In the Spotlight
Colin Ackerman ('11)
Mass Communication major, Film Studies minor
- His first job out of college was a kindergarten teacher in Nashville through Teach for America.
- Now he is a full-time graduate student at University of Colorado in Boulder pursuing a Ph. D. in Media Studies.
"My experience as a UA in Dr. Becker's class has contributed to my current success as a teaching assistant and instructor at my current university. The teaching skills and facilitation strategies I learned as a UA have been invaluable for my current work.”
"Set yourself specific goals, but always be open to new experiences and opportunities you may not have thought of. I worked very hard as a teacher and thought I would stay in education as my career, but in seeing the ways in which my students interacted with and consumed media, I wanted to learn more. Had I not been open to new things, I may not have found my true passion of media research."
Alexis Ascher ('14)
Mass Communication major
- After graduation, she traveled to Europe. Then, she moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
- She is now a post production assistant on the show, “The Strain,” which is on FX.
“I got this job through a chain of people. I was introduced to a soap actress who has been in the industry a long time and we became friends. I explained to her what my interests were and she knew the post coordinator on “The Strain” who happened to be looking for an assistant on the show. I did a trial week with them and then secured it as a full-time position!”
“I definitely took a lot from each course and teacher. Kathy Conkwright really pushed me to become the best version of myself as a person and professionally. She taught me so much about everything in this industry. I would say my favorite classes didn't come from a level of easiness, but a connection to the material. I really enjoyed FST 205 because you get to argue and debate movies and see other perspectives. I think (MAC) 146 can teach you a lot if you are interested in movies — it is where I learned all the basics like camera angles, lighting, sound, etc.! Lastly, (MAC) 414 is such a well-rounded experience…These classes are the ones that I felt were valuable to me.”
“Don’t take calculus…ever! And, your network is more important than your GPA.”
Darren Bailey ('07)
- He moved to Los Angeles and started working as a background extra in television, but stopped once real work came along.
- He has several jobs now, as many artists do in Hollywood — actor, stuntman, and fight choreographer, but also a regular job as an operations supervisor at a major visual effects studio.
“As a Theatre major, I honed my acting skills, movement, voice, playwriting, and directing, which has led to some great personal successes and opportunities in Hollywood. More than anything, I leaned how to manage my time. In addition to Theatre, I was also in the Glee Club, Cheezies, M.A.F.I.A., and held a part-time job. That's helped me understand how many things I'm able to juggle at once. In L.A., many projects become available at the same time, and being able to confidently say yes to as many as you can is a great skill to have.”
“Do something when you're doing nothing. It's OK to have lazy days from time to time, but only if you've earned them. Using every opportunity to be creative, whether it be writing, scheduling a lunch meeting to develop a project, studying your craft. [It] will make a world of difference later on. Start networking now.”
Chris Barger ('14)
Creative Writing major, Theatre minor
- He went back home to cutting grass, then reached out to Dave Kajganich (a screenwriter he met through Miami) and asked if he knew of any assistant jobs. He spent several months working for Dave over Dropbox as a researcher to help with his adaptation of a nonfiction book into a film.
- In April 2015, he was hired as a freelance coverage reader for Imperative Entertainment and continued to work over email until he saved up enough money to move to LA.
- After moving, he was hired as the assistant to a television writers’ room for the AMC Network series “Goliath.”
- Now, he works as the receptionist and administration assistant at Gaumont Television.
“As a creative writing major, the most valuable things I learned in my major classes were how to discipline myself to write and work on my own material every day, and how to take and build upon criticism. Anyone interested in having a career in the arts needs the discipline to practice everyday, as well as take feedback from anyone willing to provide it.”
“If I could give a piece of advice to my college-age self it would be to never stop thinking outside the box. As long as you’re equal parts passionate, realistic and disciplined the sky’s the limit. One of the most paradoxically challenging and rewarding aspects of working in film and television is that there truly is no one path to success.”
Sarah Brumett ('15)
Mass Communication major
- After graduation, she immediately hopped in a car and drove to L.A. with no job set up and no place to live with the intention of getting a job in the entertainment industry.
- Her current position is production coordinator/unit production manager at Shadow Machine for a show called “Greatest Party Story Ever.”
