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Columbia College Chicago

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 the most recent hires are Lauren Nisavic as a producer for Comcast SportsNet and High School Cube in Chicago, Lauren Rozyla as an on-air reporter for KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, Lisa Chavarria as a reporter in Chicago for WFLD-Channel 32, and Diane Pathieu, who was hired as a reporter for ABC7 Chicago from her position as a reporter and anchor at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. 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.

May 2012 graduates Ali Balgooyen and Fallon Glick have been hired at WLIO-TV in Lima, Ohio, and Shereen Mohammad is at KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa. Recent graduate Mary Jo Ola is working as a reporter/photographer for WTVO/WQRF in Rockford, where fellow Columbia alums Sachelle Saunders is a morning anchor and Marty Kasper is a reporter. Recent grad Mallory Szczepanski is now managing editor for Family Time Margazine, and 2010 graduate Angie Wiatrowski is at High School Cube. 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, a May 2011 broadcast journalism grad, is now a reporter with the NBC affiliate KCWY in Casper, Wyo., 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, Laura Matovina moved from Rockford, Ill., to Milwaukee to become a producer at CBS affiliate WDJT and Lauren Rozyla moved from El Paso, Texas, to Las Vegas to become a reporter with CBS affiliate KLAS.  

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, Patch.com and Pro Football Weekly, to editing at Huffington Post, Groupon and MetroMix.

Recent graduate George Slefo, a local 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.