Ohio University

Staying Local Series: Ricky Chilcott, BSC '08, MA '16

Staying Local Series: Ricky Chilcott, BSC '08, MA '16

Hometown: North Royalton, Ohio

Year Graduated: 2008 (Bachelor of Science in Communication); 2016 (Master of Arts)

School: School of Media Arts and Studies

Major: Audio Production (with minors in Music and Business); Media Management

Current job title and location: Co-founder at Mission Met, Athens, Ohio

What do you do? I am a co-founder of a small business, Mission Met, which helps nonprofits develop and take action on their strategic plans. I have several responsibilities, which include building features for our software platform; helping our small development and support team be successful; seeking input from business advisors and strategic partners; connecting with prospective customers; and planning the strategic direction of our company. 

What made you come to Ohio University? Were there other places you considered? I was first attracted to Ohio University because it had a high-quality audio engineering program, and once I visited campus, I was struck by the beauty, excellent facilities, stellar faculty, and small college-town feel. 

I considered attending Middle Tennessee State and Berklee College of Music along with Capital University, but once I stepped on campus, my decision was made.

How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? If I answered this question immediately after college, I would have highlighted the technical skills I gained from the media production program, and the critical thinking, analysis skills, and a foundation of business knowledge. Over the years, I’ve realized that what I really learned during my time at Ohio University was the importance of developing leadership skills, communicating abstract and unproven ideas, and finding effective ways to synthesize ideas across disciplines to better serve people. There was no single class that covered all of these topics directly, but the summation of my undergraduate and graduate experiences prepared me for a world that changes continually.

My love of learning started as a teen, but it was nurtured and fed during my time at Ohio University. The opportunities to be involved in student organizations, extracurricular projects, and various on-campus jobs really helped me put what I was learning into practice in a meaningful and tangible way.

 What about your experiences here was so memorable? First, I found love. I met my now wife, Didi, BSJ ’08, MED ’10, my freshman year. On the academic side, the best thing about Ohio University for me was that while it’s a mid-sized school, it’s big enough to offer many engagement opportunities, but not so large that you can’t be involved in many different areas. I was the president of Brick City Records and held on-campus jobs at the head sound engineer in the School of Music and as an orientation leader. I was able to coordinate and record hundreds of hours of music, learn about leadership in an academic and practical sense, learn how to balance competing priorities in my life, and develop strong confidence in who I am as a person.

I released albums, recorded senior recitals for students in the School of Music, and helped first-year students learn to read their DARS and to schedule classes. I was part of post-production editing and mixing of a handful of films. I also played a key role in an audio preservation project with Media Arts and Studies faculty in the country of Guyana.

Ohio University helped me realize that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to if I gathered the right people and resources and worked hard to achieve that goal.

Tell us about your career path. After completing my undergraduate degree, I started a Master’s program in media management. In the middle of that program, I applied for the technology and facilities manager position in the School of Media Arts and Studies and started that role in 2009. I worked in that role for a few years until I was offered an opportunity to step into a similar role in the Dean’s Office in the Scripps College of Communication, which I held until 2018. I was part of the Schoonover Center construction project and helped transition the college to a more centralized IT and facility support environment. I voluntarily left the role to pursue a dream to build a small software development company full time.  

In the past year, I partnered with a long-time client to build a new company, Mission Met, which partners technology with a simple and practical strategic planning process, specifically for nonprofit organizations around the country. Although Mission Met is a small company, it has a big vision with lasting impact. It allows me to work with fun people on projects that I care about. I also get to be my own boss, which is pretty cool too. While my business partner lives in California, we’re honored to be a Southeast Ohio-based company that can serve organizations from around the country.

What were some of the reasons you decided to stay local for your career? How would you advise students in choosing where they should ultimately live and work? There are several reasons my wife and I decided to stay in Athens. She works at Ohio University and loves advising fellow Bobcats in University College, so that keeps us pretty connected to campus. We also have developed deep friendships with many people from around Athens through our church, the Athensworks co-working space, and so many friends from the University and local businesses. We’ve also fallen in love with Athens and Southeast Ohio, which celebrate sustainability, simplicity, intellectualism, craft beer, and pawpaws. What could be better? There is too much to list here, but my wife likes to say, “We came for Ohio University, but stayed for the community.”

I think it’s essential for people to develop strong ties with their community. I know it’s typical for people to bounce around from city to city, or town to town chasing jobs or relationships, but I find that if you commit to a place, then it will be paid back to you through meaningful friendships, career opportunities, and an unexplainable feeling of belonging. Consider exploring locations for a few years after college, but then commit to a place to find the joy that can come from having roots. 

What other advice do you have for current students? It’s a cliché, but I suggest getting involved. For me, being involved in student organizations and finding on-campus jobs gave me opportunities to lead people, manage projects, and apply classroom learning in practical situations. You get as much (or more) as you put in, so seek out opportunities that excite you and pour yourself into them.

I also encourage you to dream big. Have a vision for the future and go after it. Don’t just look around and see what others are doing. Instead, ask yourself what you want, write it down, and go for it. You will face challenges. You will have setbacks. You will have failures. But I haven’t yet met someone who failed trying something big that ever regretted it.

Ohio University provides many programmed experiences and opportunities, and those are great, take advantage of them, but also challenge yourself to create your own experiences. Learn to fail, and continually foster your creative spirit. Doing so will lead to sustaining joy and success in many different areas of your life.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Best of luck creating your future!