Alumni News

"Make the most of your time there and get to know the professors. They have a lot of connections, both at their own outlets and to the D.C. journalism scene in general. Most of them are willing to give great career advice and even serve as references if you ask them."

Connect with Natalie on Twitter: @ByNatalieGross or at nikgross.com

Current Job Title and Company you work for: Reporter at Military Times

How did you get this job and how long have you been there?

I got this job during my last semester at Georgetown and have been there for two years.

What are your job responsibilities?

I primarily write about veterans’ issues, such as employment, education, and health care, and am also an associate editor for the Military Times Rebootcamp website aimed at service members transitioning out of the military.

Give us a quick “elevator speech” about your experiences now up to now.

I started my career as a local news reporter in New Mexico and Texas covering everything from city council meetings to county fairs. When I moved to D.C. in 2014, I got a job at the Education Writers Association, where I maintained a blog about Latino education and headed up our annual training seminar for members of the Spanish-language media. While that was rewarding work, I quickly realized that I missed being in a newsroom, so I started applying for reporter jobs again and eventually landed at Military Times. This ended up being the perfect move for me because of my background growing up in a military family, and I feel so honored that I get to share the stories of our nation’s heroes for a living.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Master’s degrees aren’t always necessary in journalism, depending on the job, but going to grad school had always been a personal goal of mine. And because I got my undergrad degree in English from a small school that most people have never heard of, I knew I wanted the J-school experience at a school that would get some attention on a resume. Also, the night schedule and downtown location were really what did it for me, since I had a full-time job the whole time I was in school.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you?

I learned a lot from working in the field prior to starting at Georgetown, but because I had only taken two journalism classes during undergrad, I lacked some of the book smarts.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

To be honest, the core video class we were required to take was my least favorite class at the time – mostly likely because I took it during the latest block of classes, so I was always really tired. But I think it’s actually been the most helpful since graduation. I feel much more confident going out on solo shoots and enjoy editing video now that I have been taught how to use Premiere properly.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Make the most of your time there and get to know the professors. They have a lot of connections, both at their own outlets and to the D.C. journalism scene in general. Most of them are willing to give great career advice and even serve as references if you ask them.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Public trust. Even people who haven’t jumped on the “fake news” bandwagon still seem to be skeptical of the media.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud of that you’ve published or accomplished in the last year or two?

In February, I wrote a story about 380 patients at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center who need new kidneys, including a 25-year-old Navy wife and mother of two who’s in stage 5 kidney failure. I recently learned that many, many people have come forward as potential donors for her as a result of the article. Sometimes journalism can be really tough, and you wonder if it’s really making a difference. Then you may actually play a small part in saving someone’s life.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism industry?

How little it pays, unfortunately. You have to really love it to make it your living.

What do you do for fun?

I just became a mom on March 16, so my new definition of fun is getting in all the baby snuggles – and naps – that I possibly can.

What's a goal that you hope to achieve in your career?

I’d eventually like to work as a producer in radio or television. I’ve also thought it would be cool to narrate an audiobook.

What are two of your favorite tools or apps related to communications/storytelling?

Since social media is a necessary evil in this industry, I’d say Twitter and Facebook. They’re good for connecting with sources and getting the attention of new readers.

"Diversify your course load so you can try to figure out precisely what you want to do. Experience is everything in journalism, and often it’s hard for journalists to pivot to other areas of coverage, whether it be different mediums or policy/political areas, after you’re doing one thing for a good amount of time. So, it’s ideal to start off in the direction you want to be going."

Connect with Brian on Twitter: @briandabbs

Current Job Title/Company you work for:

Energy and environment reporter for National Journal

How did you get this job and how long have you been there?

I’ve been here for about 18 months. Prior to this gig, I was an energy reporter at Bloomberg BNA. A friend of mine tipped me off to an opening at National Journal, and I jumped at the opportunity.

What are your job responsibilities?

At National Journal, we aim to do in-depth, nuanced policy reporting. I cover Congress. I write about two stories a week on forward-looking trends in the energy and environment space. We avoid stories that are covered extensively by other outlets. I speak daily with lawmakers and piece together those trends.

Give us a quick “elevator speech” about your experiences up to now.

Georgetown was a critical springboard for my career. During my graduate program, I landed an internship at the International Center for Journalists, a non-profit that helps to boost journalism globally. A senior executive there helped me get a job at a English-language publication in Egypt called Egypt Independent. I edited there, and ultimately took over the international desk as chief editor. That publication dispatched me to Libya during the height of the conflict there in 2011. I reported from there for Egypt Independent and freelanced for the Atlantic. That kickstarted two years of freelancing in Egypt and East Africa.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Georgetown is a prestigious institution and I knew I get a good education there. The faculty was chock-full of illustrious journalists and editors.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you?

A master’s degree is a huge asset to your resume. It shows you’ve put in the academic time to be serious about your career, and it gives more confidence to employers.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Diversify your course load so you can try to figure out precisely what you want to do. Experience is everything in journalism, and often it’s hard for journalists to pivot to other areas of coverage, whether it be different mediums or policy/political areas, after you’re doing one thing for a good amount of time. So, it’s ideal to start off in the direction you want to be going.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Two things: revenue woes and competition. We all know media outlets face difficult revenue circumstances now. And on top of that, D.C. is flooded with coverage, much of which is focused on breaking news first.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism industry?

Mostly that you can make a decent living. I figured I’d be on a shoestring budget for life, but I’m doing pretty well right now.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud of that you’ve published or accomplished in the last year or two?

I published a series of articles that shed light on former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s unethical activity at the agency. Ultimately, he resigned in mid-2018, and I like to think I helped to unveil some of the revelations that led to his ouster.

What's a goal that you hope to achieve in your career?

I hope to write novels. That doesn’t sound like a journalism goal, but writing daily hones you’re the skills that can be applied elsewhere, like literature.

If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?

I would have liked to be able to interview literary greats like Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell. Both of them toggled between journalism and literature. I’d like to ask them how each writing style complimented the other.

What are two of your favorite tools or apps related to communications/storytelling?

Twitter is an indispensable asset to journalism. The real-time news flow is unparalleled elsewhere.

"I work with a terrific group of really smart, professional, and flat-out nice people at U.S. News, much like those I went to school with at Georgetown. As an older worker (and student) I've had several editing jobs, all related to health, following my first career as a registered nurse."

Connect with Lisa on Twitter: @lisaespo

Current Job Title/Company you work for:

Patient Advice reporter/U.S. News & World Report

How did you get this job and how long have you been there?

I applied and got lucky! I've been there almost 5 years.

What are your job responsibilities?

Writing about health issues including medical conditions, mental health, aging, social determinants of health, wellness and prevention.

Give us a quick “elevator speech” about your experiences now up to now. (Feel free to tell us about your Georgetown JO journey and any previous internship/work experience.)

I work with a terrific group of really smart, professional, and flat-out nice people at U.S. News, much like those I went to school with at Georgetown. As an older worker (and student) I've had several editing jobs, all related to health, following my first career as a registered nurse.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Great program and I could get there after working at my previous full-time job in Dupont Circle.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Ethics.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Hang in there and keep writing.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Newsroom cuts.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism industry?

The huge time investment in transcribing interviews.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud of that you’ve published or accomplished in the last year or two?

Taking part in a panel of journalists and suicide experts on medical coverage of suicide at the Dept. of Health & Human Services.

What's a goal that you hope to achieve in your career?

Writing a mystery novel.

If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?

Patients who are candid about their medical experiences and I get to do this a lot!

What are two of your favorite tools or apps related to communications/storytelling?

Twitter and Facebook patient groups.

"The MPS journalism program gave me an opportunity to realistically pursue a life-long dream and passion. I didn't have much real-world experience or connections before coming to Georgetown, but that changed immediately once I started finishing classes and communicating with instructors and fellow students. Let your classmates, instructors, and advisors know what your specific goals are. It makes life a lot easier on you when searching for that dream job."

Connect with Donnell on Twitter: @sportsinmyveins

Current Job Title/Company you work for:

Sports writer at The Robesonian

How did you get this job and how long have you been there?

After months of scouring online job boards and attending networking events, I saw the opportunity on SportsJournalists.com, applied, then researched the editor via Twitter. It was perfect timing as the previous writer in my current position had just accepted a new role at a nearby organization. I've been working there for six months now.

What are your job responsibilities?

I help the sports editor cover all athletic events and news within Robeson County, NC to be published in our daily newspaper. The majority of my week is spent at the six high schools within the county, interviewing coaches and players, taking photos, and producing original content about key games, athlete/coach profiles and college signings, to name a few. I also help with editing copy and photos to be optimized for the newspaper.

Give us a quick “elevator speech” about your experiences now up to now.

I was connected with a local digital sports publisher while at Georgetown and was able to practice skills I learned in the classroom at live sporting events like Washington Wizards games. That helped me gain connections in the sports industry and equipped me with valuable clips that I used to land my current position.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

The MPS journalism program gave me an opportunity to realistically pursue a life-long dream and passion. I didn't have much real-world experience or connections before coming to Georgetown, but that changed immediately once I started finishing classes and communicating with instructors and fellow students.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you?

It's been truly invaluable and an automatic eyebrow raiser for potential employers during my job search. Even if I didn't get the job, I usually got an inquiry or interview request.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Even though I was a journalism major, it was actually a course on the public relations side, that I almost passed on, called Personal Branding. I still use some of the techniques and goal-setting strategies I learned in that class to help with my career.

What's one piece of advice would you give current students?

Let your classmates, instructors and advisors know what your specific goals are. It makes life a lot easier on you when searching for that dream job.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think there's a growing disconnect between speed and accuracy in the digital age. We'll have to work tirelessly to find the perfect balance in the near future.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud of that you’ve published or accomplished in the last year or two?

Shockingly, it isn't sports related. Within the first two months in my new role, I was asked to report on the conditions of local shelters for displaced victims of Hurricane Florence. It was an eye-opening experience that helped me get a better feel for the community. (Check out Donnell's articles about Hurricane Florence here: More than 400 still taking shelter from the storm, UNC football delivers win for those hurting from Florence)

What surprised you most about working in the journalism industry?

How mentally taxing it gets at times. Producing enterprise content for a daily publisher with an evening deadline gets stressful and requires a heightened sense of time management.

What's a goal that you hope to achieve in your career?

Eventually, I'd like to become a beat writer for a professional sports team.

Is there anything you’d like to share?

I feel fortunate to have found the MPS journalism program. I want to thank everyone that's helped me grow the last couple of years and I want to make sure everyone there knows I'm available if they want more information about sports journalism.

If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?

Jamie Foxx. Big time sports nut, and all-around talented individual that always gives great interviews.

What’s your favorite book or podcast and why?

Eleven Rings, by Phil Jackson. It's one of those non-fiction, tell-alls that can change a person's mindset for the better and give immeasurable inspiration at any level of their life journey.

"Journalism is such an applicable skill. It teaches you to be curious, investigative, and creative. A lot of the photography work I’m doing is based in theory and research, so I do a lot of writing as well. And a lot of it is very investigatory. While it’s not traditional journalism, I’m applying journalistic qualities to the work."

Alumna of the Month

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Current job title and company you work for:

I’m a fine arts photographer and visual activist.

How did you get this job and how long have you been there?

This has been a relatively recent career shift. I started focusing on photography this year. Prior to this I’ve worked in several mediums, specifically, journalism, international public diplomacy, and government. Most recently, I was the UK Foreign Office’s lead on Syria communications.

What are your job responsibilities?

I fight for societal change through art. I cannot stand idly by as social injustices continue to amass. Art elicits a visceral and intellectual reaction, and has the power to humanize emotions and fears. It can influence movements by giving it a voice. I’m currently working on a massive project about sexual assault in the United States. The project works to give power back into the hands of survivors of assault, and change the way we as a society talk about rape and sexual violence.

Give us a quick “elevator speech” about your experiences now up to now.

For the past decade, my career has been dedicated to giving a voice to the voiceless and lending a critical eye to global injustices. I started in journalism. I worked at a CBS News station, and then did some freelance writing and photography. I then took a step in a slightly different direction, and began to work in international public diplomacy. At a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., I was a media specialist working mainly on Middle Eastern crises. I helped shape the media coverage of world events in order to influence public opinions and bring a better understanding to the United States of what was happening overseas. I fell in love with being able to give voice to individuals who would otherwise be unheard, especially in working with Syrian activists pushing for freedom.

In 2016, I was recruited by the U.K. Foreign Office to lead their communications on Syria, based in Beirut. I worked closely with international journalists and global influencers to shape news on the Syrian conflict. I was responsible for providing quotes and background details in media interviews. Ultimately, I worked to influence the media and Western publics and governments. The role included official press statements and quotes for ambassadors and ministers. But it went beyond that — I helped Syrians connect with journalists and Western societies to help share their stories with the world. Efforts aimed to shatter fake news, internet trolls, and propaganda. With a rise in Western nationalism — and a rise in fear of ‘the other’ — it was crucial to show that Syrians weren’t to be feared, and that in reality, we share more commonalities than differences.

After about two years, I left Beirut and moved to London, where I am now. After some self reflection, I realized I wanted to focus on art, specifically photography.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Reputation and location. Obviously Georgetown is a great school - its reputation precedes it. But there are other fine universities across the U.S. that have excellent journalism programs. Georgetown, however, is at the heart of it all. To focus on journalism in the nation’s capital is exciting, especially if you’re interested in politics.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you?

Journalism is such an applicable skill. It teaches you to be curious, investigative, and creative. A lot of the photography work I’m doing is based in theory and research, so I do a lot of writing as well. And a lot of it is very investigatory. While it’s not traditional journalism, I’m applying journalistic qualities to the work.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

White House and the Press. When I took the class, it had two course leaders: CBS’s Chip Reid, and former deputy press secretary Tony Fratto. Having someone from ‘both sides of the desk’ was really cool, and allowed us to explore a lot of different avenues.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Take a variety of classes. You have a chance to explore, and to dabble. If something interests you -- even if it's not in your direct 'career path' -- take it! You don't know the next time you'll have an opportunity to get creative and study things as a hobby. You never know what will inspire you now, or 10 years from now.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Distrust. The current administration has managed to instill a level of suspicion in portions of America for the press. That’s so dangerous. Journalism is what keeps politics in check. Without it, power can act with impunity. Reestablishing sweeping trust in the independent media is our biggest challenge at this time.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud of that you’ve published or accomplished in the last year or two?

I just finished my first photo book, called PLASTIC. The word PLASTIC manages to define two fundamental, but ironically opposing, cornerstones to modern Lebanese society: obsession with plastic surgery, and a crushing plastic/garbage crisis.

Lebanese speculate that their obsession with plastic beauty stems from a post-war mentality of living like there's no tomorrow. Spend your money in the bank now, because you could be dead tomorrow, one plastic surgeon said. The issue with living like there's no tomorrow is that the environment is taking the toll. Many Lebanese said they believe their people do not worry about the environment for future generations, because they don't know if there will be war tomorrow.

The series explores the concept of beauty, the fragility of the environment, and the ups and downs of living like there is no tomorrow. In Lebanon, there is plastic as far as the eye can see. You can check out a feature about it in Dazed Magazine, and check out the book itself here!

What do you do for fun?