“I was led to this job, like many in the industry, by being in the right place at the right time. I was working for a company that I found on entertainmentcareers.net that was housed in the same building as Shadow Machine. I first got hired on as a receptionist, so I met several producers from Shadow Machine as they walked in and out of the building. Eventually, I got promoted from the receptionist position and quickly realized I did not want to work for that company, so once I had a little experience under my belt, I sent my resume to one of the Shadow Machine producers and they hired me on the spot.”
“Although I found most of my major courses to be generally helpful to be a well-rounded, educated adult, the most helpful class was the Media Production Capstone, hands down. The skills I use daily at work came from what I learned in this class, if anyone wants to work on set ever, this class is absolutely essential, plus some. This class should have been a full year rather than a semester or there should have been more classes like it.”
“Take more production classes, even if they aren't necessary for your degree. If classes aren't available, teach yourself — use the resources that the school has while you have them (e.g. equipment, software, etc.). When it comes to practical skills, I find myself very behind the curve.”
Bethany Bruner ('12)
Journalism, History major
- She was a 40-hour/week intern at The Springfield News-Sun for six weeks. Then she interviewed and was offered the night general assignment reporter job at The Newark Advocate in Newark, Ohio.
- Now her official title is “breaking news reporter,” but she prefers to call it the crime/courts beat — her typical day consists of looking at police reports, court documents, covering trials/plea hearings and sentencing, and going to breaking news (fires, crashes, homicides).
“A lot of the best experience you can get in journalism is learned on the job. I learned a lot working for The Miami Student as a reporter and editor and as an intern in Springfield. I also learned a lot working on the job in Newark. You can’t replicate how to cover breaking news in a classroom setting because you don’t have to think on your feet in the same way.”
“The other experience that really sticks out for me was in my Journalism 201 class. Annie Blair walked in the first day, put a bulleted list of facts on the overhead and gave us 10 minutes to write a story. It was terrifying. We did it again on the last day of class. The difference was amazing. And it was the most realistic experience I had to how it works in a newsroom. I was asked to do something very similar in my job interview and having done it before made me feel at ease and confident. You have to work quickly and efficiently AND be accurate. Every journalism student should do an exercise like this.”
Scarlett Chen ('13)
- She went to University of Southern California for a journalism master's degree.
- She is a sales coordinator at Sterling Publishing in NYC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble.
“I have always wanted to live in NYC. So I moved here right after I graduated from USC. Working in publishing came as a surprise. It is hard to find a job in journalism (as you may have heard), especially when English is my second language. That's when I started to look for jobs outside of journalism, but still under communication. At first I wasn't sure if I would like working in sales in publishing because I wanted to be a reporter. Now I have been at my job for almost a year. I really enjoy it and realize I am using my journalism skills everyday.”
“Working in publishing, in a way, is similar to working in journalism. Each book category is like a beat in journalism. I need to pitch the right books to the right market. It is also important to have good storytelling skills. When I am introducing books to my customers, I always use a human-interest angle to hook them in. So…I think all core courses that I took in journalism and communication helped me greatly…I also enjoyed my internship at the Oxford Press.”
“Get out of your comfort zone, follow your heart, be open-minded and be persistent. I believe passion is the drive to succeed. I highly recommend undergraduates to take advantages of Miami, taking different classes, applying internships and studying aboard. The more you experience, the clearer you know what you want to do. It is also important to ask for help if needed. And don't panic. Things will all work out.”
Jeff Conroy ('94)
Communications, Theatre major
- He went home and took an old job in the pool management and maintenance business for the summer. He drove out to L.A. with his summer savings.
- His first entertainment job was as a runner on the TV show “EXTRA.”
- He was president and executive producer for Original Productions — which made unscripted shows for networks like Discovery Channel, History Channel, A&E, National Geographic.
- He just co-founded a content creation company — where he creates and sells TV shows, mostly the unscripted genre — and now he’s creating a series for many digital platforms.
“I worked my way up and built on a bunch of little successes…I invested heavily in my relationships with my co-workers by being a good partner, mentor, colleague, and decent person to have a beer with.”
“Gather up those diverse experiences, they will all play a part in your success someday.”
Rebecca Daugherty ('80)
- She worked at a TV station in Philadelphia in the business office as an assistant.
- Now she’s the VP of Entertainment Marketing at ABC Television Network.
“I continued to work in production/promotion/marketing in several markets (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Chicago) before moving to L.A. I tried to make sure each career move was a step up, getting me closer to my ultimate goals. I worked hard and always let higher ups know what my ultimate goals and aspirations were. I always volunteered for more work.”
