t foresee it. I am a little bit intimidated by it, but I am very optimistic about what the future holds.

The worst question anyone could ask is “What do you want to do when you grow up?” because I could never give a proper answer. I hope I just do what I enjoy - and I think that’s my postgraduate plan: to find something I enjoy doing. I hope I can do it while working at NBC Universal and bring different people together. I want to tell stories that matter.

HC: “Would you want to stay in New York postgrad or do you want to go somewhere else?”

I think long-term New York is where I will be staying. I don’t think I could put myself in another place long-term, but I do hope to have a lot of short-term experiences in other countries and other parts of this country.

I am an American and I have an “Americanness” about me. I want to show other parts of the world that we’re not so bad.

HC: “Tell me one cool fun fact about yourself.”

Oh, give me a minute.

HC: “That’s another heavy question!?”

I have to really think about an interesting fact about myself. I don’t know. That’s one of the toughest things anyone could have asked me.

HC: “Oh, I really thought that was going to be an easy one. It doesn’t have to be serious!”

It doesn’t have to be serious! I like trains - I like trains a lot. No, architecture! I could talk about architecture for days and I’m not sure if I know what I’m talking about is right! I really like Neo-Classical architecture, so one of my favorite things is going downtown and seeing the old Neo-Classical architecture. I have such a strong affinity for it, but I have no idea what I am talking about it. I feel so passionately about something that I cannot talk about.

HC: "Is there anything else you would like to tell the Her Campus at Manhattan College community?"

Like a nugget of wisdom.

HC: “Like a nugget of wisdom.”

As Bob Dylan said, “Keep on keepin’ on,” and I hope to see you all around campus. If you see me around on campus, say hi!