Growing up in Mashhad, Iran, Faren Karimkhan’s fascination with the media industry began in high school. After earning a B.A. in public relations from Allameh Tabataba’i University in 2014, she launched her public relations career as a corporate responsibility intern with Samsung.
That internship led to an interest in the advertising side of the electronics corporation. She joined DMN Advertising Agency as an account executive, working with Samsung on a huge project.
After a couple of years in the industry, Karimkhan realized there was more that she hadn’t had a chance to explore yet. This curiosity led her back to academia.
“When you are young, you take risks,” she says. “I decided to give up my job as an account executive for the Samsung Corporate Social Responsibility Project in Iran because I knew I wasn’t just going to be learning in the classroom, but also living a new experience.”
Having not learned English in school, Karimkhan taught herself the language two years prior to moving to the United States.
“I would search the internet for self-study material and chose topics that interested me,” she says. “I read anything I could find, listened to so many podcasts, and watched ‘Friends’ three or four times!”
Karimkhan moved to the United States and in 2018, earned an M.A. in communication studies from New Mexico State University. Through her travels, she found the culture shock—food, clothing, traditions, manners and even dinner time—challenging.
“Being on time has a very different meaning in Iran than it does [in the United States],” she says. “I arrived for a 10 a.m. meeting at 10:08, thinking I was on time. I walked in only to see two slightly annoyed and disappointed professors waiting for me in the conference room! Lesson learned.”
After Mexico State, Karimkhan jumped into her doctoral studies right away. She attended Florida State University from 2018 to 2022, earning a Ph.D. in integrated marketing communication. At Florida State, Karimkhan conducted research on the fashion and beauty industry, studying how social media influencers and outlets affect women. She looked at different characteristics of fashion influencers and how being exposed to their cosmetic-related content impacted women’s self-esteem.
“I was interested in what exactly makes people listen to those influencers and how authentic they were, to determine what about them makes them so influential,” Karimkhan says.
After Florida she headed up north, becoming a visiting lecturer at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University before nabbing her full-time job in the advertising department at the Newhouse School.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I wouldn’t be isolated in an office doing research,” she says. “I thrive in an environment where I have connections to the industry and current events.”
Karimkhan started at Newhouse in August 2022, and remarks how she was constantly amazed by the diverse professions and specialities of fellow faculty members.
“I was so excited to be in an environment where the people next door do completely different stuff,” she says.
Karimkhan is simultaneously teaching Advertising Research and Planning while researching fast fashion and persuasion techniques.
“It has been a fantastic experience, but the best part has to be the students,” she says. “Every class discussion is not only a learning session for them, but also a learning session for me, and that is just one of the many reasons I look forward to the classroom every day.”
Karimkhan is on the tenure track and hopes to eventually teach the Beauty and Fashion Communications Milestone.
“Sometimes it’s crazy to think back and say, ‘how was all of that just six years ago?’”
Gabby Kepnes is a junior advertising major at the Newhouse School.