I travel, a lot. It’s part of the joys of living abroad. I love living in London, because it means so much more of the world is easier to access. My favorite city is probably Istanbul. I also recommend traveling alone, at least once. I used to travel alone for work a lot, and it's such a great way to learn about yourself.

What's a goal that you hope to achieve in your career?

Next step is having a solo exhibition in a gallery. That’d be a great milestone.

Is there anything you’d like to share that we haven’t covered?

I mentioned it above, but I live in London now. I’m originally from upstate New York near Buffalo, and went to the University of Richmond for my undergrad. I moved to D.C. for five years, then Beirut for two. Earlier this year, I made the move to London. Living in a variety of cities worldwide has been an amazing experience, and I highly recommend taking opportunities that take you out of your comfort zone.

If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?

Honestly, probably Putin. I worked on Syria for the better part of a decade, naturally there’s a lot of follow up questions that stem from that.

What are two of your favorite tools or apps related to communications/storytelling?

Instagram, for visual storytelling. Twitter, for real-time news.



"I chose to attend Georgetown because I wanted to become a creative storyteller. I love writing, and I possessed storytelling basics as an amateur screenwriter, but Georgetown helped me grow. Once you acquire the facts and gather the data, you could lend imagination as long as you remember to abide by a structure. I knew coming to Georgetown would be a challenge considering I didn’t have a journalism background, and I left with an understanding and appreciation of the storytelling/news reporting process."

Current job title and Company you work for:

Legislative Correspondent at United States Senate

How did you get this job and how long have you been there?

After interning and working as a staffer for six months, I was presented with the opportunity to take a position as a legislative staffer with my current office. But I arrived on the Hill by looking for sources for a story.

What are your job responsibilities?

Although I am not working directly with the press team, I write more than anything else as a Legislative Correspondent. Anytime a constituent sends a message regarding a financial issue, i.e. taxes, budget, banking, etc., I write a response and address the concerns they raised. I help draft memos for the Senator, keep a close eye on committees, and edit material in the financial portfolio as well.

Give us a quick “elevator speech” about your experiences now up to now.

My Georgetown JO journey started it all: I landed my press fellowship in the House of Representatives as a result of political reporting, then moved over to the Senate where I cut my teeth interning for communications and legislative staffers, and was ultimately given the chance to permanently stay onboard as an LC. But Georgetown was the catalyst, specifically former Faculty Director who urged us to make an effort to find sources in the field.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I chose to attend Georgetown because I wanted to become a creative storyteller. I love writing, and I possessed storytelling basics as an amateur screenwriter, but Georgetown helped me grow. Once you acquire the facts and gather the data, you could lend imagination as long as you remember to abide by a structure. I knew coming to Georgetown would be a challenge considering I didn’t have a journalism background, and I left with an understanding and appreciation of the storytelling/news reporting process.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you?

1. Landing a fellowship that led to a job 2. Approaching strangers for a story 3. Writing for different audiences 4. Finding polar opposite people to laugh with during times of anxiety and stress.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Political reporting, without a doubt.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Don’t hide in uncomfortable situations. A lot times throughout Georgetown I was forced to “show up” at uncomfortable moments. Whether it was interviewing a young couple about their Stromboli business during a neighborhood pop-up or driving through Silver Spring on a Saturday morning to conduct an interview in Spanish, the uncomfortable situations come at a dime a dozen in this program and your eagerness to handle them will make all the difference.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing journalists is finding a place in the current political and social environment. Nowadays, it’s easy for most people to pick a side and defend their views, and journalists are gradually falling off their perch of impartiality – angering groups or communities who don’t agree with them. Journalists wield considerable power, and with that power comes great responsibility, as Ben Parker would say.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud of that you’ve published or accomplished in the last year or two?

I am proud I graduated. I am proud I finished Capstone without losing my sanity. I am proud of the stories I wrote and the craft I adopted in the process. Furthermore, and importantly, I am proud I earned the respect and esteem of my peers.

What do you do for fun?

For fun, I enjoy reading and watching movies. I love basketball, and enjoy spending time with my friends.

What's a goal that you hope to achieve in your career?

I would like to reach an apex at multiple points in my career. Whether it be politics, journalism, education, or entertainment, I would like to work hard and share in the successes of a long and exciting career.

If you could interview anyone, who would it be and why?

If I could interview anyone, I would interview Jim Carrey or Lebron James. Both their careers fascinate me. I know it would be a lighthearted but also deep conversation with a lot of laughs.

"Engage yourselves in your courses, take account of the advice your professors can give you and make it a priority to go the extra mile for getting your articles, videos, or other assignments just right. It might be that they never get further than your professor, but you learn so much more if you take the time to understand the subject in depth or you chase the evasive source to make the article perfect. If something doesn’t seem right, the article could be more balanced, or you feel you need more documentation, follow your intuition — it will probably be right."

What company do you work for?

I am a freelance journalist, registered with my own company Birch Digital Media in Copenhagen, Denmark.

How did you get this job?

I had a job as a communication officer, when I got a freelance job for the magazine of the Danish Consumer Council. I got a tip from a person I met at a conference by the Union of Danish Journalists that the Council might need someone to write about cybersecurity. As this is my area of interest, I wrote the editor with several story ideas and followed up. He liked my ideas and I got to write the articles, before writing the articles for their cybersecurity campaign. In a short period of time, my assignments grew to such an extent that I had to choose between being a communication officer with a steady income and a freelance journalist. The choice was not hard. I am a journalist and even though I knew it would be hard, I didn’t hesitate.

How long have you been there?

I have been a full-time freelance journalist for one year by September 2018 and have been writing paid freelance articles on a regular basis a year before that.

What are your job responsibilities?

I write in-depth articles for the Danish Consumer Council mainly about cybersecurity, telecommunication, and private investments. I also write for a magazine called Money & Private Investments, which is like the Wall Street Journal for private investors, about investments in foreign stocks (so far: United States, China, Brazil, North and South Korea, and Sweden).

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I got to where I am today thanks to my education as a journalist and as a lawyer as well as my previous job experience. After I graduated with a Master’s in Law from the University of Copenhagen, I worked for over 10 years as a legal consultant on immigration in different municipalities. This gave me a solid knowledge of the workings of government and public service, the rules, and a network within the public service. Attending the journalism program (MPS) at Georgetown University sharpened my ability to communicate difficult subjects to a wider area of people on other subjects than immigration, for example cybersecurity and finance – and to present story ideas to editors, thereby getting assignments from the magazines for which I am currently writing.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Originally, I have a law degree and have worked for many years as a legal consultant at public offices. But I became increasingly interested in communicating the law and after taking a Diploma in Communication at the Danish School for Media and Journalism I decided to change course. I decided to go to the United States as I have always been fascinated by U.S. policy and as Washington, D.C. is the center of politics it seemed only right to go there. Additionally, Georgetown offered a high-quality program with experienced professors from major medias associated. It was also more affordable than American University and the George Washington University.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I have developed my pitches for story ideas and learned how to work like a journalist. The program also gave me a degree in journalism, which is important, if you want to be taken serious as a journalist in Denmark. However, most of all the program made me see myself as a journalist and go after it as there was nothing else I wanted to do.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Covering Capitol Hill. It helped me sharpen my story ideas that we had to make three pitches for story ideas per week. After I graduated, I had to pitch ideas for freelance articles to editors, and I only got to write for my current magazines because they liked my story ideas. My professor also gave us some great advice about how to structure an article; I have often used this as a starting point for an article, especially working with new subjects or in times of stress or lack of time. A side effect was that I really got engaged in the stories and the area I was writing about.

What advice would you give current students?

Engage yourselves in your courses, take account of the advice your professors can give you and make it a priority to go the extra mile for getting your articles, videos, or other assignments just right. It might be that they never get further than your professor, but you learn so much more if you take the time to understand the subject in depth or you chase the evasive source to make the article perfect. If something doesn’t seem right, the article could be more balanced, or you feel you need more documentation, follow your intuition – it will probably be right.

I also recommend that you get yourself a journalism or communication internship to learn the practical world of journalism and to expand your professional network. It is great going out on your own, but it is a good idea to have some practical background for doing that. It gives you an understanding for the people you are interviewing and a greater ability to communicate with them as well as an ability to plan your day and future. If you aspire to be a freelance journalist, I would recommend that you get as many assignments as possible as a starting point. Later, when everything is going great, it is a good idea to plan what you want to do and how you see your job several years ahead.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

My main challenge was getting hold of the sources. I wrote about undocumented students in Maryland and several of my sources didn’t want to involve their family or people they knew as they were undocumented too. Finally, I got someone who wanted to be a source, and who made a great source. However, as he was very busy with studies, work, and other activities, I had a hard time getting hold of him. So, I just kept on calling. I got hold of him and not only did I get several interviews with him, I also got to follow him at work and study and got to interview his father, friends, and work colleagues.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think the biggest challenge is the amount of data and number of people writing about news. A lot of them are not journalists, but they are followed on social media, and you can get an AI to write short news faster and just as well as journalists. If the business of journalism shall survive, it need to focus on quality and not quantity. It needs to be evident that a journalist has written the article; that it is fact-checked, more in-depth and is based on real interviews. There are initiatives to support this. However, there is also more pressure than ever within the media for the journalists to get more done in a shorter amount of time. At the same time, more media employ freelance journalists instead of full-time journalists, but they don’t pay them very much. It means that freelance journalists have get more done in less time to get money to live for, which could mean that the quality might suffer.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

I am proud of having succeeded in getting a steady income as a freelancer and that I am now able to see the outlines for a future enterprise, where I can do better than just survive. I am writing about new technologies and finance – and am beginning to establish myself as the person who writes the monthly columns about how to invest in stocks, currency, and bonds in other countries (among those the United States).

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

When I came back from the United States, I faced difficulties getting a job as a journalist or in communication, so I had to go back working as a legal consultant at a public office – I hated this. However, I began networking with other journalists, and continued to send out pitches to other editors. On the advice from another journalist I approached an editor from the Danish Consumer Council with the objective to write about cybersecurity. It turned out to be exactly the right time, because they had a campaign about cybersecurity just afterwards. As a result, I got to write the background articles for the campaign – and now 1½ years later, I am still writing for their magazine.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

One thing, which surprised me most as a freelance journalist and entrepreneur is that I cannot just think like a journalist, I must also think like a business woman. I still go where the stories lead me and put a lot of effort into my articles, but as I am paid per article and sometimes per page, I also look at how many hours I put into each article and how much it amounts to in hourly wage. If I can see that it is going to be more work than originally anticipated I talk to my editors beforehand – and we work out whether I should get more money or work less. However, sometimes I get so absorbed in the idea (especially if it is mine to begin with) that I put more work into it, even if I am not paid for the extra work.

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

I like to discover new places, small cafes and restaurants, parks, places by the river or the sea, where I can sit and read and write. In Washington, D.C. some of my favorite places were Congress, cafes at Dupont Circle and Downtown, Jefferson Memorial, and the harbor, restaurants, and cafes at Alexandria. In my free time, I especially like to write crime and thriller novels.

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

Expanding my business. Not just writing, but teaching and using visual remedies as games, visual reality, interaction, and animation to tell people my stories – especially about cybersecurity and new technologies. I love the process of creation; making a story come alive and I would really enjoy, if my creations could make areas like tech and finance seem relevant for ordinary people, so they take a more active approach towards their privacy and security online as well as their finances.

Finally, if you could meet and spend a day with someone famous who would it be and why?

I admire Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for his unyielding courage when fighting for what he believes in, his ability to admit his failures and go on, and how he, throughout his political career, has let his conviction be his guide above political popularity. I remember how he went against his Republican colleagues, when he supported Obamacare. I also applauded how he supported the two female Senators voting for Obamacare, who was unjustly ridiculed by the Republican Senators (mostly men).


"Everyone has a story to tell, and no one would be interested in this program if they were not fundamentally interested in storytelling and that starts internally. It’s easy to want to shrink into the back corner of the class or newsroom, do good work, and keep your head down. You can do this, but you miss out on injecting the human aspect (yourself) into the work. This is not an easy program to get into, and students should take pride in themselves and use that to go after their dreams. If you apply for an internship/job or pitch a story and are told “no,” you can always re-apply or pitch another editor. This industry is great at being discouraging, but the rewards are so worth it. Ask questions, put yourself out there, and learn as much as you can."

What company do you work for?

I’ve freelanced for Rolling Stone, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Salon and others for a number of years. I’m also co-editing a book on Shakespeare and Social Justice that will be published by Cambridge University Press next year (woo!)

How did you get this job?

I started freelancing for RS after an editor was sent some clips of mine from a blog that started out as an assignment for my classmate’s Digital Essentials class. From there, my writing for RS served as a springboard for me to freelance at other outlets.

How long have you been there?

I have been freelancing for five years.

What are your job responsibilities?

My responsibilities include being extremely self-motivated and disciplined. I have the luxury of writing from the road if I go on tour with my boyfriend, and the opportunity to write about a wide range of topics. I don’t however, have a daily routine or regular flow of stories, which means I have to make sure my pitches are timely, interesting, and competitive to be accepted over many others.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

My interest in how people operate and passion for writing have enabled me to write for magazines I have admired since I could read. I remember poring over the pages of ELLE thinking, “I wish I could do that,” and I have! I’ve written for well-respected magazine on topics that are massively important to me: women’s issues, immigration policy, and mental health. I’ve been able to use my interests as springboards for stories people might be interested in reading. I write in the hopes that I can educate and inform readers in a way that feels natural and accessible.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I was looking into graduate programs and Georgetown’s caught my interest because I had lived in D.C. for a fellowship in undergrad and wanted to return. A gaggle of my favorite bands were playing the D.C. Chili Cook-Off in 2012 when I went to D.C. to check out the campus and meet with the program director. I took it as serendipity.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I am almost done with a M.A. in English and American literature and had no idea my degree in journalism would prove so helpful. I’ve found that I have an easier time with research assignments and turnaround for long papers, probably because journalism requires so much attention to detail, background information, and discipline. I’m often praised for writing papers or giving presentations that are accessible to the reader or audience. One of the best pieces of advice on writing I have received is to flatter the intelligence of your reader. If you go over the head of your audience to prove your intelligence, it is alienating and boring. People don’t want to stop reading because they don’t understand. We are not writers without readers. If we write in a way that readers can meaningfully engage with, a connection is formed. The audience will think your writing is much more interesting and entertaining and that you’re really talented if you make the content easy to digest. The goal is to relay information and tell stories, not prove the vastness of a vocabulary.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Crafting Narrative Nonfiction with Howard Yoon was the most rewarding and useful course that I took in the program. Howard does a really excellent job at teasing out personal narratives and making each student feel safe, respected, and valued.

What advice would you give current students?

