On the Job with J-School Graduates
On the Job blog features the new careers and advice from recent graduates of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. If you would like to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Commerce Strategist, VMLY&R
Graduation year: 2016
Brief bio: Logan was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. Her parents both attended the University of Kansas, where her father took the path of entrepreneurship and mother a flight attendant for Delta Airlines. With that, in addition to investing in her education, Logan spent a lot of her upbringing on an airplane. She has lived in Brooklyn, New York, for over four years now, working at the global brand and customer experience agency, VMLY&R. VMLY&R is part of WPP, the biggest marketing and communications firm in the world.
How did you get your current job? It all started amid my pursuit of the AAFKC scholarship in which the interview happened to take place at the original VML Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Though intending to just land the scholarship, that interview opened doors to the rest of my career to this day. I kicked off the interview with a silly story about me ironically having been in the agency before as a young girl for a foot modeling gig in Vault (the agency’s production department); I mentioned remembering my admiration of the working environment and overall energy in the space.
During the interview, I also spoke a lot about my experience within the J-School, as well as my upcoming endeavor to work abroad in Dublin, Ireland, at a local media company. It was happenstance that VML’s Global CEO, Jon Cook, was sitting at the opposite end of the table and generously reached out to me post-interview asking that I’d keep VML in mind for future work opportunities. I capitalized on that meaningful connection and was persistent with staying in touch; I was eventually offered a fall internship in Kansas City, as I was attending my final year of college.
Having always desired to be a city dweller, this ultimately led me to an inter-company transfer to New York, where I started as a key support member on what was then a small retail and commerce team within the agency. The department has seen exponential growth since then, to what is now WPP’s global creative commerce agency, VMLY&R COMMERCE. I have now progressed as a senior commerce strategist, where I focus on both identifying commerce-driven growth opportunities and building existing client relationships within the agency.
What do you like best about your job? I feel that as the agency has grown and evolved, my role has evolved with it, which has been exciting to see take shape. The company culture at VMLY&R is unparalleled; from its people to its entrepreneurial opportunities to the industry-breaking work collective teams produce. I am truly never bored, as every day is different. Not least, I’ve had the opportunity to work across a myriad of verticals and for some of the world’s largest brands. At the moment, my key client focus is New Balance, which is an extraordinary match for my personality, and a company I admire.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I was the KU Ad Club president during my junior year of college, which was hugely advantageous in terms of gaining proper experience to make my way into the real world. Through this, my professional skills improved, and importantly, I made key connections within the industry and New York at whole. Challenging – yet not required – courses like Presentation Skills: Stand and Deliver, Honors courses, etc., were also central to my professional development.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Put yourself out there! Getting involved and staying connected are fundamental in college in order to not only work out what you want to do, but also meet the right people to help you get there. People are your biggest asset. Also, do not feel as if you need cookie-cutter experience when you are interviewing for a particular role or opportunity – skills can be learned; embrace who you are and use that to your advantage. Be a sponge; always stay curious and keep learning!
Creative Content Specialist, PAR Electrical Contractors Inc.
Graduation year: May 2019
Brief bio: I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas after my parents immigrated from Vietnam. My love of reading and writing as a child has led me down my current career path. I initially attended Wichita State University before transferring to the University of Kansas to finish my degree. It was one of the best decisions of my life. In May 2019, I graduated from KU with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. At KU, I was involved in several organizations such as The Odyssey Online, CHALK Magazine, KU Statehouse Wire Service, KJHK 90.7 FM, Rock Chalk Video, and Journalism Student Ambassador Program. I was previously a student assistant in the J-School’s Communications Office. Currently, I am a Creative Content Specialist at PAR Electrical Contractors Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri.
How did you get your current job? Upon graduation, I moved to Kansas City and applied online for several jobs in the area. I was patient and deliberate in my job search as I wanted the right fit. I randomly came across PAR on Indeed and decided to take a shot in the dark. I had no prior knowledge of PAR or the electrical construction industry. But of all my interviews, PAR had the greatest impact on me. It felt like I clicked with the company and I could see myself fitting in. I’ll never forget my excitement when PAR offered me the job. I immediately knew I had to accept.
What do you like best about your job? There are so many components to my job that it keeps me busy and constantly learning. Every day is different, and I never know what to expect. There are always opportunities for growth and training, which I appreciate. I can tell that PAR cares about their employees. Each person plays a significant role and usually wears multiple hats. On the Commercial Support team, I balance a wide range of responsibilities, from assisting with project bids and proposals within our regional divisions to overall marketing communications. As a Creative Content Specialist, I get the best of both worlds: business and creativity.
Most of all, I like the connections and relationships at PAR. My coworkers have always treated me with respect and valued my thoughts. When I was a newcomer, they were especially patient and supportive, and taught me everything about the job. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone many times, but I know my team is always there to back me up! (Plus, they never fail to make me smile.)
How did the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School puts its students on the path to success and provides the resources to ensure students stay on that path, despite any obstacles. Honestly, the J-School has done more for me than I could’ve ever imagined. In the classroom, I was taught useful skills, treated like a professional, and given hands-on real world experience. As a journalism student, I was also given opportunities that were once in a lifetime. I’ve formed bonds with J-School professors and mentors that I still stay in touch with to this day.
With my job now, all these past experiences prepared me to communicate effectively, multitask, meet deadlines, be accountable for my work, create content across various mediums, form genuine relationships, and more. The J-School also taught me how to be proficient in writing, editing, technology, design, and research, which has been especially useful. Even though I’m learning new things at PAR, a lot of my journalism knowledge transferred over.
Overall, the J-School prepared me to be a well-rounded, skill-equipped professional who has realized her full potential. I would not be where I am today without the J-School and everyone there, and I am forever grateful. I’m always proud to tell people I’m a KU journalism alum!
What advice would you give to journalism students? Whenever an opportunity presents itself, take it. Always be curious; always learn; and always try to be better. It’s not about how good you are, but rather it’s about how good you want to be. Go to the workshops and events that the J-School offers, take advantage of the tools and resources, and don’t be afraid to talk to your professors. Some of the best lessons I learned were during one-on-one conversations with my professors.
Think. Plan. Execute. Those three simple steps are the blueprint to achieve any goal. When you feel overwhelmed, remember this: “Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.”
You will face fear and uncertainty, but that just means you’re growing into something greater by challenging yourself. Remind yourself what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Whatever it is, pour your heart and soul into your work. What you put into things is what you get out of them. But the most important thing is to take care of your physical and mental health. Listen to your body and take breaks as needed. Give yourself time to enjoy the things you love. It’s all about having balance.
And finally, the three principles of the J-School are skills, passion, and integrity. Stay true to them and you will be successful.
Cloud Generation Specialist, Pax8
Graduation year: 2019
Biography: My name is Caroline Appleby and I am from Minnesota, but I chose to come to KU and it was the best decision of my life. I just graduated from the J-School with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a concentration in News and Information. I followed my dream of moving to Denver, Colorado and landed a job in the Denver Tech Center.
What do you do in your job? My current job is at Pax8 in Greenwood Village Colorado in the Denver Tech Center and I am a Cloud Generation Specialist. I work for a cloud solution distributor that works with over 30 different vendors and we target small to mid-size businesses and help them get into the cloud space. I am working on the sales team making relationships with many of those potential partners.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? My ability to communicate and not be afraid to put myself out there was a huge thing for me starting a new job. Being a news focus, you are forced to step outside of your comfort zone to become better and that helped me jump into a new job. I also made life long relationships with professors that helped me throughout the job search process. I think a big thing the J-School focused on was that no matter what you do, do it with all your heart and I found that when you find that passion and fire, it makes it a whole lot easier to do that. I am thankful for the amazing education the J-School gave me. Although I changed my path and went a more business side, my journalism roots helped me get where I am today.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Get involved as soon as you can in both the J-School and campus organizations. This made a huge difference in being a well-rounded candidate and it highlighted some of my skills. Also, don't be afraid to talk with professors. They know the field and want to see you succeed. They’re willing to help in any way they can. Wear your Jayhawk pride proud–you never know when someone you are interviewing with is also a Jayhawk. (It happened to me with my Pax8 interview!) Rock Chalk and forever a J-School Jayhawk!
