A walk through Montclair State University is both strange and entirely typical of a college campus: the Red Hawk statue standing tall among its students, professors running to class with hot coffee spilled between their fingers and forming wind tunnels making it impossible to walk in a straight, orderly line.
However, one might not expect to see a young woman headed to class with some friends, all while videotaping herself. She’s a natural on camera, all blonde hair and a pearly-toothed smile, chatting away and documenting a typical day on Montclair State’s campus. This young woman’s name is Maddie Cidlik, a sophomore transfer student from Maplewood, New Jersey, who runs a beauty and lifestyle YouTube channel with over 10,000 subscribers.
At the age of 19, Cidlik is finding a way to balance her demanding major of business administration with a marketing concentration, a college social life and a growing online presence. In order to do so, you may see her in the dining hall filming what she’s eating for lunch, doing on a night out, documenting the “good years” with her friends or taping scenic shots for her cinematic vlog-style videos.
Cidlik’s viewers are widespread, but she has quite a following of both current and prospective Montclair State students. A senior education major, Leanne DeSciscio, found Cidlik’s channel a few months ago.
“In a ‘world’ as big as YouTube, it’s really cool to see someone on the same campus as me working towards such a big goal,” DeSciscio said. “While I haven’t seen Maddie on campus yet, I’ll definitely ask for a photo and stop and chat when I do.”
Despite the challenge of balancing a typical life at college with being a content creator, Cidlik sticks it out because of the positive feedback she’s received over the years.
“I just like sharing what I’m interested in,” Cidlik said. “It’s really fun reading people’s comments and it’s all pretty much positive.”
Her YouTube stardom began when Cidlik was a senior in high school getting ready for her last prom. After being an avid user of the site, she decided to create her own channel and upload a video titled, “June 2016 Vlog: Prom & Graduation,” which brought in over 3,500 views. This was just a taste of the success she would experience in the following two years. Cidlik’s videos earned upwards of 30,000 views and led her to work with reputable brands like Make Up For Ever.
Working with brands wasn’t something that Cidlik ever expected when uploading that first prom video, but it has led to an even greater purpose and one that may serve her well after graduation.
“Working with brands has always been a thing I’ve wanted to do,” Cidlik said. “I’ve always wanted to do marketing for either a beauty company or a fashion company, so my YouTube channel could even be something that could help me in my career later on.”
While working with brands and building her own personal one is important to Cidlik, her YouTube presence is much more than the beauty and fashion industries despite what her viewers and peers may think.
“If you talk about makeup and fashion, it’s superficial stuff,” Cidlik said. “Even though that’s what I’m talking about on my channel, that’s not all that there is to me as a person.”
Staying true to herself is the main goal of Cidlik’s channel especially when it comes to viewers who are also Montclair State students or are hoping to become Red Hawks.
“It’s important to just be yourself if you’re going to have somewhat of an online following because you don’t want to set the wrong idea of yourself online or be someone else in person,” Cidlik said.
If you ever see a student who looks just like you, backpack-clad, coffee in hand and headed to class, take a closer look. Is she holding up a camera and filming the campus before her? If so, be sure to say hello. Montclair State’s campus is a community, just like YouTube, filled with creatives and artists looking to make their next move.