Stretch! Take up room! I remember feeling overwhelmed at certain points by a lot of things: unpaid internships, job prospects, the competitive nature of journalism. Thing is, everyone has a story to tell, and no one would be interested in this program if they were not fundamentally interested in storytelling and that starts internally. It’s easy to want to shrink into the back corner of the class or newsroom, do good work, and keep your head down. You can do this, but you miss out on injecting the human aspect (yourself) into the work. This is not an easy program to get into, and students should take pride in themselves and use that to go after their dreams. If you apply for an internship/job or pitch a story and are told “no,” you can always re-apply or pitch another editor. This industry is great at being discouraging, but the rewards are so worth it. Ask questions, put yourself out there, and learn as much as you can.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

My capstone was on the links between creativity, bipolar disorder, and touring musicians -- real fluffy topics, right? This meant my capstone (and graduation!) was contingent on mentally unstable people being well/willing enough to provide me the information I needed. And it was not easy to obtain. There was a period of six months where I didn’t hear from my primary source. I was very invested in the story and the reporting, and had to really rely on interpersonal skills to complete my capstone. None of it would have been possible without the support of my family who was always available to talk through a section I wasn’t happy with or send a pizza when I was particularly stressed and too preoccupied to feed myself. It helped to have someone to write for.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Donald Trump

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

I’m going to France! I was recently invited to speak at the Anthropological Research Institute in Bayonne at a special conference focusing on music, emotion, and migration. I will be speaking about the migration of Hip Hop as a genre that occurred during the same time refugees from Mexico were seeking asylum from drug cartels. Today, the U.S.-Mexico border has a very interesting hip hop culture that extends beyond the borders of the genre and geography, and I think it’s so cool to study. I’ve always been curious about things like this, and now I’m being flown to France to talk about something I think is so cool and have had the great fortune to make a career out of! I started out as a Rock and Roll reporter!

What's a failure you've faced and overcome?

I don’t use that “f”-word. Journalism is full of failure if you choose to be pessimistic and that is something I’m unwilling to be. The biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is rejection, rejection, rejection. You send a pitch that is passed on or don’t receive a response, and feel like you’re the world’s most embarrassing and ineffectual writer. You’re not. Editors are busy and working hard to keep their newsrooms functioning in a volatile climate.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism industry?

The perks! The pay is laughable but nothing compares to having a byline on a national magazine or recognition from someone you admire. Emily Ratajkowski tweeted about an essay I wrote about her, and now I’m on her Wiki page. You never think things like that will happen.

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

I do the same thing for fun that I started out doing for work: I go to concerts and talk to people about music. I love to explore and to write, and I pinch myself everyday because I’m so grateful to be able to make these things happen. Some of my favorite places in D.C. are 9:30 Club, chicken noodle soup at Chinatown Express, The Remnick Gallery, Reggae night at Eighteenth Street Lounge (arrive early!), and the monuments at night.

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

Continuous improvement

Finally, if you could meet and spend a day with someone famous, who would it be and why?

Fellow Georgetown alum and Today Show anchor, Savannah Guthrie! I admire that she is a well-educated woman who uses her knowledge and platform to inform the public every morning while also being a mother, wife, friend, and author. I always love her sartorial choices and that her scripts are printed on pink paper.


Judy Kurtz (G '15)

@JudyKurtz

August 2018

Alumna of the Month

"When it comes to getting your first gig in journalism, don't be picky. Get your foot in the door, prove yourself, and then work towards the ultimate beat you want to cover or job you want to do. And find a mentor! Journalism is fiercely competitive. Find someone who can be your sounding board, guide, and ally throughout your career. Keep in touch with that person and don't just reach out to them when you need something. I still have great relationships with mentors who have served as real support systems for me over the years."

What company do you work for?

The Hill. I also teach "Entertainment Reporting," a course I developed at Georgetown.

How did you get this job?

The old cliche: lots of hard work, persistence, and determination.

After working for years in local TV news, I wanted to cover entertainment and politics in my hometown of Washington. I interviewed twice with The Hill, and I got the job on my second try.

How long have you been there?

Seven years.

What are your job responsibilities?

I report and write The Hill's "In the Know" gossip column, covering the latest buzz in Washington, as well as the intersection of Hollywood and politics.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I started right out of college at a station in Nashville, Tenn. as an associate producer before getting reporting gigs at various outlets around Washington. I made my way to Baltimore's Fox 45, and then landed my current job at The Hill. In addition to my full-time role at The Hill, I've also worked as a contributor for both D.C.'s Fox 5 and E! News. I made my way by getting my foot in the door and then putting in a lot of hours and hard work. It sounds cliché, but it works.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I always dreamed of teaching journalism, and what better way to do that than go through the process of being a grad student at Georgetown?

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

My degree helped me stay on top of what I had already learned as a working journalist, and also helped fine-tune my skills. Also, having the experience of being a student really helped me as an instructor at Georgetown with being able to relate first-hand to the challenges and lives of those in the journalism program.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

I loved a class called Art of the Interview, which served as a tune-up for me and the kind of reporting I do on a daily basis. I also found Personal Branding to be helpful, since as journalists, many of us don't often consider the best ways to differentiate ourselves and our work in a hyper-competitive field.

What advice would you give current students?

When it comes to getting your first gig in journalism, don't be picky. Get your foot in the door, prove yourself, and then work towards the ultimate beat you want to cover or job you want to do. And find a mentor! Journalism is fiercely competitive. Find someone who can be your sounding board, guide, and ally throughout your career. Keep in touch with that person and don't just reach out to them when you need something. I still have great relationships with mentors who have served as real support systems for me over the years.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

Time — or lack thereof, I should say! I was juggling my full-time job at The Hill, along with contributor roles at E! and Fox 5, while I was completing my Capstone. Oh, and I was also raising a toddler and pregnant with my second kiddo. Being efficient and using my time wisely (skipping the coffee run to opt for conducting a phone interview, for instance) was key.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think balancing the need for speed with accuracy is a constant issue, and even more so now with the non-stop, 24/7 news cycle. If you have errors or inaccuracies in your story, it doesn't matter if you're the winner in the race to be first.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

Producing two humans (my son, Derek, and my daughter, Gracie) definitely tops the list! And continuing to do two jobs I love — at The Hill and at Georgetown — is icing on the professional cake.

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

When I first interviewed for my job at The Hill, I didn't get it and was very bummed. But I spent the next few years building my clips, networking, and getting better. I interviewed for the same job two years later, and here I am.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

Work-life balance can be a challenge in virtually any field, but it was surprising to me just how difficult it was as a journalist. My dad's a reporter, so I knew what to expect to a certain degree, but I also grew up when cell phones, the internet, and social media weren't part of the picture. Jumping from market to market for TV gigs can make it hard to build and maintain relationships. And there's never any real vacay mode. Like a doctor, journalists these days are essentially always on-call — (usually minus the whole "saving people's lives" part.)

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

Fun these days is shuttling my kids to gymnastics classes, playgrounds, and birthday parties! Every now and then I love getting a night out with my husband, or trying a new restaurant with some of my girlfriends.

While it might sound ridiculously cheesy, I find my job to be a lot of fun. Covering parties and interviewing lawmakers, celebrities, and fascinating people isn't exactly the worst gig. I once interviewed Keith Urban (obnoxious name drop alert!) and he said something that's stuck with me. Whenever he gets stressed about his job, thinking, "Oh, I have to go here and here, and I have to do this and that," he checks himself. He then flips the narrative, saying, "I don't have to do this and that, I get to do it."

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

Teaching more students and hooking them up with employment opportunities (which has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career) and continuing to have a blast doing what I love at The Hill.

Finally, if you could meet and spend a day with someone famous who would it be and why?

At the risk of this sounding like a #humblebrag, I spend time with famous folks a lot for my job! But I'd love to pick Howard Stern's brain. He's one of the best interviewers on the planet.


Callan Mathis (G '17)

July 2018

Alumna of the Month

"I would never have had the opportunity to work at such amazing companies and learn from great journalists had I not attended Georgetown. I had a very positive experience and took advantage of every learning opportunity I could while in school and during my internships. I felt that I became more concise in how I expressed myself on paper, and I would not have learned to enhance that skill without coming to Georgetown."

What company do you work for?

WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.)

How did you get this job?

LinkedIn

How long have you been there?

Two months

What are your job responsibilities?

On any given day I am responsible for scheduling posts on the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for WWE and WWE Network. There are over 300 accounts for Facebook alone, so learning the tone and posting interesting content for each page and is crucial. I also work at least one show per week, which is either Raw, SmackDown or NXT. For whichever show I work, I will be responsible for either the Fan Ticker or cutting clips live. For the Fan Ticker, I select tweets from fans who are watching the show in real time and submit them to a producer who will use them for an onscreen crawler mid-show. When I cut clips during a live show, I select several, minute-long clips throughout the three-hour show and post them in real time to Facebook and Twitter with original copy. Following the show, I receive web exclusives from the Digital Team and post those when they come in. We also have pay-per-view events once a month, and I work those events as well. The hardest part, in the beginning, was learning all of the wrestler’s names and nicknames, but now I’ve really gotten into the swing of things. My job is so fun that it rarely feels like work, which is a blessing.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

When I was at Georgetown I had internships with AARP, The British Embassy, and ESPN. Each experience was different and truly helped to shape who I wanted to be in my career. Working at AARP required a lot of fact-checking because the magazine has the largest circulation in the world. I worked on the communications team and dabbled in social media at The British Embassy, and ESPN was a writing-heavy internship. All three of those experiences helped to give me the skills necessary to work where I am today.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I was accepted to a few programs but ultimately decided on Georgetown because I was confident that’s where I would get the best education and experience. I also never realized how great the flexible class schedule was until I started interning. Had classes been during the middle of the day, it would have been impossible for me to intern while simultaneously going to school.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I would never have had the opportunity to work at such amazing companies and learn from great journalists had I not attended Georgetown. I had a very positive experience and took advantage of every learning opportunity I could while in school and during my internships. I felt that I became more concise in how I expressed myself on paper, and I would not have learned to enhance that skill without coming to Georgetown.

What is a class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

News Reporting and Writing helped me the most. One of the first things I learned in that class was that it is often better to use the $1 word instead of the $100 word. That couldn’t be more true, especially in social. Nobody wants to read an entire paragraph on Facebook—they just don’t. Keeping things short, concise and to the point is always what I think about when I create social copy, and that class taught me how.

What advice would you give current students?

Take advantage of internship opportunities while you are in school. I worked at AARP and The British Embassy at the same time in one semester. I won’t sugarcoat it and pretend it wasn’t a lot of work, because it was. There were times when I would work on classwork during my lunch breaks, or do an interview during the workday. It isn’t the easy way, but it’s effective. You’ll be able to take what you are learning and directly apply it to a position today, not when you graduate and start looking for a job. Employers want to see bylines, and having so many from ESPN and AARP gave me a lot of material to work with when applying for jobs.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

If I had to redo capstone, I would have scheduled my workload differently and not left everything until the last minute. I finished everything on time, but it would have been a lot less stressful at the end had I spaced everything out better.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I would say that staying ahead, current and new is a challenge facing anyone in media and entertainment. Everyone wants to put out content that is interesting and keep viewers engaged, so constantly thinking of ways to do so is crucial.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

Besides graduating, being hired at WWE feels like the best accomplishment of the last two years. The sheer scale of how many people follow our accounts is pretty remarkable. It still feels kind of crazy when I click the ‘Publish’ button on our main Facebook page, which has nearly 40 million followers alone.

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

This is going to sound unbelievably cliché, but you genuinely can’t give up on yourself because you fail once. Or twice. Or five times. You have to maintain a positive attitude about everything, hold your head up, and keep going. I didn’t get every job I applied for, and it took me nearly a year after graduating to find the RIGHT job for me. I had one opportunity about a month after I graduated that I thought was going to be perfect. I went through five interviews, was essentially asked about a start date, and everything seemed ready to go! But, a few days later I found out the job was offered to an internal candidate. Was I upset? Of course! But I had to keep the mindset of knowing something better was around the corner. Now I am working at a company that I absolutely love and couldn’t be happier.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism industry?

Speaking from the standpoint of working in entertainment, I was surprised at the amount of work that goes into doing social for a live show. There are so many elements that happen before, during and after the show, and I have a new respect for it.

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

I am a big fan of cooking, which is a convenient habit do have. I have a little cooking show on Snapchat, which is always a nice way to relax. DC has a great restaurant scene, so I always loved going out to eat when I lived there. There is a great sushi restaurant in Gallery Place called S.E.I. I still miss the fish and chips roll, it’s a little out of control.

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

I’m looking forward to continuing to learn, grow, and become better. I’ve learned so much in the two months that I have been at WWE, and I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.

If you were a prize fighter, what song would play when you walked into the ring?

Well, of COURSE, I have to pick a WWE song. The one I most often sing along to is Bobby Roode’s ‘Glorious Domination’ entrance music. If a fluffy, sparkly robe and a choir don’t say “I’m ready to enter the ring,” I don’t know what else does.


Katherine Brazauskas (G '11)

June 2018

Alumna of the Month

"Take opportunities, learn new things, and be open to new challenges. It’s so important to push yourself, sometimes out of your comfort zone, and experience something different. I tried to attend any suggested lecture, talk, or event out of curiosity. You never know where an opportunity might take you, and, sometimes, you’ve got to make your own!"

What company do you work for?

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)

How did you get this job?

At the time, I was living in Boston, MA and had a strong desire to move back to Washington, DC. I applied for the position and went through the hiring process.

How long have you been there?

I joined NRECA in January 2014. Time certainly goes by quickly!

What are your job responsibilities?

As Senior Web Operations and UX Specialist my position is multifaceted. I manage digital member interactions for our participant and member cooperative facing website platform. NRECA is a trade association that represents rural electrical cooperatives. We have member cooperative clients, and members of our group benefit and retirement plans, which brings a unique online audience. My team does everything from building website pages through wireframes, to designing and implementing content curation. I love to put my writing skills to good use, creating user friendly information that resonates with our audiences. I have been able to grow our online offerings through some of the skills I learned while at Georgetown. For example, I enjoy producing original training videos for our member cooperatives, as well as editing video, voiceovers, and multimedia, which provides our membership with easy accessibility to complicated concepts.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I have a diverse background that has aided my career and given me a more holistic view in the way I approach challenges. I have worked for a myriad of companies, but they all have had one thing in common: gaining the trust of the consumer and delivering a quality product. Whether that be in the athletic footwear industry, where I assisted the tennis and training team in delivering a quality product to athletes, or my work on the 2012 campaign, transmitting information to voters, I find that my passion is delivering information in a clear and comprehensible way. I enjoy helping people and solving problems, I love working in a fast-paced environment that allows for creativity, as well as being responsible for many different roles. My parents are both educators and they instilled in my brother and I the importance of respect, as well as empathy. I have found that the most important element to success is to treat people the way you would like to be treated. Basic advice; yet, it holds true personally as well as professionally.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I interned in Washington, DC during college and fell in love with the city. From the bustling political activity on the Hill to the quaint streets of Georgetown, the city offered a truly unique experience. I was first introduced to Georgetown University though my uncle and my cousin’s experiences attending Georgetown as undergrads. After college, I wrestled with my next steps, pursuing a law degree or attending journalism school. I ultimately decided that Georgetown offered everything I could ask for: a top-rated learning opportunity from professors who were leaders in their field. It was the perfect choice for me. I love getting to know people, advocating on their behalf, and upholding a sense of justice. To me, journalism affords the opportunity to get to know people and share their story, that’s something that has always been important to me.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

My background in journalism has been extremely helpful in my communications career. From practical skills like video recording, editing, and writing compelling content, Georgetown University’s journalism program afforded me the opportunity to hone my strengths while introducing me to new platforms.