Account Executive, Hillsboro Hops
Graduation year: 2017
Biography: My name is Hallie and I am a 2017 J-School graduate. I grew up in Sammamish, Washington and now live in Portland, Oregon. I chose KU because I fell in love with Lawrence and for my love of college basketball. My love of sports is what eventually led me to my career today. Outside of work, I enjoy trying new restaurants, hiking and going to concerts.
How did you get your current job? I’m an account executive for the Hillsboro Hops baseball team, a Single-A Short Season affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. I grew up around baseball and always wanted to work in it in some capacity, but I wasn’t able to land anything in the industry after graduation. After working for a year at Pennington & Company in Lawrence, Kansas, I took a job with a collegiate summer league team in Rochester, New York. My experience there as an assistant general manager is what led me to pursue jobs in Minor League Baseball. I researched teams in areas that I could see myself moving to and contacted general managers. I had one strong ally in the Northwest League who was an advocate for me and helped connect me with different teams!
What do you like best about your job? As a Single-A Short Season team, the best part about working at this level is the opportunity to have your hands in every aspect of the organization. Our front office staff is only about 15 employees, and so while my main and first focus as an account executive is ticket sales, I have other responsibilities as well. As an account executive, I am responsible for prospecting and landing new business clients for group outings, hospitality events or ticket packages. In addition to sales, I work in the ticketing office—organizing will call tickets for each game day—and help plan promotion nights during the season. Day-to-day, I do mostly out-bound sales. I work with clients via email, by appointment or over the phone. What I like most about my job is the variety of tasks that are included in my role. Selling is my priority, but unlike larger sports organizations, my role isn’t nearly as specialized—I have the freedom to do work outside of sales.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me for the workforce by providing me with a variety of courses within the Strategic Communications track. I feel like I know basic elements of design, research and data gathering tactics, to the structure and roles of an account management team. Being able to apply my knowledge in a variety of areas shows the versatility of the Strategic Communications emphasis.
What advice would you give to journalism students? No opportunity is a wasted opportunity. Take initiative, get involved and work hard.
Associate Account Executive, The Marketing Store
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: Vanessa Gonzales is a new Chicago resident, working at The Marketing Store’s retail experience team for McDonald’s. Her previous advertising experience included account internships with Sullivan Higdon & Sink and Bernstein-Rein.
How did you get your current job? I worked enough internships and class projects to give me the right kind of experience matched with lots of networking and internet-stalking (reaching out to strangers on LinkedIn). In addition, my exposure to McDonald's during my internship at Bernstein-Rein was a unique advantage in my interview.
What do you like best about your job? I work on the retail experience team for McDonald's as an Associate Account Executive. I manage and build relationships with our clients, while leading creative teams to execute the right kind of messaging along the customer journey at McDonald’s. One day might include a tasting and photo shoot for a new menu item, and another day might be preparing for a client presentation.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? Working on group projects so heavily during my four years really prepared me for the tight timelines and the hustle and bustle of my career. In addition, building a strong foundation in writing and research was crucial as I continue to develop as a thinker and communicator when problem solving each day.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Never settle and keep pushing for new opportunities or ways to capitalize on current ones. Take advantage of office hours and asking for feedback. When networking or going to office hours, come prepared and have a goal in mind. And most importantly, be clear in what you want when talking to people who can help get you to where you want. I think it's great to have certain mentors where you tell them you have no idea what you're doing (thanks, Dr. Chen!) and key people in your network where you are clearer with your goals.
Internal Communication Associate, Garmin
Graduation year: 2014
Biography: I majored in journalism with emphasis on both news and information and strategic communications during my undergrad. I worked at the University Daily Kansas as a photographer and photo editor for most of my time at KU. After graduating, I moved to Kansas City and worked at a few different companies in various communication/client relations positions before coming to Garmin in September 2018. I am also getting my master's at the Edwards Campus in Integrated Marketing Communications–showing that KU Journalism is one of the best programs in the nation!
How did you get your current job? I worked at DST at the time, and the company was going through layoffs, which led me to start looking on LinkedIn for other opportunities. Garmin was hiring for a brand-new position, and I knew that I would be a good fit thanks to my journalism background and experiences.
What do you like best about your job? I work with the senior internal communications specialist on all internal and corporate messaging: digital displays, corporate handbooks, the internal blog and so much more for clients like HR, facilities, security, investor relations, etc. across all of our offices around the world. I enjoy getting to see all the different projects that our company does across all the offices. Every office has different needs and requests, and it's all about how you meet deadlines and balance everything.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me to tackle so many different types of projects and clients. No one thing will ever be the same, and the types of classes offered as an undergrad helped me understand that early on.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Be flexible. Your post-grad path may not be what you envisioned, but it will all work out how it's supposed to.
Community Reporter, Kansas City PBS
Graduation year: 2016
Biography: Vicky is a journalist born in Los Angeles and raised in El Paso, Texas, who is now based in Kansas City. She's dedicated to telling stories about culture, art and music. That interest sprouted from a fascination in listening to her grandfather's stories, specifically of fitting in, struggle and victory, and from poverty to the American dream. Her work has been featured in local, national and international news and arts publications such as NPR, KCUR, KNEON Magazine and Houzz. She focuses on cultural dialogue and its impact on art, design, music and policy. She is a trained copy editor and multimedia reporter. Her work has been used in multiple platforms and includes radio features, data blitzes, newscasts, breaking news online and in print. She's the community reporter at Kansas City's PBS magazine, Flatland. There she leads curiousKC, a community-powered reporting effort that invites Kansas Citians to ask questions and investigate with the journalist. Before that, she was the data journalist/research director at the Kansas City Business Journal, where she wrangled data to produce informative business coverage on topics ranging from minority homeownership to Kansas City barbecue.
How did you get your current job? Patience and persistence. I had applied several times for other positions at Kansas City PBS that didn't align with my skills. Then I saw the opening for a community reporter and knew it was a potential fit. I'd already worked a few jobs in the journalism field that fit like oversized shoes and one that fit perfectly – that one was in public media. I'm grateful to the Kansas City PBS editor who met with me before the official interview. He believed in my work and helped make the case that I should be their community reporter.
What do you like best about your job? In a nutshell, I connect with people, listen to them and report on issues they care about. I manage a publicly led question-and-answer effort Kansas City PBS calls curiousKC. I do lots of public engagement, active listening and keep my finger on the pulse of current events and local conversations. I'm on a quest to find what people – all voices – care about. I do meaningful local journalism. This job fits the public media mission I hold so dear, which is to create, communicate and curate content that "educates, inspires and entertains."
My particular role flips journalism on its head and lets the audience and readers weigh in or fill in the blank. In effect, we work with the public to gain a better understanding of what they wonder or worry about. Some days I dig through government records or library archives, other days I'm interviewing research experts and booking interviews. My job is fueled by and made possible by the creative minds here in the newsroom. We get to make sense of information a number of different ways: data visualizations, videos, radio segments, historical timelines and the traditional article. At the end of the day, I get to produce informative pieces for the public knowledge, providing a service that not only engages but also edifies.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I give credit to the professors who believed in me and challenged me. There's a colloquial word in Spanish that explains the kind of person I am: trucha. Looslely translated, that means "vigilant." But I can also be shy, so being in a new town at a new school in 2013 was difficult. All I needed was that spark. Shout out to Lisa McLendon, copy editing professor extraordinaire, who showed how I could channel my meticulous nature into a profession. A huge thanks to Pam Fine, who made me feel heard and valued and who pushed back and challenged me to do better work. My advisers (miss you Kevin and Kelli!) were also crucial to my development. When I doubted, they encouraged. They made sure to help me find support, even financial support through scholarships. And my first job when I moved to Lawrence was for the J-School career center, so I have to give it credit there because seeing the list of opportunities gave me hope.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Journalism takes heart and you have it. Yes, you will feel drained, and at times, second guess what you're doing. You are not alone. Also, I must add a plug for self-care; it is so important. Take a mental health day after a long news cycle because what we do can be emotionally difficult. Take pride in the work you do – whether it is music journalism or breaking news. You're making a difference and shedding light on something perhaps others may not have. When you feel like you're drowned out or tired, recall the moments when you made a difference through your work. Think about 1 a.m. pizza or doughnuts in the newsroom, laugh-crying at how long production takes surrounded by dedicated, like-minded people. It wouldn't be the same without them, right? Your voice is unique because of your personal story and passion – and this is what makes this profession so special. Make new friends – people unlike you, people with different backgrounds – and take the time to simply listen. Ask for help. When you practice that in life, you'll do better at your job. Finally, remember to support fellow journalists along the way because we maximize our impact when we work together. Pa'lante, mi gente.