“Learning to write really well will benefit you. Knowing how to communicate well and get your ideas across in an effective manor is everything. I had a course where we did a short film and I found that helpful. Also a broadcast communications class.”
“Try to get an internship in New York or L.A. in the industry every summer. Establish as many connections as possible and keep in touch with them. Consider any internship an audition for the real job and pour all your passion into it. Never say, “I don’t know” unless you follow it up with ‘…but I’ll find out.’”
Courtney Day ('12)
Journalism major (Communication and English rhetoric/writing minors)
- She was a paid summer intern in the features department at The Columbus Dispatch.
- She was an education and general assignment reporter at the Ashland Times-Gazette in Ashland, Ohio for nearly three years.
- She joined the Mansfield News Journal as a night shift breaking news reporter in June 2015.
- In May 2016, she transitioned to an education and life reporter.
“Probably the most valuable courses I had were narrative non-fiction with Dr. (James)Tobin and public affairs reporting with Dr. (Stephen) Siff. Narrative non-fiction helped me in my storytelling, and public affairs reporting taught me how to find and use public records and how to use Excel to do data-driven reporting. Media Law and Ethics was also a great class to take, giving me a foundation that helps me whenever I make record requests or write about sensitive topics. Aside from courses, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing journalism outside of class. For me, this meant working on the staff of The Miami Student newspaper and having internships in both communication and journalism.”
“Now is the time to try new things and to take some risks in your reporting and writing. Blog, take pictures, shoot and edit some videos, write a column, do hard news and features, short and long-form pieces. Your career is likely to include more variety than you ever imagined, and the more experience you gain the better off you’ll be. Never do an email interview if a phone interview is possible, and always go in person if you can. Never forget every single source you write about is a real person.”
Stacey Goers ('08)
Journalism major, International Studies major, German minor
- She returned home for the summer to spend time with family, work at Caribou Coffee and freelance for her community newspaper.
- She started at CQ Roll Call (then known as Congressional Quarterly) that September.
- She was a project manager at CQ Roll Call for her state legislative and regulatory tracking tool, StateTrack — this means that she was the lead coordinator on her agile development processes, making sure the software development stayed on schedule.
- In 2016, she became the product manager of podcasts and social at NPR.
“I was editor of The Miami Student, which not only was my main journalistic bootcamp but also taught me how to manage a team and work with varying personalities. Each person thrives in a slightly different work environment and figuring out the magic formula for a team is my daily goal. I would also be foolish if I didn't mention my JRN101 course, which was taught by Dr. (Richard) Campbell and inspired me to switch to journalism as a major and develop a passion for furthering the truth and enabling citizens to be more engaged and better informed.”
“Never underestimate how valuable the relationships you form at Miami will be in the years to come. I have relied on many people I only barely knew at Miami for numerous things here in D.C., both on a professional and personal level. Additionally, I would tell myself to continue to relish in the German classes, the history classes — the things that were out of the main steps of my major. It's being a well-rounded, intelligent person (the true core of a liberal arts education) that makes you an interesting human being — and yes, a better job applicant and employee.”
Olivia Harrison ('15)
Mass Communication, American Studies major
- She took an internship at BUST Magazine writing for their blog.
- She is currently working as a contributing writer at Refinery29 — mostly write breaking news stories for the Living section of the website, a category that includes Food, Home, Tech, Work and Money, Travel, and Wedding.
“It took almost exactly one year for me to find a full-time writing job. I worked as an editorial intern at BUST, mental floss, and Heritage Radio Network throughout my first year in New York City. For each of these outlets, I wrote content for their websites and blogs, and I gained a lot of hands-on experience. I had a contact at Refinery29, and she told me about the open writing position. As my final internship with Heritage Radio was winding down, I applied, interviewed, and got the job.”
“As my areas of concentration were media criticism and pop culture studies, I learn how to think critically and examine pieces of pop culture and media, such as television shows, movies, and even celebrity gossip. Now, I directly apply those skills at work because I write for outlets where entertainment and pop culture are important topics. I also took a few introductory media production classes as part of the Mass Comm. major requirements and although I only learned basic production and media editing skills, I have been able to utilize them as I’ve helped with podcasts and other multimedia pieces for my various jobs.”