What is a class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

It’s hard to pick just one class that was the most impactful during my studies at Georgetown. They were all valuable and I have taken so many applicable skills from each experience, so I decided to list a few:

Video Editing Instructor: Estel Dillion – This class was my introduction to videotaping, editing, and creating a package. I still remember pulling the huge camera, sound, and lighting cases around DC during what felt like the hottest summer on record. I learned so many skills that I’ve applied to my profession as well as my personal interests, from taping fun skits at work for our internal blog, to editing video of meetings, webinars and online tutorials. I’ve also applied the skills I learned during the video class to my favorite hobby, skiing, trying to marry Warren Miller films with my own skiing and editing skills.

Crafting Narrative Nonfiction Instructor: Howard Yoon – One only has to look at my Google Drive to see how much I loved this class. I still have everyone’s nonfiction writing saved and read it from time to time. Crafting Narrative Nonfiction with Howard Yoon was a fantastic introduction to the world of editing and publication. I couldn’t wait to get to class, which met weekly at the Press Club. We had great discussions about our work and Howard would always share insight on his projects and the world of publishing. It made me feel like we were part of his publication team. He did a great job treating us as peers and welcoming us into the world of professional writing.

Journalism of Conscience Instructor: Linda Kramer Jenning – Linda brought journalism to life during Journalism of Conscience. We had wonderful discussions that were always thought provoking. Everyone learned so much from Linda’s firsthand experience as editor at Glamour. What struck me was the collegial attitude we all shared and the amazing bonds we forged during our meetings.

Covering the White House Instructors: Chip Reid and Tony Fratto – Not very often do you get to see your professor on the nightly news and then meet with him just a few hours later to discuss national issues. Covering the White House with Chip and Tony was an amazing experience to hear firsthand accounts from two White House experts. With Tony’s background as deputy assistant and deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush and Chip’s daily coverage of the news in Washington as ABC correspondent, you couldn’t have asked for better instructors. We even had a memorable visit to the White House briefing room, a truly special experience.

What advice would you give current students?

Say, “Yes!” Take opportunities, learn new things, and be open to new challenges. It’s so important to push yourself, sometimes out of your comfort zone, and experience something different. I tried to attend any suggested lecture, talk, or event out of curiosity. When Prince Charles visited Georgetown University in 2011, I entered the ticket wait list for his address, and to my chagrin I wasn’t selected from the lottery. I did however decide to stand outside Healy Hall waiting for the event to end in the hopes that I would catch a glimpse of him exiting. To my amazement, a few moments later, I found my hand in his, and Prince Charles asked me why I wasn’t studying for finals! You never know where an opportunity might take you, and, sometimes, you’ve got to make your own!

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

I had a wonderful capstone advisor, Tom Mattesky, and really enjoyed the freedom and creative process the capstone opportunity afforded. I would have loved to showcase as well as seen my fellow classmates capstone projects. So much work goes into these studies that I wish I had the opportunity to learn from others. I pitched my capstone to NPR, with the guidance of one of my instructors, Keith Jenkins, and was so excited about the opportunity to share my work. Unfortunately, it was not published but it was a great experience. I hope there is a greater opportunity to turn capstone work into marketable projects, expanding the learning opportunity.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

Professionally, I have had the opportunity to address national audiences and speak to them about complex ideas. I love the opportunity to get in front of an audience and think about ways to connect with each and every one of the people in the room. Connecting with people is one of my favorite things to do, whether it be in person, online, or through the written word. Speaking engagements and one-on-one interactions are things that I relish, and I stress that it’s so important to find and make these opportunities. Get out from behind your computer and meet with those you are working so hard to serve.

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

Washington, DC is a great city to explore – there are so many options for fun and most of it is free! I love being outdoors, and my boyfriend and I often ride our bikes around the monuments and Hains Point after work. Skiing, tennis, and horseback riding are my passions, and DC and its suburbs are a great place to get outside and moving!

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel extensively in the United States and abroad with my family. My parents instilled a love of travel at an early age, and it truly is the best education.

My advice to everyone is keep exploring, take adventures in your own backyard, or commit to a travel plan – there’s so much to see and do. You’ll be happy you did!

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

I would love to one day own my own business. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I think it would be so satisfying to put forth my own creativity and ideas as a business owner.

Finally, if you could meet and spend a day with someone famous who would it be and why?

If I could spend a day with someone famous it would be Serena Williams. As a lifelong tennis player I would love the opportunity to join her on the courts! I am also so impressed by her professionalism and life away from crowded tournaments and practice courts. It would be fascinating to share a day with her!


John Gregory (G '09)

May 2018

Alumnus of the Month

"Network network network! After I was laid off from my final newspaper, my next two jobs were directly from Georgetown contacts. Every job I have gotten since then has been with the input of a contact in my network. I was determined when I first got out of college to get everything in my professional life without help. Now I understand just how foolish that is and how critical networking is to your long-term success in any industry."

What company do you work for?

Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C.

How did you get this job?

When I got out of law school, I started at a small law firm doing similar work. My now-current firm had an opening in my practice area, and several friends I have here encouraged me to apply. I did, interviewed, and was hired.

How long have you been there?

Approx. 3 and a half years.

What are your job responsibilities?

Our firm primarily handles civil litigation on the defense side. I work with partners in my firm to handle virtually every aspect of civil litigation all the way through trial (if necessary), including initial client/witness interviews, case evaluation, drafting pleadings, research, writing memos and motions, oral argument, mediation, pre-trial hearings, etc.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, I interned for the local newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star, on the Web side. That led to a full-time gig at a paper in Billings, Mont. that was owned by the same company. After that I went to a paper in the DC area, where I was part of a mass layoff after less than year and about halfway through my time at Georgetown. This change, coupled with the sudden death of my brother about four weeks prior, made me reevaluate a lot about my life. I took it as an opportunity to explore a lot of different career paths (including a great internship with the Caps through the Sports Management Program) but nothing panned out quite the way I hoped. Ultimately, my pre-college interest in law school was revived. I applied, was accepted, and matriculated in 2010. The rest is history.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I was part of Georgetown Journalism’s first entering class, so the excitement of being the start of something was a real draw. On top of that, the faculty and curriculum gave me an opportunity to get both skills and exposure to job prospects that I would not otherwise get so quickly working at smaller regional newspapers.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

Journalism teaches so many skills that are applicable across so many disciplines. For me, the ability to write succinctly and often on deadline has been helpful, as has the ability to interview someone and distill from that the meat of what they are saying.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Paul Singer’s “Covering Capitol Hill” class gave me the single best writing advice that I still use today. His phrasing is propriety (I think) so I won’t share it, but the point is the same: remember your audience and why they care. Always remember why you’re making the point you’re making and who you’re making it to. It’s amazing how often people stray from that and lose their audience, lawyers included.

What advice would you give current students?

Network network network! After I was laid off from my final newspaper, my next two jobs were directly from Georgetown contacts. Every job I have gotten since then has been with the input of a contact in my network. I was determined when I first got out of college to get everything in my professional life without help. Now I understand just how foolish that is and how critical networking is to your long-term success in any industry.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

When I first set out to do my capstone, I had one idea in mind about what I would do and how I would do it. After a couple of weeks it was clear that my initial direction was probably not going to work as I envisioned, so I really had to recalibrate everything on the fly. The ability to adapt and make such a big pivot was ultimately a helpful experience for me though, since I now see that a bit often more often than I would like.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think the biggest challenge journalists have is regaining the public’s trust. Advocates on both sides of the established political aisle have rather effectively diminished the media’s standing in the eyes of an increasingly polarized populace. I don’t think many news outlets have done themselves any favors on this front, either. I know it is difficult in a 24-hour news cycle with decreasing resources, but I think more robust, in-depth reporting on substantial issues would go a long way, and I’d like to think the public has the intelligence and patience for it.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

My greatest accomplishment is my family. I now have 4- and 2 year-old daughters, a wonderful wife, and they are the measure of my success.

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

Losing my job in mid-2008 and being unemployed around the economy’s nadir was difficult, but I made it through with the generosity of my family and the help of the contacts I made or re-established. I think I am also proof that there is life after journalism if you realize, after you’ve been in it for a few years, that maybe you don’t like it as much as you thought.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

Just how much so many care deeply about their jobs. Most people I encountered don’t see this as a 9 to 5, nor do their hours reflect it.

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

I run, am captain of the firm softball team, and am trying to pick up golf. I still follow all of the DC area sports teams (except for the Nats—go O’s!) and track local news when I can. DC seems so different every time I go back, but when I go I try to make sure we get to the zoo and always get Ledo’s pizza.

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

Continuing to help our many clients, who are brand new to the legal process and quite scared about being sued.

If you were a prize fighter, what song would play when you walked into the ring?

Oh man, this is the single hardest question to ask someone who grew up watching wrestling! Ric Flair had the best entrance music ever, so I’ll go with the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it would depend a lot on what mood I was in that day.

Stephanie Kariuki (G '15)

April 2018

Alumna of the Month

@StephKariuki

"When you aren’t getting the opportunities you want, make them yourself. Taking that kind of initiative will last you in the long run even if the thing you make is temporary. Also, if you're like me and find it hard to motivate yourself, find someone whom you can either work with or work alongside. Building a community of peers is just as important as finding mentors because those people will be working alongside you in the industry for a long time anyway. "

What company do you work for?

I work as an Assistant Producer for Midroll Media- a podcasting network that also creates shows for Stitcher and Earwolf in New York. I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts, making them and figuring out which shows should be made!

How did you get this job?

I went to a conference (Online News Association 2016) that Doug Mitchell (!) recommended I volunteer for. It was a crazy experience where I somehow figured out where to stay, how to get there and what to do in the span of 3 days for basically free. It was at this conference that I met a recruiter for the job I have now! The lesson here- say yes even when you aren’t sure, you never know what will happen.

How long have you been there?

I’ve been working at the company for a year and a half.

What are your job responsibilities?

My main job is to help make podcast pilots for our two networks- Stitcher & Earwolf. This means I’m often thinking of ideas or working with people who have ideas on what makes for a great podcast. Those ideas take several steps- including many discussions and getting into the studio to execute- all of which I do. I also take care of a lot of logistical/organizational stuff that helps maintain order when we are fielding so many pitches. No two days are the same but mostly my job requires a balance between organization and creativity.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I’ve had so many different types of jobs. I started out as a local radio intern while getting my bachelors at Ohio State. I would go into our radio station, record ‘weekly updates’ and then they would air throughout the commercial breaks. After graduation, they hired me as an On-Air Talent- meaning I would work the late night/weekend shifts and actually be on air. This helped me understand what my ‘radio’ voice was and that I truly had a passion for this form of journalism.

I went to Georgetown because I wanted to be in a bigger market (for work) but really didn’t want to go to NYC (yet). While in school I worked mainly at a non profit- which had nothing to do with my journalism experience. After graduation I grew frustrated in not being able to find a job doing what I wanted so one of my best friends and fellow alumnus (Ashley Edokpyai) and I created a podcast called The Millennial Hour. It was the best thing we could've done looking back on it. About a year after creating our podcast, it gave way to my current job which I absolutely love.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I was already working in journalism in Ohio but being in a bigger market was all I could think about. I visited Georgetown while in undergrad and thought it was a beautiful place and the professors all worked at places I wanted to be. By that point, it was a no-brainer.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

The most impactful way the program helped me was in meeting the right people. I cannot emphasize enough how much of the journalism business is about your amazing skills AND who you know. Doug Mitchell (whom I mentioned earlier) is someone who I never took a class with but gave me an opportunity that led me here. Ashley Edokpayi is a friend and creative partner whom I plan to work with as much as possible throughout my career. Matt Apuzzo taught one of the hardest classes I have ever taken but allowed for me to understand national security in a way that is beyond helpful now and I now hear him constantly in the podcast ‘The Daily.’ There are many stories like these and for each one I am very grateful.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

The National Security class I mentioned earlier. So useful to understanding our current news climate.

What advice would you give current students?

When you aren’t getting the opportunities you want, make them yourself. Taking that kind of initiative will last you in the long run even if the thing you make is temporary. Also, if you're like me and find it hard to motivate yourself, find someone whom you can either work with or work alongside. Building a community of peers is just as important as finding mentors because those people will be working alongside you in the industry for a long time anyway.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

Capstone was stressful and I find it a little triggering to have to retrieve any memory of it, let alone the most challenging. However, if I had to choose, it would be the time I travelled a couple hours for a source and then realized she wasn’t going to be that helpful to what I thought my story was. I had to figure out a way to adjust the arc so that it was an accurate depiction of her rather than trying to fit her into what I thought the story should be. This meant a lot of restructuring and researching but in the end it worked out. Realistically though it’s the sort of thing I run into all the time now so looking back, it was a foundation to similar elements facing my current work.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Finding the balance between stories and facts is something I’ve noticed my colleagues and I grapple with. In an effort to give voices to groups that feel under-heard, there is a trend among journalists to forgo the facts that support or contradict the story. This kind of reporting can be dangerous and it is why an emphasis on journalism school, ethics or some kind of background knowledge on where to draw the line and more diversity in the newsroom/production is is absolutely necessary moving forward.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

Last year I worked as a Production Assistant on this beautiful project with Marvel (Wolverine the Long Night). It was an ambitious way to record a podcast that had us on location and using a very very cool mic. I also helped in the creation of a pilot for a podcast called Unladylike. I’ve worked on quite a bit of other things that are very exciting but can’t talk too much about yet but ask me again in a year!

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

Self doubt has always been my biggest struggle. This isn’t a tangible challenge but I think it’s a real thing many people beginning in this industry have to overcome. It’s very important to always remember that if you are somewhere, it’s because you DESERVE to be there and no one should ever take advantage of that.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

How nice people can be? I’ve always thought journalism was cutthroat - no holds bar competition because only a few people ‘make it.’ However, my experience (granted this might be different in the audio world vs written) has been largely positive. I’ve met people who really support me and have found it to be a welcoming environment if you have something to bring to the table.

What do you do for fun? What were some of your favorite places from DC?

I hang out with friends, run, travel and read a lot! I miss grabbing happy hour or hanging around U street with friends!

Who is your dream person to interview?

Beyonce. More than anything, I want to know more about her creative process and find a way to get her to let me produce something for her!

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

I’m looking forward to the point where I no longer have to do anything I don’t want to. In other words, being in a place where 100% (or even 95%) of my job is what I want to be doing- is that even realistic?

If you were a prize fighter, what song would play when you walked into the ring?

Right now it would be Childish Gambino- Redbone or a Drake song.

McLean Robbins (G '12)

March 2018

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram

Website: http://www.mcleanrobbins.com

"Writing is hard, sometimes. Doing things right - sending in stories on time, doing a read through of your copy, and being thorough with your interviewing - is easy. I'm amazed at how many journalists are creative, but just can't 'deliver' on the basics."

What company do you work for?

I have my own - McLean Robbins Media, LLC - I do brand marketing and strategy consulting for a variety of B2B and B2C clients. I spend a good portion of my time with MBO Partners, a provider of services for the self-employed. My title there is Director of Content Strategy.

How did you get this job?

I get about 90% of my work through direct referral. MBO found me through my website.

How long have you been there?

I've had my company for about 10 years, but it was more "fake it til you make it" for those first few years, when I mainly touted my freelance writing expertise. I've been selling my current content strategy and brand marketing services since 2013.

What are your job responsibilities?

They vary day to day! On any given day, I'm working with MBO (they take up about 65% of my time) to manage activities like a website redesign, help craft marketing collateral for new products and services, writing op-eds for the CEO, or diving deep into SEO or analytics reports with one of the two team members I manage there. Outside of MBO, I'm managing a variety of projects. I may be working with clients to narrow down a scope or plan a training session in areas like writing and editing for the web or SEO, optimizing website copy, or pitching and writing for any of the luxury travel publications I work with on retainer. This summer, I'm also teaching a course at SCS - Brand Journalism!