Owner, Drone Lawrence & Social Media Coordinator, Southwind
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I’m a fourth-generation Jayhawk from the great town of Atchison, Kansas. I’m extremely grateful that I knew I wanted to attend the University of Kansas at such a young age because it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Growing up, I loved to write. I remember writing short stories in elementary and middle school, and feeling like it was the start of my creative journey, even though I didn't exactly know what that meant yet. Throughout high school, I was always enthralled with the world of social media and crafting my online presence. The first opportunity I had to work in the field of social media was running the accounts of my high school, Maur Hill-Mount Academy. While my only responsibilities were to update our followers on scores from sporting events, I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by social media in a professional setting during or after college. My junior year of college, I was hired as the social media editor for the University Daily Kansan, which was an experience I’ll forever be grateful for. It was at the UDK where I came up with the idea for Drone Lawrence, which originally started out as a creative outlet for my main passions of flying drones and editing. I never expected it to turn into a business, but luckily, I still love droning and see it as a hobby. I have multiple clients in the Lawrence area, and I’m continuing to grow the Drone Lawrence name. Thanks to this, I was able to land a social media coordinator position at Southwind in Lenexa, Kansas, in which I’ve been at since January.
How did you get your current job? As far as Drone Lawrence goes, I created the business so it wasn’t too hard to get the job. But I got my job at Southwind through my online presence and past creative work. If I never created Drone Lawrence, I don’t think I would be in the position I am today at Southwind.
What do you like best about your job? My work at Drone Lawrence mainly consists of meeting with clients, understanding their vision and then capturing the best possible shots for them. The editing process is the most fun for me, where I can take the aerial footage and make it stand out on social media. My work at Southwind consists of managing seven different 1-800-Got-Junk franchises social media accounts, as well as You Move Me Kansas City. What I love most about both of my jobs is the creative freedom I have. While there are certain guidelines that might need to be followed per request by the client, I always feel that I work best when I can create something in my own style. I am lucky to have found a job so early in life where I feel like my work is important.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in ways that I didn’t even know until after I graduated. While the school curriculum itself is important for valuable skills in the workforce, the J-School gives you all the tools you need to go out there and do it yourself. The capstone campaigns class is a great example of this, as it combines everything you’ve learned the previous four years and throws you into a real-life situation with a real-life client. The J-School and college, in general, can provide you with many different tools in order to succeed in the workforce, but what really matters is how you use those tools and build upon them.
What advice would you give to journalism students? It’s OK to not have everything figured out going into senior year and even right when you graduate. Everyone's path is different. Don’t settle for a job that you can easily get if you’re not doing the work you love. Keep building your portfolio and people will notice!
Public Relations Coordinator, State Fair of Texas
Graduation year: 2017
Biography: I was born in Topeka, Kansas, but moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, when I was 13 years old. I loved Arkansas but decided to branch out and attend the University of Kansas to major in journalism on the strategic communication track and minor in business. As the first Austin to attend college and only knowing a handful of people in my class, I quickly got involved in my sorority, Panhellenic, Student Senate, and as many organizations as I could find time for. My internship senior year with Kansas Athletics was the most instrumental in developing me for my professional career. Working in athletics taught me how to thrive under pressure, be professional and produce a quality product. My superiors challenged me daily and really set me up for success. I definitely thought I’d continue to work in sports, but when I had the opportunity to join the team at the State Fair of Texas, it was a no-brainer. From being a nonprofit, to the entertainment and sports components of my job, it is more than I could have ever dreamed of for my first job.
How did you get your current job? I applied for an internship with the State Fair of Texas, beginning the summer after I graduated. I interviewed via Skype and immediately fell in love with the public relations team. They called me back that day and offered me the internship! As one of seven public relations interns and six media relations coordinators, we were notified shortly after starting that there would be a full-time position opening at the end of the fair season, and we were welcome to apply. I threw my name in the hat, worked hard and learned as much as I could – I was determined to be a front-runner for the job. Come closing weekend of the fair, I was officially offered a job as a public relations coordinator.
What do you like best about your job? The State Fair of Texas is a 24-day exhibition in the heart of Dallas. As one of the biggest fairs in the country and a nonprofit, our mission is to celebrate all things Texan by promoting agriculture education, and community involvement. As a public relations coordinator, I wear a variety of different hats, depending on the season. While we’re constantly writing and editing, we’re also looking for ways to best tell the story of the State Fair of Texas. Year-round, I also manage the Big Tex Scholarship Program – a program that has awarded more than $11.3 million since 1992.
In addition, I have the opportunity to work with local, statewide, national and even international media leading up to and during the State Fair. In my two years with the fair, I’ve worked with Food Network, Travel Channel, ESPN GameDay and other big productions. My favorite part of my job is knowing I’m contributing to an organization that does so much to better the community and help families and friends create memories to last a lifetime. I feel so fortunate knowing I work somewhere that is so deeply rooted in Texas history and tradition. Every day at the fair is a fun day!
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in too many ways to share. At times, coursework in the J-School was challenging and rigorous, but it taught me how to prioritize effectively, think creatively and be a problem solver. The professors were nothing short of amazing. I appreciated how diverse each professor’s background was – it allowed me to learn from the best of the best in a variety of expertises. In addition, it taught me how to interact with different personalities and leadership styles. Oh, and how could I forget, I’m forever indebted to the J-School for hammering AP Style home because I live and breathe by that guide each day at my job.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Take every opportunity you can to learn and grow in your professional career. Throughout college, I had multiple internships and jobs that taught me a variety of skills. I was able to learn what I liked and didn’t like, in addition to what I was really good at. Along the way, I met some of the most incredible people. Working in journalism is all about working with people. Take time to build relationships with your peers, professors, bosses, customers and clients. Remember that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Finally, don’t be afraid to take an internship or something that may not be your “dream job” right after college. You never know where an opportunity may lead you or what other doors it may open for your future.
Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter, KVRR News
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I came to KU via Chicago, knowing it was the right place for me. I was able to get involved with sports production jobs as soon as I stepped on campus like working the football and basketball games. That evolved into something way bigger and I eventually was able to create a brand alongside other fellow alums called "The Playmakers" and cover a variety of sports.
Favorite memory from the J-School? This is really hard to choose from because there is so many. If I had to pick one, I'd go with covering the Final Four my last semester in the J-School. For me, it was the biggest reward I could receive for all the work I put in over my time as a Jayhawk and getting to where I want to be. Getting to be around other sportscasters who I looked up to and had the chance to talk and network with, I was on cloud nine.