“I tell everyone, that if they can, they should take an internship in the field they think they might be interested in. It is the best way to dip your toes in and gain hands-on experience. If after your internship is over, you decide that field isn’t right for you, don’t get discouraged. Finding out what you don’t want to do is a valuable piece of the puzzle. I would also tell myself that finding work is a process. My first year in New York City was very difficult and finding a full-time job took an entire year. But every single thing I did along the way led me to getting hired at Refinery29, a company I really respect and enjoy working for.”
Emily Lause ('11)
Mass Communication major, Marketing minor
- She moved to Los Angeles after being chosen to join the NBC Page Program (West Coast addition).
- Now she is the manager of marketing partnerships at Universal Pictures.
“I got this current job because of the Page Program actually, since NBC and Universal are both part of Comcast. While being a Page, I was assisting the President of Marketing and Publicity at Focus Features, and was fortunate to meet my current boss (in Marketing Partnerships) at a film screening that was produced by Focus and Universal. I then became her assistant, and have been fortunate to grow within the team.”
“Any classes that allowed me to follow my passion, because it showed me that if you love what you're doing, you don't mind being at Williams Hall until 1 a.m. building a Final Cut commercial, movie, etc., or working on a strategy brief. Also, learning how to stand out with a good attitude was very key to succeed in class, which is something that has helped me grow here in Los Angeles. Another huge benefit was having professors who guided us and let us be as creative as we wanted to be.”
“Work hard and be nice to people. It's a common phrase, but it really works!”
Becca Lyle ('13)
Mass Communication major, Marketing minor
- Initially, she moved home and worked in a restaurant part-time and as a media assistant at an advertising agency in Louisville, while waiting to hear if she’d been accepted into the NBC Page Program.
- She was accepted as an NBC page and worked in Marketing Partnerships at Paramount.
- She is currently an assistant at a talent management company, working for two managers who represent actors.
“Our job entails many different areas, but mostly focused on servicing the client in whatever way they need i.e. finding jobs, giving advice, reading scripts, setting meetings, managing their schedule, etc. I found this job through a personal connection who knew I was looking for a job in talent management; I was referred, interviewed and landed the job.”
“Generally, a sense of the media and how it functions as a whole I have found wildly helpful. The base knowledge of networks and the history of television has been very helpful. My job consists of using your gut instinct and problem solving. I think the type of education I received and the structure of the classes at Miami gave me the confidence to trust my own judgment and opinions. I am constantly learning and evolving, there is not always a right answer in this job. I appreciate that in many of my media classes at Miami my professors had that same viewpoint.”
“It will all work out, don't be so stressed. As long as you work hard and believe in yourself, you will succeed. You may not get the job you thought you wanted, but you will eventually end up where you're supposed to be. Trust it when someone tells you you’re good at something, even if that means you’re good at talking to people, find a way to use that in your job and you'll shine.”
J.D. Malone ('98)
Journalism, Operations Management major
- He first went to work for Motorola in 1998, then Honda in various supply chain management roles.
- He quit Honda in 2004 to go back to school for journalism.
- After graduation in 2006, he was a writing fellow at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and landed his first full-time job in journalism at a small newspaper in eastern Pennsylvania.
- Now he is a staff writer at The Columbus Dispatch covering food and agriculture on the business desk.
“I got here after spending eight years at two different papers in Pennsylvania covering a wide variety of things, from school districts to cops and courts to city hall.”
“The narrative non-fiction course I took with Dr. (James) Tobin set a lot of the bones that define my writing. I have won two national awards for narrative and explanatory writing.”
“I would have told my younger self to give up adverbs earlier, just quit them cold turkey.”
Laura Melillo ('87)
Mass Communication major
- She worked for a TV station as an intern.
- She is recently retired as Executive Director of the Yum! Brands Foundation and VP of Global Community Investment.
“All of my media experiences I tap into daily. Laws Hall was EXTREMELY helpful in gaining real-world experience as well.”
“Practical experience counts. Go work at the radio/TV station if that’s your goal. Go intern in PR or marketing. Get as much practical experience in a broad range of areas. The broader the better!”
Gina Messeri ('14)
Mass Communication major, Marketing minor
- She moved to Los Angeles and got a job at Syco Entertainment/Sony Music.
- She is currently working at Syco Entertainment/Sony Music as a media assistant. She works across all of their projects from a public relations stand point, as well as doing personal PR for Simon Cowell (X Factor).