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I've known for a very long time that I wanted to write - I told my high school creative writing teacher that someday I'd write a romance novel. I still believe I might, but it hasn't been my path - yet! I started out in writing and editing for trade magazines and freelancing in areas that I loved - fashion, spas, travel and luxury lifestyles. Thanks to the economic crash, I made the wise move (in my mind it was wise, anyway) over to a digital marketing agency where I learned the skills I use most frequently today - Search Engine Optimization and Content Strategy. I spent 5 years there while in grad school, working with hotel brands to create compelling website copy and digital experiences like blogs and social media, all while freelancing in the luxury travel space and going to school at night. In 2013, I started consulting with those same skills, building a business around my SEO, Content Strategy and Content Marketing skills. I kept writing as well, and today contribute to around a dozen regional national publications on a regular basis, mostly in the luxury travel space. Today, my business is busier than ever, and about 90% of my work is done through referral or traffic to my website. The best work has, and will hopefully continue to be, work that comes through my network.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I'm a native Washingtonian and had always wanted to attend Georgetown. The program was on the new side when I started in 2008, but I loved that I could gain practical experience in the field by working during the day and still get my degree by night.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

In addition to the fact that Georgetown is a well-respected name, there's a level of gravitas that you can bring to an interview or client with a graduate degree. I've been able to marry my journalism background with my marketing skills learned on the job to craft a career that lets me write but also help businesses achieve their marketing goals.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Several! I took a cross-listed SEO class, and learned a lot of skills that still apply today. Feature writing, data reporting, media law, and narrative nonfiction all come in handy, depending on what I'm trying to do that day.

What advice would you give current students?

Take courses that challenge you - video or audio courses, courses with a heavy data component, and courses cross-listed with marketing/PR, even if you think you'll move into writing and reporting full time. I always look for hires that have a variety of skills - it helps them be strategic thinkers about the best way to do execute a project or initiative.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

I did a digital series for AOL on what it took to build and market a new hotel - I profiled the property that is today the Rosewood in Georgetown. I didn't take formal video/audio/graphics classes, so I struggled to create multimedia content, which I knew I needed for the project to succeed. I spent a lot of time watching YouTube tutorials!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think many forget that they have to be their own publicist. So many brands move, fold, or shift focuses, and if you don't build your own "brand" separate from the publication, you can get lost in the shuffle. People want to hire someone who can do more than tell a story - they can also bring a following. This can have a dark side too - if you put something out there as a personal opinion that does't sit with the views of the publication, you could lose your job. It's about deciding when, how, and if you want to take a stand. I try to steer clear of sharing my opinions outside of the travel space, unless it's about something inconsequential, like what I thought about that latest episode of The Bachelor.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

I combined my passion for travel and my skills at marketing and business development and launched my own travel advising practice, Lily Pond Luxury. Think of me as a travel agent for the next generation - you'll get the honest scoop on destinations, hotels, and experiences and cut through the clutter of what is available online, but also great, beautiful content to spark your travel inspiration. I've been working with some awesome clients for the past 18 months but am just launching the website this summer. I think it's a great way to effectively be able to say to someone "yes, that story I just showed you is awesome - now here's how to do it perfectly tailored for you, without spending hours doing the DIY."

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

I fail at something at least once every day. If I didn't, I wouldn't be learning.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

Writing is hard, sometimes. Doing things right - sending in stories on time, doing a read through of your copy, and being thorough with your interviewing - is easy. I'm amazed at how many journalists are creative, but just can't "deliver" on the basics.

What do you do for fun? What are some of your favorite places in DC?

Not shocking, but I love to travel. I'm always planning my next trip - and if I can't plan one for myself, I plan for someone else. I was born in DC proper so I'm always amazed at how much the city has changed since I was a kid, but the museums and monuments still thrill me when I get a free Saturday. My hometown is Annapolis, and I love to go back when I can. The water is peaceful and I love spending time with my family, my husband, and my dog! Beyond that, I love a great coffee shop (Northside Social in Clarendon is my go-to) or time with friends!

Who is your dream person to interview?

I love horse racing, so I'd love to interview Bob Baffert, a top Thoroughbred trainer. He has trained so many great horses, including the most recent Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah.

What's something you're looking forward to in your career?

Every day is a new adventure. I'm not sure that I have a pinnacle moment as I wouldn't have predicted where I am today!

If you were a prize fighter, what song would play when you walked into the ring?

I have no idea - although that's a fun thing to think about. :)

Heather Brady (G '13)

February 2018

Alumna of the Month

Instagram/Twitter

Website: heatherlynnbrady.com

"Take every opportunity you can that comes your way, and be relentless, in your reporting and in your job search.

With enough hard work, you'll end up in really interesting and fabulous places."

Current Job Title:

Digital Producer

What company do you work for?

National Geographic

How did you get this job?

Through a recommendation from Emily Shenk Flory, who is also a Georgetown MPJO alumna!

How long have you been there?

Since August 2014, so about three and a half years

What are your job responsibilities?

I manage the homepage for nationalgeographic.com, help out with other distribution platforms, help advise for and produce content for branded and sponsored series, and write daily stories for the digital side of our editorial team.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I started my career at NPR, where I worked on the Arts and Life section of NPR.org; worked on Slate's data interactives desk; ran WTOP Radio's digital presence on weekends; spent one year working to improve the communications and digital presence of a local nonprofit; and ultimately landed at National Geographic after a lot of hard work (and a lot of applying).

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I loved how the professors were also professional journalists, bringing lessons from their jobs into the classroom for a dynamic and forward-thinking education in the field. i also loved how we were encouraged to intern and work while attending the program, so we were able to match up the skills we developed in class with the experiences we had in the field.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

It has helped me tackle new opportunities when they come up at work because I have a well-rounded skill set that I developed in the MPJO program, and it gave me the knowledge and connections I needed to succeed in the industry.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Derek Willis's Data Reporting class. It has pushed me to use more data in my reporting and writing, dive into the numbers behind stories and the numbers that tell stories, and it even inspired me to learn to code.

What advice would you give current students?

Take every opportunity you can that comes your way, and be relentless, in your reporting and in your job search. With enough hard work, you'll end up in really interesting and fabulous places.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

Learning to write longform! I was well-versed in daily news, but learning to write a long feature was really challenging. With a lot of work (and some really good advice and editing from my advisor), I was able to learn how to do the work required for that kind of piece to be successful, and ultimately published it.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

The constantly changing industry. Every day there is something new to learn, which is exciting, but it can also create a large workload. Finding balance is challenging, critical, and so important—being able to both handle your current job and grow in new ways as the industry changes.

Brag a little. What's something you're proud at having accomplished in the last year or two?

I was the digital lead manager for the Gender Revolution issue of National Geographic magazine, which published in January 2017. It was thrilling to be involved in every story and help guide the issue to success. We were named as finalists for explanatory reporting for the Pulitzer Prize, and I've never been prouder of the impact that my work has had globally.

What's a challenge you've faced and overcome?

When I was a senior in high school, I had worked incredibly hard to go to the college of my dreams, a particularly difficult school to get into in Virginia. Despite perfect grades, extracurriculars, and more effort on my part than I could possibly describe, I didn't get in. Up until that point, I had always thought that if I worked hard, I could achieve exactly what I wanted to do—and this was the first moment that I realized life does not always go according to plan. I wound up at a different college, one with stellar academics, where I learned how to live a balanced life and where I was introduced to journalism. It taught me that not everything in life goes according to plan, and that sometimes when you fail to achieve one thing, if you keep pressing forward, other amazing things that you may not have thought of can fall into place instead.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

How purpose-driven so many journalists are. People choose this career because they're passionate about it, a feeling that I share, and that shared purpose helps us work through the crazy hours and endure the tough competition in order to do what we love.

What do you do for fun? What are some of your favorite places in DC?

I do various forms of partner dancing (blues, fusion, tango, etc.) and run weekend-long festivals and events through Capital Blues, the blues dancing organization in the D.C. area. I also love browsing through the shelves of Riverby Books in Capitol Hill, grabbing an amazing cup of coffee from the Coffee Bar in Shaw, or hiking in Rock Creek Park.

Who is your dream person to interview?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I couldn't stop reading the recent profile of her in the New York Times. The example she has set—the way she balanced a demanding career with her life outside of work, and the legacy she has built for herself—makes me want to do more and go further, and helps me know it's possible to accomplish so much in . my life. I would love to do a deep-dive profile of her life (though this might be better suited for a biography...).

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have no idea, and I like that! Everything changes so quickly in the field now that five years from now, there will likely be opportunities I can't begin to dream up now. That said, I would like to write more, and I'm working now to make that happen in a bigger way.

If you were a prize fighter, what song would play when you walked into the ring?

Castle by Halsey. It reminds me of how driven I am and always makes me pumped to finish a difficult task.

Quintin J. Simmons (G '16)

January 2018

Alumnus of the Month

Instagram: @d.c._alum

Website: http://qsimmons.strikingly.com/

"If you made it this far, you belong."

Current Job Title:

Associate Editor

What company do you work for?

Tax Analysts

How did you get this job?

I started as a messenger, attending Capitol Hill hearings and legislation markups. I also had pickups at places like Treasury, IRS and Tax Court. My job was to retrieve any tax documents, or tax related news and bring it back to the office for one of the company’s many magazines or for the website. Now I edit content in the magazines.

How long have you been there?

15 years in April.

What are your job responsibilities?

I’ve been here so long so I’ve done just about everything and held several different positions. After my stint as a messenger, I worked as an editorial assistant. I reached out to various senators and congressional leaders when tax news broke, usually with the goal of obtaining a quote, a bill, or a news release. After that I was made managing editor of a specialty magazine called the Insurance Tax Review. It was a one man show, so it required a lot of work, but I loved it. Currently, I am the Associate Editor of State Tax Notes. It’s a commentary magazine with a focus on state tax issues. I seek out expert writers and authors, edit their submissions, go over writing styles with them, author copyrights, and potential topics. l work with these authors and our regular columnists from the day they submit an article until the day it appears in our magazine. STN is a weekly magazine and the recent tax reform legislation has been keeping us busy. On a given day I may be called on to edit, proof, review magazine galleys or boards, jump on a call to answer a question from one of our out-of-state authors, or explain an edit to one of our experts that isn’t quite sold on the whole notion of being edited.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

My first job in journalism was with the Washington Times as a weekend reporter on the Metro desk. It was mostly answering calls and conducting research. But not long after being there I got an opportunity to write my first professional byline. That led to another story and then another story. I quickly built a positive reputation without even realizing it. When a regular reporter wasn’t able to cover a story, the editors called on me and I was prepared to do the job.

Even at Tax Analysts, knowing very little about taxes, I was willing to start as a messenger; sometimes my job was to drive to the Hill to give one of our reporters a pack of batteries for his recorder. Eventually, editors were impressed by my dependability and learned that I had an undergrad degree in English/Journalism. They created a position for me that allowed me to use my education. Years later, I was given the opportunity to become an editor. I’ve been blessed enough to work with people that believed in my abilities and then they therefore took calculated risks on me. So much of my journey, so far, has been about me not wanting to disappoint the editors and colleagues who have provided me with opportunities. Another aspect of that journey has incorporated the mantra “stay ready.” At each of my stops, whenever I was called on, I was ready to step up and perform.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

While I have been doing journalism for over 15 years, when I started, there was no such thing as social media. I knew that there were tools that journalists use today that didn’t exist when I wrote my first article. I enrolled in Georgetown hoping that the program would enhance the skills I already had as a print reporter.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

Even before I received my degree, while still in Capstone, the Washington City Paper heard about my Capstone idea and expressed interest. After the class, I worked with the WCP to write a different, updated version of the piece. They published it! Since then, other editors and publications have reached out to me and asked me to write other stories. The Capstone class set it all in motion.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Covering Capitol Hill, with Paul Singer. On the last day of class, Singer told us that although the semester was over he would be our professor for life. He encouraged us to call on him. I took him up on that offer several times and he has remained helpful to me in my career. He’s met me on weekends when I needed an editor with fresh eyes and has put me in contact with other professionals. Even when trudging my way through Capstone, I called on Singer and Matt Apuzzo. I was pleasantly surprised and elated with how helpful both were and continue to be.

What advice would you give current students?

You’re in Georgetown. Not everyone who applies is accepted. If you made it this far, you belong. Also, use your past Georgetown professors as a sounding board. They are usually happy to help. The same can be said about your classmates. I was fortunate enough to take classes with a lot of friendly, intelligent students. Sometimes they can connect you with a source or offer advice.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

I covered a black church in D.C. that was dealing with gentrification as it partnered with a predominately white church in an effort to keep open the church doors. This was a sensitive topic to those in both parishes. As a result, it was rather difficult to convince people to speak with me on the record. I overcame it by being persistent. I made sure the members saw me in church. I explained that yes, it was for a grade, but I also wanted to tell their story. The pastors and member saw that I was sincere and they helped me. One pastor later contacted me about another story. I covered it and was able to get that published, too.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Not everyone who proclaims to be a journalist is a journalist. It takes more than a fiery opinion and an ability to write coherently. I think outfits like TMZ and Twitter, and blatantly biased coverage -- they all muddy the waters. People report news via those outlets, but reporting doesn’t necessarily make you a reporter. But readers and viewers often don’t know the legitimate journalists from the counterfeit. We need to separate ourselves by continuing to do great work.

What’s the most memorable thing you’ve worked on?

Last year I interviewed a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 30 years and spent a great deal of that time on death row. He spoke on some of the horrors of the penitentiary and the flagrant failings of the justice system. I am still amazed at his ability to not be bitter about his incarceration.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

As a younger reporter, I recall being surprised that the words I wrote at my desk would soon appear in print for the world to see. I realized that I had a responsibility to quote sources correctly, to be factual, and to be fair. I was surprised that it was easier to be the opposite of each of these things. Journalists and writers wield a great deal of power. I hadn’t considered that.

What do you do for fun?

I’m an animal lover and a motorcyclist. Reptile shows, zoos, aquariums, bike shows? Count me in!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have done print journalism for a long time. I would love to move to more of the communications side of journalism. Perhaps doing work in media relations or working as a press secretary.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

I'm so appreciative of my Georgetown degree; it was my second (and I think the last) Master's program. I also earned a Master's in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University in 2011. Obviously education is extremely important to me.

Mabinty Quarshie (G '16)

December 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram: @MabintyQ/@thatgirlbinty

"Do the job that no one wants to do, whether it’s a story or social or whatever. If there’s something people hate doing, you should do it. That’s how you become invaluable. "

Current Job Title:

Digital editor

What company do you work for?

USA TODAY

How did you get this job?

I was a part of a diverse group of digital editors on Facebook. I saw the posting and reached out to person who posted the job online. Then I applied for the job and the rest was history.

How long have you been there?

About a year and a half

What are your job responsibilities?