How did you get your current job? It didn't come easy. I spent four months sending out my reel to over a hundred different openings before I accepted my position as Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter at KVRR News in Fargo, North Dakota. Looking back, it was my experiences as a Jayhawk that got me here. Professors like Cal Butcher, Max Utsler and Jerry Crawford afforded me opportunities to work with FOX Sports, interview prospects at Royals Training Camo, start my own sports show, anchor sports on KUJH and so many other opportunities I can name. Every opportunity I've had led to my full-time job with MidcoSN in Lawrence my senior year covering KU and high school sports. From there, I was afforded my shot and took it from there.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? Through all the opportunities the J-School allowed me to do. Being thrown into the fire so to say. It was the best way for me to learn; putting myself in the environment I wanted to be in and figure out how I could work effectively with in that. Interviewing coaches, co-hosting soccer and hockey broadcasts, covering NCAA Tournament games for volleyball and basketball–all of them helped me to be more comfortable in the current position I am now, covering two division one programs in North Dakota and at North Dakota State along with many other high schools in the area.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Take advantage of the opportunities. It sounds easy, but if I was not presented with the experiences I had, I would have no idea what I was doing. You can only learn so much in the classroom. It's what you're able to take out of the classroom and put into a real world experience. That's when you know you've learned something.
Graduate Assistant, DePaul University
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I was born in Chicago, Illinois, but moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where I grew up. It wasn't until high school that I realized being a journalist was my passion. I just really love telling people's stories. Once I graduated from The Meadows School, I spent my freshmen year at the University of San Diego. Despite the gorgeous weather and campus, it just wasn't the right fit for me. I began the transfer process and only applied to one school: KU. I visited and immediately fell in love and by that August, I found myself in Lawrence, Kansas, where I spent three amazing years studying journalism on the news & information track.
I was part of KUJH-TV as a reporter and sports anchor for two years before I made the decision to get out of reporting and move into sports information. It was different in a lot of ways but also very similar. I worked with Kansas Athletics throughout my entire senior year and had the most amazing experience. I had always known I wanted to work in athletics in some capacity, but I was lucky enough to find my dream job when I did. I had the privilege of working with football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball -- whether it was doing something on the game operations side or writing features for the website.
I am now a graduate assistant at DePaul University. I work in sports information in the Athletic Department and am the primary contact for men's and women's soccer.
Favorite memory from the J-School? One of my favorite memories from the J-School was being a part of the Journalism 500: Royal Dozen, where we had the opportunity to fly down to Surprise, Arizona, for the Royals Spring Training and put together multimedia features on three minor league players. It was an amazing opportunity that our professors Max Utsler and Scott Reinardy offered, and I am so thankful for the experience.
How did you get your current job? I spent about five months applying to everything I saw pop-up on job boards across the country and got rejected from almost all of them, except one around the end of June. To me, it was all about the hustle. The rejection just made me hungrier and more motivated to find that right fit for me. Along came a job posting on DePaul's website that I applied for immediately. I followed up a day or two later through email and had an interview later in the week. Thankfully, the interview process went smoothly, and I am now living in Lincoln Park back in Chicago knowing my dream had come full circle.
What do you like best about your job? There are a lot of different components to my job. As the primary contact for women's soccer, I run each team's social media accounts, input the statistics for each game, make graphics for social media or the website, handle media requests post-game and throughout the season, write recaps, press releases and features and keep up the website during the off-season. I also help out during the men's and women's basketball seasons with social media, inputting stats and game operations.
What I like the most is that I do something different every day. While it might be the same things on a regular basis during the season, there's nothing like the feeling of game day. I get to form connections with the coaching staff and players that help me be the best at my job I can be.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me for the workforce in so many ways. I use my hands-on experiences with cameras and graphic design tools as well as writing every single day. The career fairs helped me make connections that I still have to this day. The ethics class I took with Dr. Jerry Crawford is one of the best classes I have ever taken in my college career -- both on a learning scale as well as how to handle difficult conversations in the industry.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Make connections with your professors and classmates. To this day, I still talk to a few of my professors, and they still give me advice. There are plenty Jayhawks who graduated from the J-School this last May who are now in Chicago, and we all get together. I like to think that wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the J-School. I had so many amazing opportunities and classes I was able to take that have provided me with information I use to this day. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions and speak your mind. There's always someone who is wondering or thinking the same thing, which creates incredible conversations, especially in this industry. I am so thankful for the experience I had in the J-School so take advantage of it during your years there. That saying "College is the best years of your life" is true and it truly goes by in the blink of an eye!
News Producer, KCTV5
Graduation year: 2016
Biography: I was born in the Chicago area but moved to Overland Park, Kansas, during the third grade. When I was in eighth grade signing up for my high school electives at Blue Valley West, I was sitting down with my mom in our kitchen deciding what to take. She knew I was interested in media and writing, so she suggested I take Intro to Journalism and said, “Hey, even if you don’t like it, that’s OK.” But she was absolutely right in making me take it, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I owe her a lot for that. I was a newspaper editor in high school and switched to broadcast news during my college years.
How did you get your current job? After walking at Commencement in May of 2016, I still had one more summer class to take – but was still actively searching for a job. I knew I didn’t want to be on TV, but knew I wanted to produce or edit. I got a call in early June 2016 from the KUJH news director at the time, Chris Bacon, asking if I wanted to move back to Kansas City, and that there was an opening for a morning show producer at KCTV5. I thought he was joking. I didn’t think I was able to get a job in a top 50 TV market at 22 years old, but I interviewed for the job and got an offer in mid-June. I began in August of that year.
What do you like best about your job? Since then, I’ve been moved around to a couple of different shifts. Now I produce the 4 p.m. newscast Monday-Friday at KCTV5, and I really enjoy it. I write the show, talk with reporters throughout the day about their stories for my show, and help with some graphics. I like the fact that every day is different. When I go to the station in the morning, I never truly know what I’m in for. I believe that’s one of the fun things about news. Some days are much more stressful than others, but that’s part of the job.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I produced for KUJH my senior year, and I use the skills I learned there every day at work. I still connect with alumni and former classmates in the field. The program taught me how to put myself out there and just go. The professors I had truly wanted to see me succeed, and they helped me do so, getting me to where I am now.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Other graduates will tell you this, too, but I can’t stress it enough: get involved in and out of the classroom. I learned more about journalism and myself in my experiences outside of lectures than I did just sitting in class. There are so many opportunities at the J-School for you to learn and grow, and I wish I’d done even more than I did while I was there. Enjoy it all right now, because it goes by way too fast. And lastly, good luck.
Reporter/Multimedia Journalist, WJCL News
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I grew up imitating newscasters, reconstructing NBA finals moments, and impersonating famous people. It technically wasn't the start of a career in media/journalism, but I was telling stories! I grew up in the Kansas City metro area and went on to the legendary Bishop Miege High School (Go Stags!) Then I wanted to go to college close to New York City because I figured it was the hub of television. But after visiting KU and the J-School, I immediately fell in love. During my time at the KU, I became involved with KJHK, Media Crossroads, KUJH, and Pi Kappa Alpha. The amazing opportunities given to me through these organizations allowed me to intern at Cumulus Media, KSNT News in Topeka, KCTV5 News in Kansas City, and CBS News in New York City. After graduating in May 2018, I made the decision to head down south to Savannah, Georgia, for my first reporting job. So far, I have loved the experience and the many things I have done so far. I have covered the midterm election, Hurricane Michael, and have worked on an investigation for seven months. It hasn't been easy, but it has been rewarding as I learn new things each day!
How did you get your current job? Three things got me my job in Savannah: networking, starting earlier, and what many people refer to as "the hustle." I knew I had to network with people who knew other people at TV stations where I wanted to work. However, I had to apply myself early, tracking down the best possible options and avenues to start my career. I then had to "hustle," meaning I had to stay ahead of the curve and do things when nobody was looking to help me get where I want to be.
What do you like best about your job? The fact that I get encounter new people and stories every day is unlike any profession in the world. We get to tell stories that otherwise would not get told and put truth out to the world. I love that we have the ability to tell stories. In my job, I pitch a story, newsgather, interview, shoot, write, edit and then go live later that night.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in ways in that I didn't even know I needed preparation: being around like-minded journalists, instructors who cared for me, and learning endless information from the opportunities I had from my internships. However, a bulk of what I do I learned from working at KUJH and being in Dole at unreasonable hours. This is where Max Utsler, Chris Bacon, Chad Curtis, and Cal Butcher helped teach me things in the profession that I still use today.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Take your craft seriously, but don't take yourself too serious. Enjoy each moment but realize what you have to do in order to get where you want to be. Learn as much as you can, enjoy college, and embrace the grind!