“I was fortunate that I got this job interview through a connection in Sony Music, and then luckily got the job after my interview!”
“I think that my major courses really helped me learn how to balance a lot of different things at once and prioritizing deadlines. Also a lot of my media classes have helped when needing to understand the media landscape and the role each part of media plays, especially Intro to Mass Communications!”
“I think that the one piece advice I would give my undergrad-self would be to get more involved in organizations that let me explore the communications department more and just have fun with it!”
Christopher Molnar ('04)
Mass Communication major, Management (Organizational Behavior) minor
- Immediately after graduation he began working at Optasia Productions in Cincinnati as a freelance assistant editor, while also helping out on the location shoots.
- Currently, he is a producer on the CBS television show “NCIS: Lps Angeles,” in charge of overseeing the visual effects, color correction, titling, and formatting. He began as the post production assistant on the original NCIS, moved up to post production coordinator, which he did for three seasons. Once “NCIS:LA “was picked up by CBS, he moved over to that show as post production supervisor.
“The two biggest courses at Miami that I found most valuable were the Laws, Hall & Associates program, along with the classes that allowed me to work in the TV studio. I found that hands on experiences were the best way for me to learn and to fully comprehend the theory that was discussed in classes. Plus you get to have ‘real world’ experiences prior to being thrust out into the wild. Specifically, with LH&A, my role on the team was the director. Having to have to put together a 30-second spot directly relates to what I’m doing today on ‘NCIS:LA.’”
“Advice I would give my younger self would to be make even more projects on your own. Get experience with making web videos and take your time doing them. Don’t rush something out there to just say you made something. Make the best product you can, while learning from your experience.”
Kellyn Moran ('09)
Journalism, Political Science major
- She became a Teach for America corps member — teaching beyond the 2-year commitment.
- She also completed her master's degree in education (Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction) at George Mason University.
- She now works for an edtech/ed publishing company that is focused on resources for teachers in early childhood education. She started on their implementation team (like a high tier of customer and tech support), then moved to operations and got certified as a project manager last year.
“One of the courses I took my senior year required me to get data from a local office (I believe I used housing/property value data from Butler County, since it was around the time of the 2008 real estate bubble) — the experience from that class and my Stats/Journalism combined class only furthered my love of data and ability to summarize a lot of raw data into bite-size and relevant information. I still use this ability to collect and analyze data daily in my summaries of project statuses, updates to leadership of our company, creation of business cases for new projects, and evaluations for vendor selection ... just to name a few ways that skill transfers.”
“My experience working for The Miami Student was invaluable and the skills were all extremely transferable in business and in life — from getting the courage to do my first interview for a story, where I was one of three people at Balcony for a Mission Man concert and everyone wondered why I had a notebook at a bar; to maneuvering the politics of getting meaningful information out of leadership…; to learning the sensitivity and care for detail that comes with reporting on the unexpected death of fellow students. As editor-in-chief, I learned the importance of owning every element of the final product and the process to create it, including how to support, grow, and trust a staff of editors and reporters — and when to look closer at the copy myself to make sure it was representative of a collective voice and worthy of respect as a student publication. I had doors slammed in my face, a 7 a.m. call from Miami Chief of Police, and an entire forum on discrimination — if those aren't growing experiences for a young professional in any role, I'm not sure what is.”
“I would have told myself to not get so lost in the details - to trust others to do that work and step back to look at the bigger picture and find the bigger stories/trends.”
Mallory Morehead ('11)
Mass Communication major
- She moved to Los Angeles and volunteered for a non-profit where she helped plan their fundraising events. She also worked as a production assistant on set for various projects.
- She is currently a press manager for NBC. She is the network publicist on multiple network shows including “America's Got Talent,“ “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge,” “The Good Place,” and “Days of our Lives.”
“I would have not stressed out so much about trying to figure everything out. I definitely would stress that you need to work hard and put your best self forward, but worrying about the outcome never helped me get anywhere.”
“The senior capstone was helpful because it helped me get on set and learn how they operate. I also enjoyed the media criticism class because it really helped me watch things from a critical perspective and not just for entertainment.”
Richie Owens ('95)
Mass Communication major
- He moved to Los Angeles after graduation.
- He worked for a commercial production company when he first moved and the segued to TV post production.
- He is a Producer on the TV show NCIS — managing budgets, working with vfx artists, editors, colorists, composers, sound mixers on the look and sound of the show.