Wow it’s a lot. I work on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. I help out with some of the apple news alerts we send out. We have a nightly newsletter called the Short List that I help write on some days. Right now, I’m working on a few stories and projects for next year. I basically spend my day figuring out how to get our best stories into the world. When I have a moment I try to blog or report on a story.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I’ve spent most of my journalism career on the digital and social side figuring out how to help news organizations connect with online communities and with underserved communities. I basically think about who is not being served, what audiences are missing and how best can we reach them. People want the news and I try to think of creative ways to get our stories out there.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I knew I wanted to stay in the D.C. area so when I was doing research Georgetown felt like a good fit. Also, being able to work during the day and then go to school at night was a major part of why I wanted to go to Georgetown. I could get work experience and learn at the same time.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I wouldn’t have a job without this journalism program. I didn’t study journalism in undergrad. I basically came to Georgetown with green eyes. But I was able to learn so much in the program. I learned about news judgement, ethics and being digitally savvy.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

I want to say a class like digital reporting has helped me but the reality is my ethics class has helped me the most. I say that because in ethics class we used to talk about the ways that news organizations can cover communities in a not so ethical way. I think when we have editorial meetings at USA TODAY it’s been a benefit on my part to be able to point out how we can cover communities in a more humane, less harmful way. I think during the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign we had intense conversations about the way that Hillary Clinton was covered but ultimately I think just being able to recognize ways to better cover her, helped out the newsroom.

What advice would you give current students?

The truth is our industry is going through some tough times. I could say something today that could totally not make sense three months from now. But this is something I heard Chuck Todd tell students when I was a Meet the Press intern, so I’ll say it here. Do the job that no one wants to do, whether it’s a story or social or whatever. If there’s something people hate doing, you should do it. That’s how you become invaluable.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

I did a 40-hour internship while doing my capstone. I would not recommend that. It was hard and I was so tired all of the time. During that time I had to have serious time-planning skills and management. I had two planners and all of my time was mapped out. I didn’t get a lot of sleep but I got my capstone done, along with all of my revisions.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Journalism is in a crisis right now. We don’t truly have a sustainable money-making system in place. Every day I wake up and it seems like another news organization is getting shut down or doing layoffs. It’s tough to see all this happen.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

Last year I wrote a piece about why some women choose to identify as womanists and not feminists. I’m so proud of this story because last year there were lots of stories about feminism and the women’s march. But I was able to write about the ambivalence that some black women and women of color have felt about mainstream feminism. Again, when I think about reaching new audiences and covering underserved communities, I think this piece was a great way for USA TODAY to truly branch out and teach our readers about stories they might not have ever heard about before.

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

No matter how hard it is for the journalism industry, there are still people who care and who do the work because they believe in it deeply. Yes there is a lot to complain about but I’m moved by everyone’s passion and dedication to inform readers about what is happening in the world.

What do you do for fun?

I work a wonky schedule so anytime I get to spend with my loved ones, with my friends is fun. I also love to sleep lol.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

One, I hope that I will still be in journalism and that a more sustainable money-making system is in place. I hope that I will have better reporting and writing skills. I really love the DMV area so I have no plans on leaving this place. But I do hope that I am doing something that involves journalism, being creative that truly resonates with audiences. I hope that whatever it is I do will be beneficial to people’s lives.

Care to add anything you think We've missed?

Sometimes the fastest way into journalism isn’t through writing. My main job isn’t to write but yet here I am writing stories anyway. Just get your foot in the door.

Allison Lantero (G '13)

November 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter: @allisonlantero

"Not only did all the writing classes teach me to write a catchy lead and an engaging story, but the digital journalism class taught me about the best times to post on social media and how to best grow our following. Even our video class, which was definitely not my strong suit, helps me in my current position. "


Current Job Title:

Digital Content Creator

What company do you work for?

The U.S. Department of Energy.

How did you get this job?

During my time at Georgetown, I was in an internship program for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, which would then roll grad-degree holders into full-time federal positions. When I graduated, a friend at the Department of Energy suggested I talk to her boss, and eventually he offered me a job!

How long have you been there?

Almost 4 years.

What are your job responsibilities?

Writing blogs, co-hosting and producing our podcast, Direct Current, as well as keeping our twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds running.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

When I started at Georgetown, I had landed my Public Affairs position very serendipitously. In fact, my commencement speaker had called me out during our graduation ceremony and later offered me that job. Since then, I’ve worked in public affairs on the print and digital side, at the program level of one cabinet agency, and the secretarial level of two. I’ve launched a Facebook page, run multiple twitter chats, and even started a podcast that regularly hits the Top 10 in the Government and Organization charts on iTunes. My experience has taught me a lot about how to play to my strengths and not to be shy when I have an idea.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

The program I was hired for at the Department of Transportation required applicants to be grad students. So, after doing some soul searching, I realized what would best serve me was classes that improved my writing and introduced me to the world of journalism. At the Department of Transportation, I was in the office of Public Affairs, so I had the unique opportunity to learn about working in PR during the day and journalism at night.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

It’s helped in ways I would never have imagined. Not only did all the writing classes teach me to write a catchy lead and an engaging story, but the digital journalism class taught me about the best times to post on social media and how to best grow our following. Even our video class, which was definitely not my strong suit, helps me in my current position. I’m lucky enough to work with a videographer, but my basic knowledge camera angles, video storytelling and even Final Cut have come in handy in a pinch. In fact, when our office was between videographers, I shot and cut together a video on a Go-Pro: showcasing Cycle for Science, two women who’d biked across the country stopping only to teach science lessons at various schools and summer programs.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

The most obvious answer to this question is Digital Essentials. I learned about posting to the web, Search Engine Optimization or SEO, social media promotion and engagement: all things I use on a daily basis. But I honestly think all my classes at Georgetown helped shape the way I think about writing and storytelling.

What advice would you give current students?

Your professors and your fellow students are your greatest assets, appreciate them. I still keep in touch with some of my professors and classmates from grad school and I know if I asked they’d do anything to help me with a project or find a new job.

Also, ask lots of questions. I realize it’s cliché, but there really isn’t a dumb question, and journalism is all about letting your curiosity lead you.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

It was honestly picking and pitching the right story. I was really focused on finding a topic that I could stay interested in for the full semester, and my first two proposals actually got rejected. But when I finally landed on a story about two gentlemen in Connecticut who wanted to open an Irish American History Museum in D.C., I knew I’d found the one.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think it’s a terribly challenging time to be a journalism. Journalists face tight deadlines with the 24-hour news cycle, are expected to do more than just write, and each word they write or say is carefully scrutinized. I also think it can be really hard not to get sloppy as you race to the finish line. Lots of media outlets care about being “first” to a story, but in the end, I don’t think the public will remember who was first, but they certainly remember if you screw up.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

Hmm, that’s hard! It’s a toss-up between the very first episode of the podcast that I produced from start-to-finish, which was our episode on strengthening the power grid called Power to the People, or the three-part Manhattan Project series that was almost 6 months in the making. Firsts are always memorable, but the Manhattan Project series had more moving parts than I’d ever dealt with and we even got to travel down to Oak Ridge, TN to tour the facilities and interview a woman who’d worked on the calutron during WWII!

What surprised you most about working in the journalism/communications industry?

How much creative freedom there is! I currently work in the government, which is definitely not top of mind when people think of jobs with creative flexibility, but my co-workers and I have a lot of freedom to post things that are timely and relevant or get creative with videos and podcast episodes. I even wrote and performed an entire episode in the rhyme scheme of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”!

What do you do for fun?

I love listening to podcasts. Shocking, I know. I also sing in the St. Augustine Gospel Choir up on 15th and V St NW.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m actually currently applying to law school! So, I see myself as a lawyer, using the interviewing skills I learned at Georgetown, and what I learn in law school to have a direct impact on people’s lives. And I’m sure I’ll never stop writing.


Dara Elasfar (G '16)

October 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram: @delasfar

"I really think that without this program I wouldn’t be where I am today. Learning from the best and meeting students from all over the world who are trying to pursue this career with me is a blessing. The various workshops and tools including the great guidance from professors made me love this field even more."

Current Job Title: Editor for Snapchat and News Aide

What company do you work for? The Washington Post

How did you get this job? I had applied as an Editorial Aide in a different department through The Washington Post’s hiring site. I heard back from the manager and he said he would get back to me. Well one month later, I got back to him and he apologized and told me that position was filled but led me to the News Aide position and I got an interview!

How long have you been there? One year exactly

What are your job responsibilities? As a News Aide I work nights and weekends helping our newsroom get the paper out in the morning with the latest breaking news. The most interesting part of this position is that we have a partnership with a newspaper in Japan, in which I design a page with a layout of two stories and images that they publish daily. On Snapchat, I am part of the editorial team for our Discover story where we were the first to put breaking news out there. We choose and write stories that work best as one snap or a long form that you would swipe down on.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

In college, I took on several internships at television stations which is what I was typically interested in. I published my first article and with time I could get out there with a cameraman and ask the questions. But it was still hard for me to line up a position after college. After joining the journalism program at Georgetown, I had the opportunity to meet a director on one of our class trips and act as an Assistant Editor for a documentary. With that I met many people in the industry and through my capstone I was able to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a journalist.

After graduating I took on an entry level position as a News Aide and it was and still is an opportunity to open the door at an incredible newspaper. From there I took every single opportunity available to me, like picking up translation, asking to sit in meetings, attending Q&A’s, picking up extra shifts on heavy news days like election night, and getting to know the people I work with. In February, our Discover channel was launched on Snapchat and needed editorial help. That is when I stepped in and interviewed for the role in which I am now holding two different level positions and learning so much. I also pitched a story that I noticed everyone wrote but us and got my first byline on The Washington Post’s site.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program? I felt that being taught by the best journalists out there was the only way I was going to gain the confidence to find my voice in this field.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job? I really think that without this program I wouldn’t be where I am today. Learning from the best and meeting students from all over the world who are trying to pursue this career with me is a blessing. The various workshops and tools including the great guidance from professors made me love this field even more.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Reporting and News Writing because of the way it was taught. Dina Tilghman was incredibly helpful and honest with her feedback and it really helped me understand what story matters and what doesn’t.

What one piece of advice would you give current students? I am still working my way up and I have a long way to go. You have to start somewhere and take every single opportunity available to you.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it? I think the problem I had was trying to pin point the idea I wanted to get across. Or I would find an idea that could be simple but complicate it further. I think that it is something I am still working on but it gets easier. Talking to your colleagues or advisor really does help.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now? Well, nowadays there are a lot of challenges. To me, the challenge is that there are Americans who do not trust the media and this is not something new. I think journalists need to remember that and we need to figure out ways to see what the root of the problem is and change it.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

For now it would be my first byline for The Washington Post. Not because of the story but because I was sitting at home with a fever and saw that we did not publish a story about this ad. I just got up and started emailing many editors in the middle of the night and finally got to the right one and he told me to write it. In a moment where I wanted to pass out until I was healthy again, I found the courage to just do it.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world?

At how incredibly supportive and friendly journalists are, even when they are really busy breaking news.

What do you do for fun?

Anything laid back. So basically Netflix.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

That is hard because I started out wanting to be in the television industry and yet here I am in the print business. But I have grown to love it and I hope that I can continue to write in all forms, whether its social media, print and online. I’d like to focus on human interest stories and maybe even write about travel. Also, not working on weekends would be nice.

Byron Tau (G ’12)

September 2017

Alumnus of the Month

Twitter/Instagram: @byrontau

“In journalism, hustle beats smarts every time. Doesn’t matter how smart or writerly you are. As a reporter, the more calls you make, the more you expand your base of sources, the more hours you put into it, the better you are going to be.”

Current Job Title: Reporter with The Wall Street Journal

How did you get this job? I was covering lobbying and campaign finance at Politico and I saw an open job at the WSJ on the same beat. I applied, didn’t hear back and had almost forgotten about the application when I got a call out of the blue from the D.C. bureau chief several months later asking me if I was interested in covering politics and the White House for the WSJ. I made the jump.

How long have you been there? I left my job at Politico the day after the 2014 midterm election and have been at the WSJ ever since.

What are your job responsibilities? I cover Congress. Most of my energy these days is focused on the intelligence committees and the ongoing Russia investigation, but I also pitch in on the rest of our policy and politics coverage as it relates to what Congress is doing (or, more often, not doing.)

Please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now: Ben Smith, who is now at BuzzFeed, plucked me from behind the bar at the Cheesecake Factory and hired me to be his researcher at Politico. These days, I’m a reporter who has covered politics from lots of angles — I cut my teeth writing about local D.C. politics and have covered Congress, the White House, campaign finance, presidential and midterm elections and lobbying.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program? I packed up and drove to D.C. in 2008 knowing almost nobody, having no professional connections and with only a vague sense that I wanted to work in politics and journalism. A few internships and temp jobs later, I figured out that I wanted to be a reporter. Georgetown offered me a chance to go to school on a flexible schedule, and more importantly, gave me a lot of exposure to real working journalists or people that would soon become working journalists.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job? It made me a stronger writer, it exposed me to working journalists, it taught me a lot about how to use social media reporting and most importantly, it helped build a professional network of people in editing and writing jobs all over D.C.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated? When I started in the program in 2008, journalism was in the middle of a major crisis. Along with the stress of the great recession, classified advertising was really drying up. Several classes at Georgetown taught me the economics of the business, which is something that most reporters don’t think about day to day.

What one piece of advice would you give current students? In journalism, hustle beats smarts every time. Doesn’t matter how smart or writerly you are. As a reporter, the more calls you make, the more you expand your base of sources, the more hours you put into it, the better you are going to be.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it? At the time, I had a full-time job at Politico, so time-management and avoiding procrastination were major challenges. But there’s nothing like a looming deadline to get you working. (This is terrible advice, I know…. but that’s how it is in the working world. Nothing will motivate you like a deadline)

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now? I think the biggest challenge for reporters, especially political reporters, is filtering out what are important stories and trends from what is frivolous nonsense that is dominating the Internet in any given hour. The web and social media have their advantage and charms, but too often what people are talking about online is something dumb that will be totally forgotten tomorrow. It’s important to keep an eye on the big picture, the big trends and the big stories.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why? This makes me feel sorta bad because we were basically riffing through his stolen emails, but I published a piece about how John Podesta and the Blink 182 singer were collaborating on a project related to the truth about UFOs that got more readers that probably anything I’ve ever written at the WSJ.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world? I guess what’s most surprising is that with all the so-called changes in journalism, it hasn’t changed all that much from 50 or 100 years ago. A handful of news outlets are still responsible for the vast majority of newsgathering in the world and they’re the same ones that were doing it 50 years ago: the TV networks, the big newspapers, the wire services. The big trends are the rise of cable, the sad decline of local news (especially local newspapers) and the rise of speciality press (trade publications, industry news, etc). But when it comes to who breaks all the news, who does the news-gathering and what makes a good story, the web hasn’t really changed much.

What do you do for fun? I took up running and chess in the last year. I’ve made it a priority to read a lot books this year. I’m trying to watch more TV. I just finished the old Twin Peaks and now I’m in the middle of this Israeli show called “Fauda” which is a gripping terrorism drama. I try to enjoy as much of life in D.C. — going out, seeing friends, enjoying the restaurants and the parks and the bars.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I would love to move in a more investigative direction — work on a small number of high impact stories involving documents. Either that, or write a nonfiction book or two. Maybe in the next five years!

Catherine Trifiletti (G’15)

August 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram: @cathtrif/@cathtrifslan

“The program gave me the confidence I needed to move forward in the journalism field. Now being a writer, I realize how rare it is to get one on one attention from an editor. Thinking about it makes me miss my doting professors!”