Account Supervisor, G&S Business Communications
Graduation year: 2011
Biography: Laura has been making headlines for her clients for the last five years. Whether it’s getting a client quoted as the only thought leader in a syndicated wire story on breaking news from the Supreme Court, or inviting a New York Times reporter to get the scoop on a health epidemic, Laura exceeds public relations objectives for her clients across all industries. Most experienced supporting clients in the healthcare industry, Laura also works her magic for organizations in financial and professional services.
Laura is a strong believer in the power of PR and comes to the table with strategic insights and a tireless work ethic. From rolling up her sleeves to pitch new media, to computing and analyzing quarterly metric dashboards and KPIs, she enjoys seeing her clients’ public relations campaigns through from start to finish – and ensures the “finish” not only elevates her clients but enhances their business impact in the marketplace.
Outside the office, Laura is an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. If you’re looking for her, check out the city’s running paths, the streets of TriBeCa or any winery on the East Coast.
How did you get your current job? During grad school, I started working in marketing and really enjoyed diving right into communications. My ice cream company client had a major event coming up and challenged me to think outside of the marketing box. So, I researched local food reporters and bloggers and invited them to the event. Turns out, that’s public relations. I was thankful for my time in marketing but realized my passion was in PR. I researched various communications organizations in New York and found NYWICI, a not-for-profit association of female communication professionals. Their website led me to an online job board which hosts open opportunities in marketing, advertising and PR. I discovered the PR company CooperKatz, applied and have been with the company for the last five years. (As a note, in August, we were acquired and changed our name to G&S Business Communications.)
What do you like best about your job? Public relations is the business of connecting people (clients, brands, companies) with the media. As a PR professional, I spend my time immersed in the news and magazines to understand what reporters are covering, and what’s making headlines. I use this knowledge to insert my clients into the news cycle and I assist journalists by connecting them with my clients to give them the inside scoop. PR differs from marketing and advertising because it’s “earned” media, meaning that we are not paying for placements of our clients within the article text. Rather, the journalists are researching and writing their articles, and if I do my job right, my clients are included for the value they contribute to the story. My favorite part of my job is seeing the final story go to print. It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work and strategy that creates just one article. And seeing the final result is what motivates me to get another headline.
What advice would you give to journalism students? I was a strategic communications major yet I didn’t test the waters of PR while in school. I focused on marketing – and that still very much prepared me for the workforce. In college, we learned about the art of storytelling. What “tale” does it take to reach an audience with a specific message? I didn’t quite understand the “strategic” part of strategic communications until I had to put my degree to work. Each day, I’m problem solving for my clients. I’m constantly evaluating what messages they want to get out and where’s the best place to reach their target audiences. PR is one tactic in the communications toolkit, but a very specialized one. When done correctly, PR can inspire change and influence behaviors. Strategy is part of the job.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? Go out there and just do. The classroom is a phenomenal foundation, but real-life experience comes from jumping right in. Throughout my undergrad, I interned for the KU alumni association, a marketing firm, a clothing company, my sorority headquarters, an architecture firm and the Sunflower State Games. Each taught me things I enjoyed doing, and things I didn’t like as much. It took me working in marketing for almost two years to see that my knack was in something similar, but completely different. You won’t know until you try! Reach out to alumni at companies that interest you and ask for an informational interview. Learn and try new things!
Content Strategist, KAOH Media
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I am a 2018 J-School graduate working and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a content strategist for KAOH Media, a public relations firm. I started at KU as a news and information journalism student but switched to strategic communications after falling in love with Carol Holstead’s JOUR 300 class and graphic design. In my time at KU, I served as an orientation assistant for the University and was very involved with KJHK, our student-run radio station, where I had some of my greatest learning experiences. I spent my senior year working as the station’s social media director.
How did you get your current job? I had a lot of great real-world experience upon graduation like internships, involvement in student organizations, leadership positions and part-time jobs that helped me build connections and become more “marketable.” I found my current job posting on an online job site and after a few rounds of interviews, I was hired.
What do you like best about your job? On a day-to-day basis, I am busy creating, designing and deploying content for multiple brands. I work up editorial calendars for our clients, place and target ads on social, track the metrics and work on the ad budget. Most of our clients are renewable energy developers around the Midwest. I’ve always been super passionate about the environment and sustainability efforts, so the best part about my job is being excited about the work I’m doing.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? During my senior year, I took full advantage of the J-School tech workshops. In those workshops, I learned about so many helpful apps and tricks that I still use in the real world and have passed on to colleagues. I also have to mention Strategic Campaigns capstone class —without campaigns I honestly don’t think I would have gotten my current job. My campaigns group forced me to be our team’s creative director and during that semester, I learned so much and was able to create an awesome portfolio that impressed my current employer.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Get involved outside of the classroom. A lot of my greatest learning moments happened when I put what I learned in class to action. There are opportunities on and off campus to learn and grow, and they will help set you up for success.
Multimedia Journalist, WECT
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I was born and raised in the small town of De Soto, Kansas, about 20 minutes away from Kansas City. During freshmen year of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life; I just knew I wanted to be in front of a camera and I loved writing. I put those two ideas together and came up with broadcast journalism my sophomore year. I graduated from St. James Academy and became a Jayhawk aiming to become a news anchor. But once I learned how much I love making connections with people and realizing that everyone has their own unique story, I decided I wanted to be a news reporter instead. I always dreamed of living in the Carolinas by the beach, and I was stubborn enough to make that happen. A few job offers later, I accepted a job in Wilmington, North Carolina, as a multimedia journalist. If I’m not running around the town gathering interviews and content for my next story, you can find me running on the beach or in a coffee shop reading and catching up on emails.
How did you get your current job? I have family in Charlotte, North Carolina, and grew up visiting the Carolinas from a young age, creating a fixation on the beauty of the southern East Coast. Throughout my college career, I interned at the former Channel 6 News in Lawrence for a semester my junior year. Then, I accepted a part-time job that also gave me class credit with WIBW in Topeka as a morning producer and reporter my last semester of senior year. In late July, I finally accepted a position at WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina, as a reporter. I stuck with my intuition and can now say I’m living out my life-long dream.
What do you like best about your job? When I first became a reporter, I loved putting stories together as if they were a puzzle for me. I pitch a story idea, gather my interviews, shoot b-roll, write my script, write a web story, and then go live for the evening news. However, after experiencing Hurricane Florence in September of 2018, my answer has changed. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve done on hurricane survivors asking for help from the community. Anytime I do a story on someone calling out for help, and then I get calls and emails from viewers offering to help after seeing the story I produced, that’s when I know I did my job right. It’s one thing to produce a story, but to have an effect on someone who needs help and receives it because of you, that’s a feeling I’ll never forget.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me for the workload. Every day is a new challenge. There is a lot of multitasking going on. In school, I had to balance other class loads on top of journalism tasks. In my current job, I have to balance multiple stories in one day, creating VOSOTS and packages in one day and creating a web story on top of all that, and make the deadlines of course. Even on days I’m not sure I’ll make it, I somehow always do.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Live your life outside your comfort zone. I believe doing things that scare you the most are the things you should do the most because you’ll learn so much about yourself. I created a whole new life in Wilmington. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know the city, I’d never lived outside of Kansas, I was on my own for the very first time in my life, and I was terrified. But I knew it was the best thing I could do for myself. The adjustment period was pretty hard but after a few months, Wilmington became home to me.
