Illinois State alumna Nicole Cihock ’16 knew from a young age that she wanted to create wonderful things, and now only months after graduation she is getting paid to do just that.

Cihock was hired as an art director intern for Disney’s in-house advertising agency, Yellow Shoes Creative Group. She is responsible for creating promotional material for Disney Parks and Resorts.

Her fascination with Disney began as a child when she lived in Escondido, California. Her family frequently visited Disneyland for weekend getaways. She fell in love with the stories that Disney told and the ideas the “imagineers” created. Though she moved to Illinois at age 5, she never lost her love for Disney.

Cihock began her journey at Illinois State University after originally attending a different school for interior design. She then transitioned to a community college after deciding to switch to graphic design. Cihock transferred to Illinois State soon after and majored in graphic design.

“ISU always came so highly praised by both alumni and professionals I encountered during that time,” she said.

Cihock thrived at Illinois State with a little help from her two best friends, Megan Janeski and Daniel Restenberger, and the amazing food in Uptown Normal (sushi from La Bamba and cheese curds from Pub II). She says her instructors in the School of Art helped her to think big, and push her in new ways. The passion these professors had for creating stuck with her and still impact the way she thinks of her designs today.

“There is something about having instructors teach us that all ideas are good ideas,” Cihock said. “Even if they aren’t the current solution, that doesn’t mean it can’t jump-start another idea.”

“There is something about having instructors teach us that all ideas are good ideas.” – Nicole Cihock

She looks forward to growing both as an individual and a professional. After waiting years to be a part of something she has admired, Cihock can finally say she has landed her dream job. The work she completes is rewarding, and she feels perfectly at home within the Walt Disney Company.

In the years to come Cihock hopes to continue her career at Disney, and she loves the work she is doing. She hopes to someday return to Disneyland, full of experiences and amazing memories.

Cihock followed her passion and landed the job of her dreams. She knew she wanted to use her creativity and did not let anything stand in her way.

“You can learn how to do anything, but passion cannot be taught,” she said. “Passion is what drives us creatives to see and make the big picture. And though efforts and ideas may be small now, you can work towards a successful outcome in both your work and own personal achievements.”

Logan Sellers can be reached at