Rounding out our alumni features for the summer is Catherine Trifiletti, Associate Editor at Washington Life Magazine. Find out her “aha moment” for enrolling in the Georgetown Journalism program, and how our Field Reporting course has made a difference in her career.

Current Job Title: Associate Editor

What company do you work for? Washington Life Magazine

How did you get this job?

While finishing up the journalism program I stalked local publication job listings directly from their websites and found the position at Washington Life. I interned during my last semester and when they had a full-time role become available, I was perfectly positioned to step up.

How long have you been there?

Not including the three month internship, it has been a year and a half.

What are your job responsibilities?

I wear many different hats because we are such a small team (small, but mighty*). I write about food, art, fashion and many things in between, edit stories by my colleagues and columnists, contribute to social media, coordinate and direct monthly fashion shoots, manage our event coverage and cover happenings around town.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I was working at a law firm in a 9-5 capacity where everyday in my windowless office was the same, and I thought like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” “There must be more to this [monotonous] life.” It took some time to pinpoint where my strengths and interests intersected, but ultimately I decided that listening to people and telling their stories was my calling.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

Besides seriously tightening and polishing my writing skills, the program gave me the confidence I needed to move forward in the journalism field. Now being a writer, I realize how rare it is to get one on one attention from an editor. Thinking about it makes me miss my doting professors!

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Field Reporting was insanely awesome and challenging. The premise of the class is getting students out of their comfort zones to find a story and a small group of us spent five days sourcing and producing the majority of our content. The oft-used term “boots on the ground” reporting came to light on this trip. My topic completely changed once I began talking to the locals in New Mexico and I went from researching Native American wedding traditions to exploring the micro economy that had sprung up as a result of the hit show “Breaking Bad” being filmed in Albuquerque.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Meet anyone and everyone you possibly can. Don’t write off an event or opportunity to network as a waste of time. Even if you have just chatted with one person, you have created a new in-road that previously didn’t exist. Over time as that network builds you will see the benefit and power of numbers.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

My challenge was navigating my source, who was a young male graffiti writer not exactly on a straight and narrow path. I had to constantly toe the line between friend and journalist to earn his trust and make him feel comfortable when I was around.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I think the saturation of news and the overwhelming number of platforms from which we get our information about the world. There is so much content bombarding us at all times that the quality of it all is undoubtedly at risk. Also, I find the rapidly evolving, non-linear journey ahead of journalists to be daunting.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

I recently had the honor of interviewing Dr. Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence for National Geographic, and a living legend for the work she has done to preserve the oceans. Being in the presence of such an iconic female with so much passion was beyond inspiring. At a time when the oceans are in serious peril, I was completely floored by her persisting optimism. She refuses to dwell on the negative (ie. warming climate), instead choosing to focus on what we can do now to reverse the damage that has already been done.

Chealsea Carter (G’15)

July 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram: @Chealsea_C

Personal Website

“I believe the issue that journalists face the most is being the first one to get the story out there more so than making sure the story is accurate. It’s not just the written content either. Whether it’s video, graphic animation, or a statistic, all of it should be accurate and fair. I find myself, throughout the entire day, fact checking, attributing, and making sure the story is ethical as possible.”

Our July alumna of the month is Chealsea Carter, a Broadcast Journalist for RT America. Chealsea shares valuable insights on the power of developing your personal brand, which classes have made the biggest difference in her journalist career, and pitching a successful story for the Capstone course. Be sure to watch her favorite piece published so far, linked in her interview below.

Current Job Title: Broadcast Journalist

What company do you work for? RT America

How did you get this job?

I literally applied on Indeed.com, and a few interviews later, I was hired.

What are your job responsibilities?

My day to day responsibilities include a plethora of things. I mainly work on the 4pm and 5pm News casts as well as the News with Ed Schultz. My primary responsibility is working on The Resident which is a commentary segment that airs every day. However, throughout the day, I associate produce packages or live hits for a number of correspondents that are either in our DC, New York, Miami, or Los Angeles bureaus and sometimes international. This includes everything from ordering graphics and b-roll to finally editing the finished product every day.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Before I had even finished my undergraduate career, I was accepted into the Journalism program at Georgetown. Yet, at the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue school or begin the job hunt. It was actually my visit to the graduate campus that solidified my decision. I had the chance to sit in on a video journalism course and get the feel of how graduate school actually worked. I knew after that simple visit that I wanted to continue my education and hone my skills in video journalism but also as an aspiring journalist.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

Everything that I learned from video editing to coding has helped me every single day. I video edit and write every day and pitch stories every week, and I can truly say I’m every bit better because of the journalism program.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

The course that helped me the most after I graduated, and probably my favorite course, would have to be video journalism with Whitney Shefte. I learned so much from her and Zan from setting up interview shots and letting the b-roll breathe, to sequencing and most importantly telling an impactful story.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

I actually have two pieces of advice.

  1. Discover your brand and showcase it.

When I was in the program, I started to realize that I had done so much work from print, radio, video, and photography but had no platform to show it. I had seen some websites of friends showcasing their work and decided I wanted to create one. Now, this isn’t to say that you have to create a website to display your work. Some people have blogs or YouTube or Vimeo channels. However, I wanted something cohesive that displayed all of my work at the click of a button. You would be surprised how much having a website or a platform with all of your work makes a difference. Actually, my last semester, I interned at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), and learned one of the main reasons that I was selected was because I had a website, and no one else did.

  1. Stay connected

It seems as if this comes up frequently, but staying connected is invaluable. Just sending an email or text or catching up for lunch or brunch can actually go a long way. Your instructors are literally working in the field and have so much advice to give as well as connections. The same goes for you classmates. Stay in touch! Get each other’s numbers, Facebook or Twitter.

If you could go back on your Capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

Before even starting the class, the greatest challenge I had was getting the proposal to the acceptance phase. Originally, the story idea I had pitched was turned down because someone had already done that piece. It’s unfortunate because you don’t know what stories have been done, and basically, your Capstone is left to chance. However, Tom Mattesky, who was my instructor at the time, was very helpful and wanted me to find a story that I felt passionate about telling. I had a few weeks to come up with a whole new story and also a proposal. That proposal was rejected, and I had either the chance of tweaking the proposal or starting from scratch. Literally, the next day, I sent the instructor an email saying Plan C because I had another story I really wanted to do, and the person had responded to me with the OK to work with me. Once again, I went back the drawing board, worked with the instructor, researched, and put the proposal together. This time it was accepted. I guess the third time really is a charm. Seriously, I prayed and stayed positive about working on the Capstone and persevered through it. There will always be times of rejection, but you must stay strong, regroup, and keep focus if you really want to accomplish something that you’re passionate about.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

I still believe the issue that journalists face the most is being the first one to get the story out there more so than making sure the story is accurate. It’s not just the written content either. Whether it’s video, graphic animation, or a statistic, all of it should be accurate and fair. I find myself, throughout the entire day, fact checking, attributing, and making sure the story is ethical as possible.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

I would say the most memorable piece that I’ve worked on was a special called“Systemic Injustice” that I associate produced. I had the chance to see it from being outlined on paper to it airing nationally and internationally and published on YouTube. The experience that I gained from ordering graphic animations and figuring out guests to envisioning what it would look like logistically, has only made me a more thorough journalist in terms of gathering all the elements to tell a story but also address an everyday issue.

If you would like to check it out, here’s the link.

What do you do for fun?

I love napping, always have, always will. I also love hanging out with family and friends and of course traveling.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have left that part of my life open for the time being, but I have thought about going into media law, specifically with emphasis in entertainment.

Leah Freeman (G’16)

June 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter: @leahfreem

“One of the reasons that I think I’ve been able to work at such incredible places at a young age is that I’m always willing to try different positions in the newsroom and I rarely say no to a shift whether it be on my weekend or a holiday. It’s given me the chance to learn so much more than I would have remaining stagnant in one spot in the newsroom.”

Get to know Leah Freeman, Assignment Editor at CNN and our June alumna of the month! Leah shares insights on the pace of a journalism career, and why being flexible is key to succeeding in the field. Learn more in her interview below.

Current Job Title:

Assignment Editor

What company do you work for?

CNN

How did you get this job?

I had worked at Fox News previously and when the position at CNN opened up, a colleague of mine suggested me for the position. I went through the interview process and the rest is history.

How long have you been there?

I’ve worked at CNN for almost a year and a half.

What are your job responsibilities?

The job of an Assignment Editor changes daily. For almost a year, I was working as a Lives Producer on the Assignment Desk. That job entails discussing with the show teams their needs for their hour and then working directly with the reporters to get them on-air for hits. I’d also monitor our air and work in breaking news settings to get reporting on air. I acted as one of the main contacts to the control room for new editorial, feed updates, etc. More recently, I’ve started working on the planning side of things and CNN’s daily coverage.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

Since moving to DC right after graduating from college, I’ve interned at PBS and the Pulitzer Center while attending Georgetown. I then moved on to jobs at Fox News and now CNN. One of the reasons that I think I’ve been able to work at such incredible places at a young age is that I’m always willing to try different positions in the newsroom and I rarely say no to a shift whether it be on my weekend or a holiday. It’s given me the chance to learn so much more than I would have remaining stagnant in one spot in the newsroom. I’ve always wanted to keep moving forward and move to the places willing to give me the most experience.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

One of the main reasons that I chose Georgetown was because I knew that I wanted to be in D.C., right smack dab in the middle of the action where the journalism market is thriving. When I was in the middle of the process of choosing a graduate program, I was also selected for an internship in DC at PBS. Between Georgetown’s reputation and location combined with my internship offer, I knew it was the right choice.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

My favorite class, the one I found most compelling and applicable to my everyday work was Political Journalism. It was taught by two fantastic journalists including my now colleague, CNN’s Political Director David Chalian, and Brooke Bower, formerly at MSNBC and now also a colleague of mine at CNN. The assignments in that class allowed us to work with real information because the election was on-going. Students did their own reporting and I knew that we were learning from the best.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

A piece of advice that I would give to students looking to work in journalism: don’t expect it to be easy and know that everyone has to pay their dues. You will work weekends, holidays, crazy hours, and overnight shifts. These are things that everyone has to do. I’ve been working weekend shifts for two years. The field you’ve chosen requires you to be incredibly flexible and focused so don’t expect to get there without making some sacrifices. It will be worth it!

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

Capstone was incredibly difficult for me. The format and requirements did not, in my opinion, speak to what journalists do day-to-day. It seemed more like a long form local human interest piece. I think the one thing that helped me was finding a topic that I was interested in and continuing to defend what I saw as the story.

What is the primary challenge facing journalists now?

Right now I think the biggest challenge journalists face is finding their way with the new administration. How much access will they be given compared to other administrations? Because our POTUS has continued to point the finger at news media for being biased or incorrect, it is that much more important to churn out accurate, balanced reporting.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world?

I’ve been surprised at what great friendships I’ve made with my co-workers. Going into journalism and the newsroom environment, I expected something a bit more cut-throat. I’ve been very fortunate to build supportive, collaborative relationships with the people I work with.

What do you do for fun?

For fun, I love going to the movies. It’s such a relaxing yet glamorous experience.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I’d like to see myself transitioning into more of a media relations/communications driven role.

Jefferson James (G’15)

May 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram: jeffersonstweet/jeffersonsgram

“The most valuable advice I could offer current students would be to step outside of their comfort zones. For instance, I’d encourage them to take classes and join organizations even beyond their primary interests because you never know what might spark a new passion or expand your network of connections.”

This May, we proudly feature Jefferson James as our alumna of the month. Jefferson currently works at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) in a role that involves research, copy editing, interviewing and traveling to Embassies and Consulates around the world. Prior to working with the DOS and attending Georgetown, Jefferson served in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence agent. In her interview below, read some of Jefferson’s insights on the journalism program, including tips for current students, Capstone advice, and why Field Reporting was her favorite course at Georgetown.

Current Job Title:

I am a Communications Analyst.

What company do you work for?

I work for the Department of State (DOS).

How did you get this job?

As my graduation date approached, I began exploring career opportunities by researching online and networking with former colleagues and classmates. I updated my resume and online platforms with relevant coursework and experience from Georgetown and applied to any positions that seemed interesting. Before long, I started receiving calls, interviews and offers.

How long have you been there?

I have been with DOS since March 2015.

What are your job responsibilities?

In addition to working out of various DOS offices here in Washington, D.C., my position requires that I travel to U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world. This means that depending on my location, my responsibilities change. Generally, I assist in the reporting of issues that are of interest to the U.S. government. This includes tasks such as researching topics, interviewing sources, writing, and copyediting. Most recently, I’ve been working at the U.S. Embassy, Saudi Arabia, supporting the Political/Military office, on a team focused on women’s rights.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I have always had a passion for journalism, but the path towards making it my career has been one of many twists and turns. I have served in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence analyst, worked in the government/contracting sector in communications, and freelanced in different journalism beats. Along the way I’ve studied at numerous schools, honing in on various specialties, from research and analysis to mass media and broadcasting. I’ve always tried to take advantage of whatever circumstances I find myself in as an opportunity to create experiences that relate to what I want to do. Briefing a military flight on an operations floor can be like delivering the news in a studio; drafting a consular cable can be similar to writing a newspaper article… it’s all about perspective. So while my journey goes on, I’ll continue to look for the not-so-obvious journalism experiences.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I chose Georgetown’s Journalism program because of the networking opportunities, the reputation and industry experience of the professors, and the flexibility to take classes in the evenings while interning or working during the day.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I believe my degree from Georgetown’s Journalism program gave me a competitive edge when applying for jobs. Since securing my position, I’ve been able to apply some of my classroom experiences to my day-to-day operations in the real-world.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

One of my favorite Georgetown classes was Field Reporting, and it definitely stands out as the most beneficial in preparing me for my current job. In Field Reporting, I learned to be prepared for anything, to overcome the challenges of reporting in unfamiliar surroundings, and to transcend cultural differences to get to the heart of a story.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

The most valuable advice I could offer current students would be to step outside of their comfort zones. For instance, I’d encourage them to take classes and join organizations even beyond their primary interests because you never know what might spark a new passion or expand your network of connections.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

The greatest challenge I experienced in my capstone class was conforming aspects of the process, such as timeline or format, to the parameters of the class. Overcoming this was a matter of remembering that in journalism, there may be times when you have to modify your ideas to fit the needs of your organization, boss, or audience. It was a good lesson on being flexible and finding ways to compromise.

What is the primary challenge facing journalists now?

With the accessibility of more and more platforms to showcase blogs, videos, podcasts, etc., it seems that anyone can claim to be a journalist. I think the primary challenge facing the profession today is establishing yourself as a credible journalist, who is dedicated to learning the craft and following the code of ethics to produce valuable work.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

The most memorable piece I’ve published was a story about the juxtaposition of a niche of the transgender community in D.C.’s Chinatown. This was one of my first human interest works, so it really taught me the importance of character development in telling a story.

What do you do for fun?

I love to travel! Exploring new places, becoming immersed in different cultures, and meeting new people has always been appealing to me, and one of the things that attracts me to the journalism field. I feel very fortunate to be in a career field that allows me to fill my passport with new adventures.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Within the next five years, I’d like to transition from the government sector to the more traditional side of journalism. I see myself working in the industry, possibly as a news anchor or field reporter on international, cultural, or human interest stories.