“The hands-on production classes where we wrote, produced and edited our own projects.”
“Watch everything — TV, Vimeo, Movies. There is so much great content being made. Then, go make something yourself!”
Jeff Pegues ('92)
Mass Communication, Broadcast Journalism major
- He was hired to work as a television reporter in Rockford, Illinois.
- He worked in local news for about 22 years as a reporter and anchor, his last job for WABC-TV in New York City where he often covered the day's lead story as one of the city's top reporters for a decade.
- He is currently the Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent for CBS News.
“Learning the technical aspects of being a television reporter helped a great deal, as did working for MUTV.”
“I would encourage anyone interested in broadcast journalism to get as many internships as possible. Then while you're interning make contacts and stay in touch with those contacts.”
Lauren Pulte ('09)
Journalism, Political Science major
- She moved to Washington, D.C. immediately following graduation without a job. She had participated in Miami's Inside Washington program the summer before and that experience solidified that D.C. was where she wanted to begin.
- After a few months of interviewing and networking with the contacts she had made during the IW program, she was hired in part-time jobs by a local TV station, a small non-profit, and C-SPAN. She juggled the three jobs for a few months, working seven days a week.
- In September of 2009, she was hired full-time by C-SPAN as a producer.
- In 2015, she decided it was time to move back to the Midwest and was fortunate enough to be hired by The Onion, where she worked as PR and communications manager. She managed all internal and external communications for Onion, Inc., as well as promoted the business and its various properties including The Onion, ClickHole, and The A.V. Club.
- In 2017, after two incredibly entertaining years at The Onion, she went back to her journalism roots and joined the outstanding team at the Chicago Tribune. As Corporate Communications Manager, she handles all internal and external communications for the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Media Group properties (Chicago Magazine, RedEye, etc.), as well as assists with corporate communications initiatives for tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing).
“A few small pieces of advice — Have a strong handshake. Always, ALWAYS, handwrite thank you notes. Don't be afraid to speak up. And never think that a job is below you. You have to start somewhere, and you never know where a position, no matter how menial, will take you.”
“My capstone class with Dr. (Howard) Kleiman was without a doubt the most valuable class I took at Miami. Despite multiple internships throughout college, it gave me a truly hands-on experience when it came to broadcast journalism. I was able to learn about all aspects of reporting and production. My capstone curriculum gave me the confidence I needed to tackle new responsibilities and professional challenges I faced when beginning my career.”
“One thing I've learned during my post-graduate experience is to never give up. It's difficult not be devastated every time you're turned down for a job. But someone once told me that the right job will find you. So whenever I faced rejection, I had to trust that that job was not the right one for me, and I continued my search. With persistence and a little bit of faith, I've always been able to find a job that I knew was right for me, and often better than I ever could have imagined.”
Kate Redinger ('15)
Mass Communication major, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies minor
- She moved to Los Angeles with her best friend from college, without a job. Through connections from Miami and an internship she had with a company the previous summer, she began working for the Hallmark Channel in July as a producer in the on-air promo department.
- She is still working as a writer/producer for Hallmark Channel. Her department, Creative Services, produces all of the promotional content for their movies and original series including trailers, behind-the-scenes content, web/social media content, etc. Her days typically consist of watching their programming and figuring out how to capture the story in 30-second & 20-second spots, cut using Adobe Premiere.
“I was a media criticism track major, which I honestly think is much more valuable than a specialized production degree. That degree at Miami gives you a lot of room to breathe, to discover and explore everything a liberal arts college has to offer, while still building a strong core track in your field. It includes some production courses as well as critical theory courses. This unique blend of course developed my skills in producing and consuming media, giving me the tools to create and analyze, filling the shoes of both the creator and the audience.”
“If I had the chance to do Miami over, I'd try to major in everything I possibly could. Media & Culture, Film Studies, Comparative Media Studies, etc. Take the Mass Media Criticism capstone AND the Production Capstone — write a 25 page paper analyzing a television show of your choosing AND produce a short film with your peers. Try it all, it will help you become a well-rounded creator of culture.”
“While the Miami connection does help you *get* the job, it's your skill and passion that will make sure you *keep* that job. In an industry full of young people with similar training and talent dying to write, produce, direct AND star-in the next ‘Breaking Bad,’ being young, scrappy & hungry (#Hamilton) for everything your field has to offer yields more success than raw talent alone. Be patient, be excited and be a sponge. Soak up as much as you can because it doesn't just happen over night.”
