Grads Getting Great Jobs -- in Journalism and Beyond
Employers say the hands-on training in the classrooms of Columbia College Chicago and the wide variety of professional internships available in this news-rich city combine to produce graduates ready to be productive employees in journalism and a wide variety of other fields.
Recent graduates have been hired for a range of jobs around the country, from traditional reporting and anchoring for TV news stations, newspapers, magazines and online news sites to editing for start-up publications to multimedia work in a variety of fields. Columbia journalism grads are sought in the fields of corporate communications, politics, public policy, marketing, public relations and education.
Meanwhile, graduates who have been in the field for a while are moving up their career ladders, often to bigger markets. Among recent hires are Tony Merevick at Buzzfeed, Reena Amin, Sam Charles, Luke Wilusz and Angie Wiatrowski join Columbia alums Tina Sfondeles, Becky Schlikerman and Mary Mitchell at the Chicago Sun-Times. Heather Schroering, Sophia Coleman, Lauren Comitor and Amanda Sims have joined the Chicago Tribune.
In the broadcast world, Laura Matovina moved from Milwaukee to Chicago to become a producer at
Fox affiliate WFLD, while Lauren Nisavic became a producer for Comcast SportsNet and High School Cube in Chicago, Lauren Rozyla is an on-air reporter for KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Marty Kasper is a reporter for News10 ABC in upstate New York, Lisa Chavarria as a reporter in Chicago for WFLD-Channel 32, and Diane Pathieu, was hired as a reporter for ABC7 Chicago from her position as a reporter and anchor at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. Ali Balgooyen and Fallon Glick are working at WLIO-TV in Lima, Ohio, Mary Jo Ola is working as a reporter in Madison, Wis.
Steven Yaccino, a 2008 journalism graduate, was hired by the New York Times' Chicago bureau from his previous position as communications associate at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Grad Brian Dukerschein recently was promoted to associate editor at Modern Luxury's Chicago Social, Mallory Szczepanski is managing editor for Family Time Magazine and Thais Carter was promoted from editorial director to director business development for Advanstar Communications. Like many alums, they return to Columbia's journalism department when looking for interns.
Amanda Maurer, editor-in-chief of the Columbia Chronicle before she graduated in 2008, was hired right out of school as social media coordinator for the Chicago Tribune, working her way to digital news editor for the Tribune Media Group and then social media lead at 435 Digital for Tribune Company. She recently was recruited as creative director for Consumer Media Network.
Lucas Seiler, is now a reporter with the NBC affiliate KCWY in Fort Myers, Fla., while his classmate John Trierweiler joined KVLY/KXJB, the NBC and CBS affiliate in Fargo, N.D., as a reporter. Former Chronicle editor-in-chief Spencer Roush joined the Frankfort (Ind.) Times as education reporter, while Allison Rodriguez headed to Yuma, Ariz., to become an anchor/reporter for KYMA-TV.
Kellie Bartoli joined fellow Columbia broadcast alum Morgan Moore at WTWO in Terre Haute, Ind. Award-winning broadcast alum Damon Maloney moved to Youngstown, Ohio, to become weekend anchor/videojournalist at WYTV/WKBN-TV,
Experienced, connected faculty take students into courtrooms, professional locker rooms and legislative hearings and teach them to report and produce stories across multimedia platforms, providing a solid grounding in the basics of journalism and current technologies.
"Columbia helped me in so many ways for my current position," says Kalin Franks, who graduated in 2010 from Columbia and is web producer for 9&10 News/Fox 32 News in Traverse City/Cadillac, Mich. "I learned the importance of a multimedia platform. Your story doesn’t just go on-air, it’s on-air, online, on Twitter, on an RSS feed and accessible to anyone in the world. Also, Columbia taught me the importance of real-world experience. Without my internships (which lead to paid positions while still in school) I wouldn’t have been able to call on those experiences during my interview process which put me a cut above the rest of the competition.''
Other recent graduates are putting their skills to use in diverse ways -- from on-air reporting for Chicago Public Radio to community reporting for RedEye to editing at Huffington Post, Groupon and MetroMix.
Recent graduate George Slefo, a former editor for Patch.com in the Chicago suburbs, says the hands-on experience he received in classes, internships and through sheer proximity to such a wealth of local media helped him and his peers succeed after graduation.
"Simply having a degree in journalism won't get you a job in the field after college,'' he said. "You need experience.''
Marcus Riley of NBC agrees. "I think when you're in the classroom, there's only so much that you can really learn,'' he said. "It's important to get out on the street and learn what really happens in newsrooms like NBC. You can't really teach that real-world experience without going out and experiencing it for yourself. I'd say Columbia College absolutely gives students the skills that they need before they come in here.''
"We emphasize critical and entrepreneurial thinking, diversity of sources and varied internships, so our graduates are prepared to seize and create opportunities," said Nancy Day, Chair of the Journalism Department at Columbia College Chicago.