2010 Drake University graduate, Max Plenke, encourages students to find what they love and to obsess over it until they succeed.
Max Plenke is from Minneapolis, Minnesota where he attended Perpich Arts High School in the suburb of Golden Valley. Perpich allowed for Plenke to take normal high school classes alongside studying music.
Plenke visited colleges his senior year of high school and on the way home from Northwestern University in Illinois, the Plenke family decided to take a look at Drake.
“My dad was a journalism professor at the time, he was aware that they had a pretty upstanding Journalism school and he said let’s just stop by” Plenke said.
“There was a guy giving tours who was a Music Performance and Broadcast Journalism double major. At the time I thought I could use music to pay for some of school but I really wanted to study Journalism.”
In 2006, when Plenke went to visit, he felt at home and saw many opportunities awaiting him in the Journalism School.
Plenke began as a Music Performance and Magazine Media double major but after his first year looked forward to focusing more on just Magazine Media. Plenke dropped music and added a Graphic Design major that was more for fun than anything and later in his last year at Drake, added an English minor.
While at Drake, Plenke worked for Drake Mag his sophomore and junior and senior year served as the Editor and Chief of 515, the journalism capstone magazine.
“I really liked my Drake Mag experience. It was an intense time, we as the editors were always together for sessions working late into the evening,” Plenke said.
“The difference between 515 and Drake Mag is that some people in 515 have to be there for their major and are very clearly indifferent towards it, whereas Drake Mag this is what they live and breathe while they are in college.”
Plenke considers himself lucky in the field of internships after receiving an internship from a car magazine he had been writing for since he was 16. Plenke was able to write columns and lay out magazine pages.
Through networking and discussion, Plenke was able to be hired by Meredith on one of their four car magazines outside of their normal internship program.
After his experience with Meredith, Plenke ended up in New York interning for Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ) at Conde Nast.
“I got really lucky to have an advisor, Jeff Inman, who really understood what I needed and wanted and helped me find the tools to get there,” Plenke said.
“He really instilled in me this idea that the worst thing an editor or some person I wanted to work for can tell me is no. He would tell me just push and push and push until someone literally says stop. I carried that over and I think that’s why I got my internships and my jobs in the future.”
Plenke offers his piece of advice for current and future Drake students looking for a push of confidence. “Find something to love and then just obsess over it until people go to you for that thing.”
Plenke graduated in 2010 and since then has had a crazy path. Right out of school, Plenke was hired as a Arts and Entertainment Reporter for a newspaper in Las Vegas with some help from Jeff Inman. After three years there, Plenke found a band looking to tour and quit his job to tour full time. Plenke would work hard to continue freelancing while touring until he picked up running the music and promotion at a little bar in Vegas.
A move out to New York was much needed after his time in Vegas, Plenke took a job as a science reporter. From there, Plenke began covering fitness and drinking for Men’s Journal. Finally in 2017, Plenke landed a job at Group Nine Media where he is now the Associate Director of Branded Content.
Plenke also got engaged to a Drake graduate. The two dated briefly in college, but ended up living three blocks from each other eight years later, and they got engaged last year.