Morgan Riedl ('10)
Journalism, Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs major
- She joined Teach For America and moved to New Mexico, teaching English at Crownpoint High School on the Navajo Nation for five years.
- Currently, she is a graduate teaching assistant at Colorado State University — she teaches two sections of freshman composition while also completing her own coursework toward an MA in creative nonfiction.
“I loved every course I took at Miami. (To be fair, I like academia, and I like being a student, which is probably why I pursued education and returned to school.) The courses I liked best though were made valuable by the professors who taught them. In my journalism major my favorite professor was Professor (James) Tobin, who introduced me to literary journalism. After taking his introductory course in the subject, I signed up for his capstone in narrative nonfiction, and I was hooked. The work didn’t seem like work. This is not to say it was easy, it was just that I couldn’t believe I was getting credit for writing stories on matters about which I was passionate. Now in grad school, I still feel the same. It was that class and Professor Tobin’s advice and encouragement that gave me the confidence to pursue writing after college. I wouldn’t be in grad school now if I hadn’t taken his course.”
“I was (and continue to some degree to be) a perfectionist and worried about maintaining my GPA too much. I don’t regret doing that, but with the perspective I have now (having taught and being a grad student) I would have been able to relax a little and enjoy the learning experience more. Grades matter, obviously, for the scholarships and distinction they can earn you, but in the bigger picture learning and learning how to think matter way more. So my advice would be to have fun and find some way to make every paper or project relevant to something you care about.”
J.M. Rieger ('13)
Journalism, Political Science major, Marketing minor
- He interned at Roll Call over the summer right after graduation, which led to a full-time position as the video editor for the newspaper.
- He is a producer for The Huffington Post based in Washington, DC — responsible for researching, scripting, producing and editing videos focusing on politics and the 2016 campaign.
“There is a major shift at a lot of publications (and there has been for some time now) towards video. At Roll Call, I really cut my teeth on all things video and audio, from production to editing to live streaming and everything in between. I used skills I developed through classes, extracurriculars and internships at Miami and expanded upon those at Roll Call. I also learned a tremendous amount about Congress, which gave me a unique set of skills that I’ve been able to transfer into my new position with The Huffington Post.”
“My senior capstone with Dr. (Howard) Kleiman is one of the reasons I am where I am today. Along with Steve Beitzel, those two taught me so much about video and production. My JRN 101 class with Dr. (James) Tobin and my JRN 201 class with Annie-Laurie Blair helped set me up for the rest of my journalism career at Miami. And working with a number of other JRN faculty inside and outside the classroom had a tremendous impact on me—there are too many to name, but suffice to say I leaned heavily on the MJF faculty at Miami and I’ve leaned heavily on them since graduation. Outside of the MJF program, I learned a tremendous amount from my Political Science and Marketing classes, much of which I still use today.”
“Follow your interests/passions but never close doors. Immerse yourself in experiences and classes that will give you wide-ranging skill sets you can use in the real world. I cannot count the number of times I’ve used random tidbits I picked up in classes or extracurriculars in my position. I never would have thought I’d be where I am today when I graduated, but part of what got me where I am is the fact that I seldom turned down opportunities and always kept myself open to trying new things. That is especially important in today’s media landscape, where flexibility and adaptability are paramount.”
Ally Seibert ('12)
Journalism, Mass Communication major
- She moved out to Los Angeles for an unpaid internship.
- She is currently a writer on “Chicago Fire“ — responsible for creating the season long stories and writing episodes.
“I started as an assistant to an agent at CAA, a big talent agency. From there I worked my way onto various TV shows as a show runner's assistant before eventually getting hired as a writer. As an assistant I aided in the process of creating a television show, but now I actually get to create.”
“Having a journalism background has been extremely helpful even though I mainly write scripts and outlines now. Being able to write strong, concise sentences is a valuable asset that a lot of people don't possess. Something as simple as a well-written email can make a difference in the entertainment industry. I'm also glad I learned basic production/post-production skills even though I'm not directly involved — I feel like I have a better understanding of the entire process, rather than just one part.”
Sarah Sidlow ('13)
Journalism, Psychology major, American Music minor
- Immediately after graduation, she started writing as a freelancer for the Dayton City Paper, and became the editor-in-chief later that year.