Corporate Partnership Sales and Research Coordinator, Chicago White Sox
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I grew up in Savage, Minnesota, and came to KU on a complete whim. I absolutely found my home in Lawrence. While at KU, I majored in journalism/strategic communication track with a minor in business. I was involved in Greek life, Jayhawks Dream, and the Journalism Student Leadership Board. My favorite KU experiences include basketball games, my study abroad experience, and Strategic Campaigns. Early on in high school, I knew I wanted to be involved in sports business in some capacity. I saw an opportunity through strategic communications to follow that dream. Throughout college I had various internships at marketing agencies and nonprofit organizations helping plan events and learning the ropes of the industry. In my senior year of college, I got a taste of my dream job through an internship with the Kansas City Royals. A yearlong internship with the Royals prepared me for my current role with the Chicago White Sox.
How did you get your current job? In college, I interned for a nonprofit organization planning a half-marathon. Throughout this internship, I was able to gain event planning experience as well as sponsorship experience through securing local sponsors for the race. My experience, along with amazing connections, helped me secure my internship with the Kansas City Royals. My internship with the Royals was what ultimately shaped my professional experience to get my current position in Chicago. A huge goal I had after my internship in Kansas City was to play up the skills I learned there and use connections to stay in professional sports. I was fortunate to have amazing connections from previous positions and the J-School to achieve that goal.
What do you like best about your job? I love that my job is different every day. Sponsorship in sports is kind of like the team’s own advertising agency. My department is broken into two divisions: sales and activation. The sales team pitches the deals to companies, which can include signage, naming rights, community programs, experiences, tickets, etc., and once the contract is signed, the activation team makes sure that everything actually happens. I am fortunate to work with both sides of the department in my role. I utilize key research platforms such as Nielsen services to develop the best sales pitch possible, taking into account a company’s own marketing strategy and how it aligns with the White Sox. I also help the activation team work with the clients to deliver the most effective strategic partnership possible.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School prepared me in many different ways. I utilize skills I learned in my classes every single day. The two most helpful classes that I took in college for my current position were Research Methods and Strategic Campaigns. The networking sessions over homecoming weekend also really helped me learn how to network and build connections with alumni.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Make connections with your classmates, your professors, and other J-School staff. They are there to help you! There are many opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten in life without making connections with the right people. Find what you’re passionate about and talk to people about it. You never know if someone shares your passion or can connect you to someone in your dream industry. Enjoy every single second because it goes by fast. Good luck!
News Reporter, KMOV St. Louis
Graduation year: 2016
Biography: I am originally from Evanston, Illinois, but moved to Overland Park at a young age and loved growing up in the Kansas City area. I was born into a household that watched the news religiously every night, and I caught the journalism bug at a young age. Some of my fondest memories are sitting with my dad as a young kid, trying to understand what anchors and reporters were talking about on the 5 o’clock news. I knew someday I wanted to become one of them. After graduating high school at Notre Dame de Sion, I knew the University of Kansas was the obvious choice to fuel my career aspirations in journalism. I learned invaluable skills throughout my four years, and complemented the curriculum during the summer with internships at KMBC-Channel 9 in Kansas City and The Today Show in New York. After graduating in 2016, I packed up my belongings and moved to Davenport, Iowa, for my first reporting gig in the Quad Cities. I spent two years covering Iowa and Illinois before accepting an opportunity closer to home and one I couldn’t pass up at KMOV in St. Louis. In the last year, I’ve had the privilege of covering Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, the duck boat tragedy in Branson, Missouri, and interviewing former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. In news, every day brings a new challenge, but I feel extremely blessed to be living my dream.
How did you get your current job? For me, persistence was key to landing my job in St. Louis. I expressed my interest in the position, knowledge of the Missouri area, and passion for journalism early on in the process. After sending my demo reel and resume, I followed up bi-weekly with the station to keep my interest in working there top of mind. Thankfully, they asked me to visit for an interview, and it worked out from there.
What is your favorite J-School memory? I have many favorite memories from being in the J-School—I will never forget the hard work and dedication my peers and I put into making a successful KUJH newscast each week. I learned how a newsroom operates and what it would take to succeed in the real world. Multiple times throughout the semester I would visit Max Utsler in his Cardinals-decked office to ask for feedback on my stories. His critiques helped me grow as a journalist—I know that I can call him now, too, for advice.
What advice would you give to journalism students? My advice for current journalism students would be to work hard and keep an end goal in mind. Whether it’s nailing a live shot, getting a great story or overcoming an obstacle in the field—all of those moments add up and will make you stronger in your career. In college, finding a job and pursuing your dream can seem overwhelming (I remember I was!) but if it is something you are truly passionate about, you won’t let it out of your sight.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the outstanding J-School at KU. Each year, we built upon curriculum that prepared me for a career in this industry. I was able to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it toward ‘real-world’ experiences such as KUJH and internships during the summers. Still to this day, I’ll be working and remember advice given to me sitting in class at the Dole Center or Stauffer-Flint Hall. The professors I had in the J-School wanted to see me succeed and went out of their way to help me to do so.
Public Information Officer, Kansas Department of Commerce
Graduation year: 2017
Biography: I grew up in Topeka, Kansas, where I was raised by my terrific parents, Susan and Mike Brinker, along with my sister, Abby. I graduated from KU with degrees in journalism and political science. Growing up, even when I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I always knew for sure that I wanted to tell stories. In high school, I became interested in writing. I was convinced I would be an author. However, a friend suggested I look into journalism as a major in college because it had a more concrete career destination. Right from J101, I was hooked.
How did you get your current job? In my last semester, I took a part-time job at WIBW-TV in Topeka as a technical media producer. Since I had spent most of my time at KU studying the video-production aspects of journalism, this seemed like the perfect job, so I accepted a full-time position after graduation. After a year, a friend pointed me to an opening at the Kansas Department of Commerce. The job caught my eye, specifically because the department was looking for someone to do in-house video production in addition to daily writing requirements. I knew the position would be tough to get so soon out of college, but I took a chance and was lucky enough to get the job. I couldn’t be happier with it.
What is your favorite J-School memory? There are so many to choose from. I suppose if I had to pick one experience, it would be my time in Tien Tsung-Lee’s Campaigns class. Tien had high expectations (I’m sure he still does), but in the absolute best way. I was lucky enough to have the greatest team anyone could ever ask for. Every moment of that class is a cherished memory for me. Tien was instrumental in helping me get the job I have now, I owe him quite a lot (as I’ve told him).
What advice would you give to journalism students? Please, please, please get involved. The classes taught in the J-School are terrific, but if you only go to class and do nothing else, you’re missing out on so much that the J-School has to offer. I learned way more in my time at KUJH-TV and my time doing A/V at the Dole Institute of Politics than any class could ever have taught me. Even more than that, there are opportunities everywhere! There are so many stories to tell. I used to go to businesses or charities and ask if they wanted me to write an article or shoot a video for them to share online. They never said no. It’s terrific practice, and people are always appreciative when you offer to tell about their experiences. Plus, you can keep these stories/videos as examples to show future employers. Bottom line: go to class and do your work, but after class, get out there and find some stories to tell!
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I use the skills I learned in J-School every day on the job. Lessons learned on ad campaigns, video production, interviewing, writing for print, writing for broadcast, everything. The J-School absolutely prepared me for a job in professional communications.
Communications Specialist, University of Kansas School of Law
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, so I have been a fan of the Jayhawks since I was born. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in global and international studies. Throughout college, I had a variety of different journalistic experiences. I interned at a creative branding agency in London, England for a summer, worked at the University Daily Kansan newspaper as a copy chief and photographer, interned and took pictures for the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper, produced the student-run television show Greek TV and worked behind the scenes at KUJH-TV for a semester.
How did you get your current job? The Journalism School’s career and outreach coordinator, Steve Rottinghaus, tweeted about a job opening at KU Law. I applied for the job while I was on a plane headed to Iceland for a two-week vacation. The day after I got back from my trip, I did an interview and was hired.
What do you like best about your job? I love that I get to do different things at my job every day. No two days are ever the same. I get the opportunity to use a variety of skills, such as writing, designing, copy editing, taking pictures and video, developing strategic communications plans, managing social media channels and making website updates.
