Be Very Persistent: Video Transcript

Jennifer Duck (BA Mass Communication, Miami, 2004) [producer for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360]: I always wanted to be in broadcast journalism. I kind of knew from day one. I didn't know what other roles there were in broadcast. So I thought I just wanted to be on air, and then once I kind of discovered through internships and through the Washington fellowship what, you know, other roles there were and realized there’s this big bad production world out there, and it was really even more attractive and more lucrative, and even to this day, I've done so many different roles in television news and entertainment as well.

I began my career at ABC News in Washington, DC at the network. It wasn't easy. I made $16,000 in 2004 when I graduated and had to live in Washington, DC, which is not a cheap city, so there was a lot of sacrifice. Prior to that though, I've always wanted to be on air. I wanted to be an on-air reporter. So I had sent 35 reels, at least 35, probably more, VHS tapes at the time, out to local markets, and wasn't really getting a lot of feedback. So I decided after doing the Inside Washington program at Miami that I wanted to move to Washington, DC, and just start at the network and see what I could do there.

My degree in mass communication, I learned how to do every role in the TV studio, and as I was out on the campaign trail, for example, I was one of the backpack journalists. So I had to shoot, edit, and then send it off via FTP, back to ABC News so they could get it on the air on the broadcast. And, you know, I was 26 at the time doing all this, so we were wheels up, and I was hitting send on the computer hoping that that video went through. And then writing a story on as well.

One of the benefits of going to Miami is you have these resources, these professors who've been in the business, know what it's like, but then they also have studied media and can tell you, guide you, in the right direction. I also think that, you know, when I was graduating, there was a lot of direct career paths for business majors to go to Ernst & Young or whatever the big firms were, and journalism is just such a wide open space. You can do so many things, and I think that it required a lot of guidance, and that's what Miami gave me.

A liberal arts education is the perfect way to go into the news business because there aren't conventional routes. A lot of times, you make your own kind of path to what you do. Television is definitely changing. You cannot just do television anymore. You have to be very savvy on social media. You have to know how to write, edit, shoot, report, live out of a suitcase. There are so many things that, you know, you have to be able to do if you want to go into this crazy field. And it's the most wonderful, amazing business and career path I could have ever chosen. But you just have to constantly keep learning.

My advice for Miami students is to be very persistent. A handwritten thank-you note is the best follow up you can give. A follow-up phone call—it sounds so simple, but those things matter. There are, you know, 10, 20, 30 people wanting the same job you want, so how are you going to stand out? You really got to figure that out. You've got to do your homework. You've got to research and be inquisitive. Be curious. Sometimes you have to work for little or no money in this business when you start out, and you may see your friends working at investment banks and doing really really well, but there's this passion that you have to have when you go into this field. And eventually you'll catch up financially, but don't be afraid to work for free, don't be afraid to take those opportunities even if you think, gosh, how am I going to scrape by on $16,000 a year? You'll manage. You'll somehow do it and you'll be stronger for it.

[April 2016]