- She is currently a content editor (intern) with the non-profit CommonLit, Inc., which provides a collection of poems, short stories, news articles, historical documents, and literature for teachers to use in classrooms, free of charge. She reads and edits selected texts, creates grade-appropriate vocabulary, text, and discussion questions, and suggests related media and text pairings.
- She is also a full-time freelance writer, editor, and proofreader for Dayton City Paper and Teacher's Discovery.
“Working for The Miami Student and studying abroad in Luxembourg were probably my two most valuable undergraduate experiences--both took me completely out of my comfort zone and applied some real-world responsibility. Once I started in the workforce, I had a number of experiences that drew on lessons I learned in Dr. (James) Tobin's narrative non-fiction capstone class and Patti Newberry's journalism ethics classes.”
“Be patient and don't stress about the J-word ("job")!”
Stephanie Spetrino ('14)
Mass Communication major, Business Management & Leadership minor
- She moved to L.A. two months after graduation to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
- She started as an office production assistant on “Pretty Little Liars.”
- She was promoted to work at Warner Brothers Studio in the Operations department — their role is to support all of the production shooting on the lot at any given time ranging from commercials and features to sitcoms and single camera shows.
- She is now a production assistant on Fox television series, "Lethal Weapon"
“Continue to build relationships as much as possible. The people in your network are vital to your success in the entertainment industry. Find good mentors, work hard, and prove yourself to people who can help you out and hire you for more experience. Trust is key – build it from the ground up, do everything to maintain it, and don’t ever let it go.”
“The Inside Hollywood program was the most valuable experience I had as an undergraduate to prepare me for a career in entertainment. My senior capstone in which we created our own production company and short film was also helpful in introducing me to production.”
Anna Turner ('11)
Journalism, Theatre major
- She was a writer/researcher on the TV show “1,000 Ways to Die.”
- Now she’s a story editor for “Total Divas“— she cuts episodes together building story lines and character arcs based on the footage.
- She also works as a freelance writer for Thrillist and College Humor.
“In both my playwriting courses and my Journalism writing courses I learned a lot about the building of a story and character, inclusive of making that character palatable and relatable for the audience. That's pretty much vital when it comes to making watchable TV.”
“I guess, as cliché as it seems, every step you take is a step forward. So, even if you run out of money and you have to move home with your parents, you are still moving forward. Just don't ever stop moving, and never get comfortable.”
Dan Woodstra ('13)
Mass Communication major
- He started as an intern at a tiny little production company in Minneapolis.
- Now, he is a freelance office production assistant — working with a team to plan, coordinate, and produce commercials.
“I got here by a) just going for it and moving to Los Angeles, b) a little bit of luck which led to, c) meeting and impressing the right people. In this industry it truly is all about who you know.”
“From all of my experiences at Miami — both in the department and out — what I value the most is the skills I gained toward being able to work in a team in a wide variety of situations that can often change very quickly while also being able to think for oneself within that framework. It’s been less the concrete knowledge and more the ability to think and problem solve. That may sound clichéd, but it’s totally true.”
“Being able to craft something yourself by cobbling together whatever limited resources (time, people, equipment) you can find is going to be critical to the start of your career. You might as well start that in college where all three of those things are a little easier to obtain.”
Charlie Yook ('96)
Broadcast Journalism major, Spanish and Political Science minors
- His first TV job after graduation was a non-paid internship at CLTV (Chicagoland Television), working in the sports department once or twice a week. He would log Chicago Bears games, get postgame sound at Bulls or Blackhawks games, and do some editing (it was tape-to-tape back then!).
- Currently, he is a senior coordinating producer for NFL Network overseeing the major events that they cover — including, but not limited to, the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Kickoff, Super Bowl, Scouting Combine and Draft. He makes sure they are staffed correctly — both in front of and behind the camera — and makes sure they are sound editorially.
“Not to make it sound simple, but I got here by working hard — being the first one in and the last to leave work — and because of my passion for sports and television production.”
“The best class I took in my major was the one that gave me the most tangible, hands-on experience, and that was working on a newscast. That semester, we switched roles every week — from on-air talent, to producer, to director, to camera operator, etc. It was great.”
“I honestly wouldn't change a thing. I'm doing exactly what I thought I would be doing. I guess if I were to give my younger self any advice, it would be to be patient.”