How did the J-School prepare you for the workforce? I took classes about writing, reporting, visual storytelling, copy editing, photojournalism, broadcast journalism, graphic design, video production, digital media and international strategic communications. The topics I learned about in my classes are directly relevant to what I do at my job. Lisa McLendon and Gerri Berendzen’s co-taught class, Digital Media Topics, was one of the most influential classes I took during my time in the J-School. I would highly recommend taking this course!
What career advice do you have for journalism students? Try to figure out what you are passionate about early on. You can take classes and pursue internships in that field, which will be helpful post-graduation when you are searching for your first full-time job. Employers are looking for candidates with relevant experience, so make sure you have some under your belt! If you are able to, study abroad! In every job interview I’ve ever done, the potential employer has asked me about my experience doing a study abroad internship in London, England. Studying abroad is a great way to gain life experiences, diversify your resume and stand out from other candidates.
National Stylist Team, Trunk Club
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I am from St. Louis, Missouri, and majored in journalism/strategic communication and minored in business. I was originally in the business school with the intention to be a marketing major, so I took a few marketing classes in addition to my journalism studies to round out my marketing interests. I was a marketing intern for Allied Global Services in Lenexa for about a year and a half, starting my spring semester junior year and working there until I graduated. I intended to enter the marketing industry post-grad but realized that I missed the retail industry. I worked for Nordstrom as a seasonal sales associate for two years prior to my internship with Allied, so I am really excited to work for the company again. I have been visiting Chicago ever since I was a little girl, so this opportunity is a great fit. In addition to working for Trunk Club, I hope to do some freelance creative marketing. I am also helping my mom with her new business venture by handling the marketing and graphic design elements.
How did you get your current job? I originally came across Trunk Club at the J-School Career Fair when I was a sophomore, I believe. I planned on applying for a summer internship at the Chicago headquarters but ended up getting an internship back home in St. Louis instead and never got the chance to apply. I did most of my post-grad job search on LinkedIn, which is where I saw the posting for the position in Chicago. They were kind enough to offer a video chat interview, so I didn’t have to travel to Chicago. After they offered me the position, I went to Chicago to check out the space, and I loved it so I accepted!
What is your favorite J-School memory? My favorite memory is taking Campaigns with Dr. Chen. I had an incredible experience with this class and owe a lot to my fantastic team and professor. I was creative director for our agency, which allowed me to grow as a graphic designer. My team became extremely close with each other and Dr. Chen, creating a both personal and professional experience. Even though the class is intimidating, having the right professor can truly make or break your experience and I 250% recommend taking it with Dr. Chen if you get the privilege.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Being a strategic communication major, so many doors are opened for you. My advice would be to keep an open mind to things you aren’t familiar with or may not necessarily enjoy and take advantage of everything you can achieve with this degree. At first, I did not enjoy graphic design and had very little interest in managing social media accounts from a business perspective. My marketing internship ended up being mostly those two things, and now I love them. I used to struggle with InDesign, and now it’s almost therapeutic for me, so it’s funny how things work out sometimes.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The J-School taught me so many basic skills that allowed me to pick what I wanted to grow on. I learned to never underestimate myself or my abilities. The J-School has played a crucial role in helping me to figure out who I am, what I am good at, and what I can make a career out of.
Customer Success Coordinator, ShopperTrak
Biography: I'm from Geneva, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and grew up with a passion for storytelling. I graduated with a strategic communications degree, business minor, and Certificate of Professional Selling. During my time at KU, I was a member of Greek Life, competed in various professional selling competitions, and worked at the KU Endowment Association and Journalism School.
How did you get your current job? I was an Engagement Services intern at ShopperTrak the summer after my sophomore and junior year and was offered a full-time position on the newly re-branded Customer Success team the last day of my internship.
What is your favorite J-School memory? My last semester I took Campaigns with Professor David Johnston and Social Media in Strategic Communication with Dr. Hyunjin Seo. Both classes partnered with a client to deliver a strategic campaign, an incredibly challenging and rewarding task. A semester of late nights and early mornings turned into campaigns I was so proud to present. The time spent with my two groups are memories I'll never forget!
What advice would you give to journalism students? Find mentors in your professors, advisers, managers, co-workers, and friends! The Journalism School is full of bright leaders that want to see you excel. Grow with your classmates and build your network early. Produce content you believe in. Seek truth and report it.
Editorial Assistant, Mansueto Ventures (Inc. and Fast Company)
Graduation year: May 2018
Biography: I graduated with degrees in journalism and English. At its core, my love for writing comes from interviewing interesting people, conducting research and writing material that teaches others as much as it teaches myself. I used that passion to work with the women’s long -orm publication The Riveter magazine while I was a student. I went from a contributing writer as a freshman to the digital editor of the magazine as a senior, and I also landed bylines at Inc. magazine, Shine Text and Clover Letter by the time I graduated. When I’m not writing, I enjoy flexing my barista background by pulling the perfect espresso shot for myself in the morning, biking around trails in my neighborhood or planning for my next trip abroad. I pushed my limits by climbing the Thórsmörk mountain range last summer in Iceland, and it’s been one of my biggest accomplishments yet.
How did you get your current job? J-School Associate Professor Carol Holstead encouraged me to apply for the 2017 American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) internship in New York City, and I ended up applying and being accepted to spend the summer after my junior year as an intern at Inc. magazine in New York City. That internship gave me valuable connections whom I reached out to after I graduated. When an entry-level position opened up at the magazine, my colleagues reached out to me directly to apply for it. To my delight, I was offered the job.
What do you like best about your job? My job is with Mansueto Ventures, which owns business publications Inc. and Fast Company. I’m an editorial assistant, so my job is to assist executive management and senior editors in a variety of administrative tasks within the office. The best part? I still get opportunities to do reporting, write my own stories, and tackle other editorial projects as well.
How did the J-School prepare you for the workforce? The J-School gave me the confidence to establish authority as a writer and taught me important skills that set me apart from other recent graduates. The professors within the school always believed in me, and their advice served me well outside of school. As a student, there is nothing more valuable than having successful mentors who push you to do your best.
What career advice do you have for journalism students? Be curious, ask lots of questions and stay informed on what’s happening in the world around you. It’s also important to join student organizations, work off-campus jobs or find other ways to do work in your desired field. Once you do get involved, be sure to be friendly, helpful and a joy to work with to those around you. In the end, it is your network and your connections that you make during your time as a student that will help you land that first job after school. Good luck!
Morning News Producer, KSNT News
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I was born and raised in Dodge City, Kansas, and lived there until 2006. Then I moved a few miles east to the tiny town of Ford. Since Ford is too small to have a school, I went to Bucklin, where I graduated high school in 2012 with a class of 15 people. I had taken a few tours of KU and knew that's where I wanted to go. My senior year of high school, I got offered a dance and cheer scholarship at Dodge City Community College, so I decided to go a year there and get some gen eds out of the way. I ended up staying another year and got my associate of general studies degree. That final year was when I decided I wanted to be in journalism. In 2014, I finally made my way to KU, and the rest is history.
How did you get your current job? I started as an intern January 2017. When my internship was up, I told my news director I was interested in working for KSNT in Topeka, Kansas. Later that summer, I was offered the position of part-time breaking news producer. I updated the website, went to breaking news scenes, and provided VOSOTs to the evening and weekend newscasts. In March, I moved to full time. In June, I moved to the position of morning news producer.
What is your favorite J-School memory? All of the opportunities I've gotten. I've worked with Fox Sports, Time Warner Sports (now Spectrum). I was a reporter a couple times for the Bill Self Fantasy Camp. I've gotten to anchor both sports and news for KUJH, as well as write for the Kansan. I also worked at KJHK for a semester. The opportunities the J-School gave me were endless.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Don't slack off and think you can still pass. I had a low GPA and was actually out of the J-School for a short time. While I couldn't take any journalism classes until I brought my GPA up, I was still heavily involved. Another piece of advice is to try everything and be as involved as you can. The most important advice, however...have fun! Don't stress yourself out. You're only this young once, and you go to the greatest university out there. Enjoy it.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I was given so many opportunities at KU and worked side by side with professionals. I got a lot of "real world" experience while still in school. Most professors genuinely care about you and want to help/see you succeed. The spring 2018 visiting professor, Dr. Janice Collins, helped me look over my contract at KSNT before I signed it. She explained things I didn't understand and encouraged me to be confident when negotiating parts of the contract.
Social Media Manager, Gossip Genie
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: Shelby is a J-School graduate now currently working and living in Chicago, Illinois. She was born and raised in Pawnee City, Nebraska and selected the University of Kansas as her college of choice as a freshman in high school. Shelby developed a passion for journalism at a young age but did not know it was her career path until after her first semester at KU. After enrolling in a first-year seminar in the J-School, Shelby immediately switched her major to journalism with a strategic communication emphasis and never looked back. Living in the heart of downtown Chicago, Shelby spends many hours managing a variety of social media accounts and running her own beauty and lifestyle blog.
How did you get your current job? I found my current job through a Facebook group for young college graduates looking for jobs in digital media. I knew that I wanted to work in digital media in a large metropolitan city, so I only applied for certain jobs in select cities. This made my job search more difficult, but so much more rewarding in the long run. Never settle when it comes to your career. I went through a few rounds of interviews and was ultimately hired on the spot. Walking down the hill on graduation, I had no idea what job I was going to land. It was an amazing feeling landing my first job out of college.
What is your favorite J-School memory? My favorite J-School memory would have to be taking Strategic Campaigns with Professor David Johnston. You hear a lot about how campaigns is going to be a very difficult and stressful class; however, Professor Johnston did a great job at making it fun. We had a great client that semester and got to do a lot of interesting research surrounding college football. I loved my team and we had such a great time putting together our campaign. Presenting our final campaign was an amazing feeling, but the in-between moments are what made the class so great.
How did the J-School prepare you for the workforce? The J-School taught me that working in a journalism career field is anything but easy, but so worth it. Working in journalism is tough, but the J-School makes sure every student has everything they need to be successful in their future careers. I learned everything from writing, designing, marketing, production, you name it. There is so much variety in our coursework that I am able to use what I have learned every day.
What career advice do you have for journalism students? Build relationships with your professors! This is something that I learned very early on as a student in the J-School and I’m so glad that I did. Attend office hours, ask questions before and after class, and don’t be afraid to raise your hand. I was always the quiet one in class, so I understand how daunting it can be, but you won’t regret it. The professors in the J-School want to see you succeed and will help steer you in the direction of your post-college career. You never know when you’re going to need a letter of recommendation or a new door opened.
Account Executive, Octagon
Graduation year: 2017
Biography: I'm from St. Joseph, Missouri, but I was raised a Jayhawk. When it came to choosing a college, the University of Kansas was my first choice. Being from Missouri, I received some grief for this, but it was easily the best decision I could have made. At KU, I was involved at the St. Lawrence Center and with SUA. I also interned with the School of Business, Kansas Athletics, the Kansas City Sports Commission and FC Kansas City. I loved having the opportunity to apply the skills I was learning in the classroom to practical experiences, and I loved working with and learning from so many great people.
How did you get your current job? Throughout college, I held a variety of marketing/communications internships, and a few were within the sports industry. Octagon is a sports and entertainment agency, so my different experiences helped me to build a skillset that was a good match for this position. Steve Rottinghaus at the Career Center and Dan McCarthy, my advisor, were also great resources throughout my job search.
What is your favorite J-School memory? My favorite J-School memory would have to be Campaigns. It was really rewarding to have a chance to use everything that we had learned in all of our classes over the years and see it come together into an impressive final product. I met new people and learned a lot about working as a team. It was a truly great feeling to present our ideas to the client and showcase what we had accomplished.
What advice would you give to journalism students? My advice to current students would be to try to figure out what you're passionate about and find ways to learn more about it or gain experience within that. I love sports, so interning within that industry taught me more about it and prepared me to pursue a career in this after college.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The variety within our coursework was great. There are elements of different classes that I use daily in my job. I think the J-School does a great job in helping us to be well-rounded individuals that can contribute in many ways to an organization.
Community Programs Coordinator, Sporting Kansas City
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas — once a Jayhawk always a Jayhawk. I graduated from the University of Kansas with bachelor's degress in journalism/strategic communication with a minor in business. Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, volunteering and being outdoors. I am passionate about helping others and caring for the people in my life.
How did you get your current job? I started as an intern for Sporting Kansas City, and my entire senior year I was part-time commuting to Kansas City. I accepted the full-time position after graduation.
What is your favorite J-School memory? My favorite J-School memory is being able to go outside on campus and study or sit there and enjoy being a student (it goes by fast!).
What advice would you give to journalism students? My advice to J-School students is not to rush anything or take things too seriously. College goes by so quick, and the second it is over you want to go back! I had a lot of success balancing my internship and job with fun, and that was very important.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? The internship course that I took at KU was the most beneficial course I took. I learned what it took to work in the workforce and prepared myself for what comes next. I highly recommend taking this course with an internship.
Multimedia Journalist, KMTV
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I started working in studios and production sets at age 16 in high school for Niles Media Group. They pointed me in the direction of KUJH once I got to KU. That's where I started reporting on news and sports while hosting specials like the 2016 election and traveling to events like the NCAA Tournament.
How did you get your current job? I started working at KUJH on campus as a freshman and connected with folks at KSNT in Topeka over time. KSNT brought me on my junior year, where I worked both full time and part time covering news and sports until graduation. I wanted to see what other opportunities were out there after graduating, and the position in Omaha opened up at KMTV.
The J-School has allowed me to travel to multiple NCAA Tournaments for KU basketball (and Bill Self has led KU there year after year, so I have him to thank, too). Also, teachers like Cal Butcher helped me gain real-world experience by working for FOX Sports for Kansas City Chiefs games. It's the real-world experience that helped me stand out in the eyes of KMTV.
When I asked my boss why I stood out to him, he said it was the experience that compares to those who graduate from Missouri or Syracuse. That's one of the highest compliments I've ever received.
What is your favorite J-School memory? The camaraderie built with classmates and professors at KUJH and the J-School. I'm seeing friends who are working at places they dreamed of thanks to the efforts the J-School gives its students. I think the J-School cares so much for its students.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Take advantage of the opportunities the J-School is providing you! You can only learn so much in the classroom. The experience and knowledge you gain put you ahead of the competition.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? I've learned how to write concisely and effectively, shoot compelling video, tell engaging stories, communicate efficiently while being personable and professional. Teachers like Chris Bacon, Max Utsler, Chad Curtis, Kerry Benson, and Cal Butcher have taught me how fun this field can be and how the world needs journalists.
Interactive Marketing Specialist, Capitol Federal Bank
Graduation year: 2018
Biography: I am originally from Wichita, Kansas, and I came to KU with the intention of being an accounting major. Then after a few course accounting courses, I started looking into the J-School. After JOUR 101, I was sold. I knew the J-School would be a great fit for me. In May 2018, I graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and my emphasis was in strategic communication. During my last semester, I was offered a position at Capitol Federal Bank as an interactive marketing specialist. In January, I will begin working on my master's degree in mass communications.
How did you get your current job? In January of 2018, I started at Capitol Federal as a marketing intern, then in February, I was offered a full-time position once I graduated.
What is your favorite J-School memory? Hands down my favorite J-School memory would be the summer class I took with Kerry Benson. She was a firecracker from start to finish of the course. She also pushed her students to reach their full potential. Another J-School memory would be studying aboard. I did the Creativity and Culture in Rome last summer, and it was a life-changing experience.
What advice would you give to journalism students? Utilize all the resources at your fingertips. Sign up for those Adobe sessions with Heather Lawrenz and anything else that is offered. Having those skills puts you ahead of those who don't have those skills.
How has the J-School prepared you for the workforce? A few of the most impactful courses I took in the J-School were J304: Media Writing and J560: Message Development. They helped me improve my writing skills and also how to produce creative, well-established content.