Arielle Hixson (G’13)

April 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter/Instagram handle: @ArielleHixson

Website: www.ArielleHixson.com

“In the real world sometimes the passion of journalism is lost and what’s important becomes deadlines, awards and sweeps. It’s important to hang onto the thrill of the story instead of getting wrapped up in the importance of ratings.”

We’re excited to feature Arielle Hixson of Channel One News as our April alumna of the month. Arielle is a seasoned journalist in all mediums of the craft, from print, digital to broadcast. She has a passion for longform journalism, which she gets to explore as an Anchor/Reporter at Channel One News, a daily news program that encourages young people to become informed, global citizens. In her interview below, Arielle shares some of her most memorable stories to date, including covering national events, interviewing with figures like Misty Copeland, and more.

Current Job Title: Anchor/Reporter

What company do you work for? Channel One News

How did you get this job? I went through a rigorous camera/writing test to be selected as a reporter for one of the top educational news network nationwide.

How long have you been there? 2 years

What are your job responsibilities?

  • Host & write daily news show seen by 6 million students nationwide
  • Report on national and international news topics on a daily basis
  • Travel worldwide for breaking and longform stories
  • Edit top news stories with Avid Editor
  • Shoot top news stories and sit-down interviews

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

Throughout my undergraduate and graduate career I had internships at some of the leading print, digital and broadcast news networks in the country. This included CosmoGirl, AOL, PBS, ABC NewsOne, Fox 5 and NBC Washington. I also had the opportunity to work as a National Press Intern for the White House in fall 2012. After that internship I worked as a Field Producer and then an Associate Producer at NBC before working as a Reporter at Channel One News. My prior experience has enabled me to become a confident journalist flexible with reporting a variety of stories across the country.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I graduated Wesleyan University cume laude in Psychology and although I initially wanted to be a psychologist, I learned through various internships that I had a passion for journalism and storytelling. I wanted to go to a graduate program that challenged me in print, digital and broadcast journalism while giving me the opportunity to have career experience at one of the biggest journalism hubs in the US, Washington D.C.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I believe my degree from Georgetown Journalism program has enabled me to be flexible with all three mediums (print, digital and broadcast) and has inspired me to have a passion for telling longform journalism stories across the country. This has helped me from breaking news coverage to my Hurricane Katrina or Pearl Harbor three part series.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

I would say the Introduction to broadcast journalism class. This taught me how to shoot various styles with an XD Camera, arrange lighting for high-profile interviews and edit packages with Final Cut Pro. Introduction to broadcast journalism gave me the foundation for my career and helped me become comfortable in my first job as a Field Producer at NBC News. I would say even if you are not interested in going into broadcast journalism, it’s important to take this class just to understand and become well versed with using a camera to get the story.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Always remember WHY you want to get involved with journalism. What is your passion? What drove you to get involved with telling countless stories of individuals worldwide? Sometimes that passion alone is what can make you the most compelling journalist in the real world and can determine just how far you can take a story.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

My capstone was a broadcast piece on online dating. I would say the greatest challenge was time; keeping track of all of my interviewees and finding the best locations to interview them that was the most appropriate for the piece. Even today I would say booking for an interview can be one of the hardest parts of producing a story.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

The biggest challenge is remaining ethical and keeping journalism, journalism. These days there are tons of blogs and fake news sites that report incorrect information to the public that could have dire consequences. The first thing I learned at Georgetown through my ethics class is how important it is to remain unbiased and go to the furthest length just to report the FACTS. We need to hold on to those values as journalists to differentiate us from those that are tainting the truth.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

The most memorable piece was my one-on-one interview with Misty Copeland. I interviewed her about “Project Plie,” an initiative with the American Ballet Theater to get more students of color interested in ballet. It was incredible to not only hear Misty Copeland’s story first-hand but to talk to young students involved with Project Plie whose lives were changed just by one influential young woman.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world?

In the real world sometimes the passion of journalism is lost and what’s important becomes deadlines, awards and sweeps. It’s important to hang onto the thrill of the story instead of getting wrapped up in the importance of ratings.

What do you do for fun?

In my spare time I love going to the movies, dancing, traveling, doing arts and crafts and reading a great book.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I hope that I will continue to be a host/reporter for one of the leading broadcast networks in the country.


Amel Guettatfi (G’16)

March 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter: @AGuettatfi

“I’d suggest capstone students think deeply about the medium they use. Pitching a written piece is easier than convincing a producer to take your video. A good editor can help you shape an article for their publication more than a video editor can with a film that’s already been shot.”

We’re proud to feature Amel Guettatfi as our March alumna of the month. A self-proclaimed “swiss-army knife” journalist, Amel honed a range of skills – from scripting, writing, editing, filming – during her time at Georgetown. She’s now applying her skills to the workplace as a Researcher for VICE News Tonight. In the future, she hopes to do more international work and writing. Learn more about Amel in her interview below.

Current Job Title: Researcher at VICE News Tonight on HBO

What company do you work for? VICE News on HBO

How did you get this job?

I saw a notice for a job for a new flagship nightly show made by VICE News on LinkedIn and applied immediately.

How long have you been there?

Almost six months

What are your job responsibilities?

I work on investigative pieces as well as long-term pieces that require more digging than usual. Whenever there’s an issue that requires in depth analysis, I’m usually there. I also pitch stories, domestic and international. We have an opportunity in a new platform like this one to explore uncharted territories and I try to pitch to that.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I’m a “swiss-army” journalist that can shoot, edit, script video pieces, write enterprise articles and and record and edit audio pieces. I worked at a small local TV station and helped it move online when I lived in the UK. I also interned at Al Jazeera and the Guardian. When I moved to DC, I got a chance to work with Emmy-award winning investigative producer Laura Strickler at CBS News. There’s isn’t a day at my job now that I don’t use a skill she taught me. That combined with my language skills is helping me carve out a niche intersection of investigative in depth and international journalism.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I wanted to be taught by practicing journalists getting an education that was current and full of discussion about how to produce strong journalism now and not in theory. I also tempted by the Field Reporting class offered when I was in the program.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I recently pitched a story about a Native American issue that we just shot and finished editing that was inspired by the field reporting trip I took with Doug Mitchell to Indian Country. That class instilled in me a sense of responsibility to tell under-covered stories not just internationally but nationally as well.

What is class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Data reporting gave me a solid understanding of not only how to use SQL databases and excel spreadsheets but Steven Rich, the instructor was very good at contextualizing all the data that is already publicly available and how to get it. I now rely heavily on that knowledge to figure out how to get information we need, especially when it isn’t obvious right off the bat what agency to pester for it.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Learn as many skills as possible but pick a few that you can excel at that make you a unique asset. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to your instructors for advice. Ryan Teague Beckwith of News Writing and Reporting helped me make the decision to move to my current job even after I had graduated.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

My main character was a mother who lost her then 18-year old son to a drive-by police shooting. Convincing her to speak to me was challenging. I didn’t get her on camera until the Saturday before our draft deadline in what was one of my most stressful grad-school moments. There isn’t a magical formula to getting people to talk but it helps if you’re genuine and in my case clearly desperate. At one point, in the last two week leading up to the deadline, I called her lawyer’s office twice a day every day but was extremely friendly to compensate for how annoying my calls were getting. Be persistent but reasonable.

I’d also suggest capstone students think deeply about the medium they use. Pitching a written piece is easier than convincing a producer to take your video. A good editor can help you shape an article for their publication more than a video editor can with a film that’s already been shot.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

The native American story that’s upcoming is by far my favorite story recently. Another one is a criminal justice story I worked for six month at CBS about a series of preventable deaths happening in jails across the country, with one common factor: the same private “discount” medical provider. It was a lot of work, much of it sifting through court documents but the end result was rewarding, especially when one of the victims’ relatives told us how validated they felt.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world?

In a classroom you have the luxury of over-analysis. You get to consider every aspect of what you’re doing, in the field you hope you have the right instincts and are doing the story justice. But you certainly don’t have a chance to dissect the same way you do in an academic environment.

What do you do for fun?

When I have some time to myself, I like to be in nature.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’d like to be working more deeply on stories that combine investigative elements and international journalism. My favorite medium will always be documentary but I’d also like to be writing more.


Ariel Plasencia (G’15)

February 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter: @ariel_plasencia

“Take advantage of all the internships Washington, D.C. has to offer. Even though I didn’t pursue a career in print journalism immediately after graduate school, [my internships] helped me improve my writing, which I use everyday when preparing for my show and live shots.”

We’re proud to feature Ariel Plasencia as our alumna of the month. She’s currently based in Greenville, North Carolina where she anchors and reports for WITN. Just a few short years after graduating, Ariel has had the opportunity cover meaningful and interesting stories for her network. Here’s her insights and tips on making the most of your graduate school experience in the capital city.

Current Job Title: Noon Anchor & Reporter

What company do you work for? WITN, the NBC affiliate in Greenville, NC

How did you get this job? Applied online

How long have you been there? A year and a half

What are your job responsibilities?

I solo anchor WITN News at Noon, Monday through Friday. After the show, I shoot video and interviews. I then edit my video in Edius and give live reports during the 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. newscasts with a TVU.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

The program’s location in Washington, D.C. was extremely attractive to me. D.C. is an incredible city with tons of opportunities for young journalists. It’s home to a handful of professional sports teams that I enjoyed covering through my internship with WUSA9 during graduate school.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

My undergraduate degree is in mathematics, so getting my masters in journalism from Georgetown University allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming an anchor/reporter.

What is a class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

I always borrowed one of the larger cameras from the Digital Media Center and used it for my Video Journalism class. Using that camera was instrumental in teaching me how to shoot video. That camera is very similar to the one I use now at WITN so having that prior experience made the transition to my new job extremely smooth.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Take advantage of all the internships Washington, D.C. has to offer. Even though I didn’t pursue a career in print journalism immediately after graduate school, my time with the food desk at Northern Virginia Magazine helped me improve my writing, which I use everyday when preparing for my show and live shots.

If you could go back to your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

The earlier you can find someone who is willing to be the main character of your capstone, the better. Make sure they are cooperative, communicative and available. And be willing to let them dictate where your story goes.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Some viewers do not trust the media, which makes it extremely important to make sure all your facts are 100 percent correct and verified.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

I’ve had the opportunity to cover such a wide range of stories, and I’m grateful for the experience and lessons I’ve learned from each one. Some memorable ones include Hurricane Matthew, Hillary Clinton’s only campaign stop in Eastern Carolina, a ride-along with the Greenville Police Department, the arrival of a new minor league baseball team called the “Down East Wood Ducks,” and a charity breakfast where I ate pancakes during my live report.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world?

Time is never on your side. The day moves quickly, so my goal is to ask intelligent questions quickly during interviews and think ahead – while I’m shooting video, I try to envision how I’ll edit it later so I can get the shots I need.

What do you do for fun?

I love traveling with my husband. North Carolina is an incredible state – drive two hours east and you’ll hit the beach with gorgeous lighthouses and wild horses. Drive four hours west and you’ve got mountains with incredible hiking and cool breweries.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Walking my pug with my husband to a restaurant known for its delicious cheeseburgers. And telling unique and compelling stories with my camera.


Amy DeLong (G’15)

January 2017

Alumna of the Month

Twitter: @Amy_DeLong

“If you lose yourself in your work, then you know you’ve found your vocation. I think the best way to find work that’s right for you is to do what you’re good at and passionate about, continuously learn and evolve, and opportunity will follow naturally.”

Our January alumna of the month is Amy DeLong. Before Amy started Georgetown’s MPS Journalism program, she was a history major in undergrad, and wanted to gain hands-on internship experience and pursue challenging courses that would make her think out of the box. 2016 was a year of focus for Amy as she’s working on publishing a novel. Check out Amy’s interview for insights on balancing journalism’s ever evolving industry and and her advice to students on making the most of your time at Georgetown.

Current Job Title: Novelist, Essayist, Historian

How did you get this job?

If you lose yourself in your work, then you know you’ve found your vocation. I think the best way to find work that’s right for you is to do what you’re good at and passionate about, continuously learn and evolve, and opportunity will follow naturally.

Personally, I started my career as a history major in college. Majoring in history taught me to think critically, examine sources, and notice and explain trends and forces that shape the world we live in. I pursued a master’s degree in journalism because I wanted to expand upon these skills. After graduation from Georgetown, my husband’s career moved us to a remote location for two years. For me, this was a great opportunity to pursue different forms of writing, specifically the novel and essay.

What are your job responsibilities?

Ultimately, I am responsible to myself. When I’m writing a novel, I write between 500 and 2,000 words a day. I’ve always had an energetic and self-motivated personality.

In a paragraph or two, please give us your “elevator speech” about the jobs you’ve held and what you’ve done to get to where you are now.

I am currently a writer working on my debut novel. I hold a B.A. in History from Rhodes College, and an M.P.S. in Journalism from Georgetown University. I started my career as an historian, with a fellowship in college to research and write about the intersection of religion and history in Memphis, Tennessee. After college I accepted a position as an Archivist at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where I participated in the agency’s management training program and specialized in the John F. Kennedy Administration. During graduate school at Georgetown, I completed three internships in various aspects of publishing– academic publishing, book publishing, and magazine publishing. After completing the master’s degree program at Georgetown, my husband’s career moved us to a remote location, where I wrote my first novel.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

Georgetown’s Journalism program offers the best of both worlds– courses taught by respected journalists and media leaders, and the flexibility of schedule which allows students to pursue experience through internships or jobs during the day. Both aspects of education are important– the practical and the reflective. The greatest strength of Georgetown’s program is its flexibility. You will get out of the program what you put into it.

How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

I use the skills I developed during the journalism program nearly every day. Reporting develops an ear and memory for dialogue, essential for any writer. Good writers have an intuition for the universal themes at the heart of any story. They also have an understanding of people and psychology of the characters they are dealing with. Above all one must understand the industry.

What is the class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

The courses that I think back to most often contained two elements– challenging coursework, and faculty and guest speakers who provided a way to understand the subject matter in greater depth and breadth. Linda Kramer Jenning’s, The Art of Interviewing challenged me to become more bold and nimble in my interviewing style. Ryan Lizza’s course on Feature Writing changed the way I approached interviews and thinking about story development. The lessons you learn can hit you immediately, but sometimes it takes months or years to realize what you have learned.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

View your education as an investment in yourself. If you do so, you’ll reap the benefits far into the future. Have a clear vision of the reasons you are pursuing graduate education and understand what you want to gain from the program. Graduate school is a vehicle for change. Stay true to yourself and your own aspirations in the process.

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

My greatest challenge during capstone was planning a move to a place I had never been, and moving the week after graduation. I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. But we rise to meet the challenges presented to us in life.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

My novel is still in the process of being published. The most memorable piece I’ve published thus far was in undergrad. I earned a fellowship through Rhodes College to spend a summer researching and writing the history of Catholic involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, working in conjunction with a faculty advisor. I ended up winning the first place writing prize for the fellowship program, presenting the paper at multiple conferences, and publishing my work in an academic journal. The process of researching and writing my own original work sparked an interest in me that remains to this day.

What do you do for fun?

I’m passionate about the arts and culture! I currently own a historic house, and serve on the board of a local preservation society. I read a lot. Lately I’ve been reading about interior design and interior decoration, and practicing what I learn. I love to travel, specifically in Western Europe. I always research the history, art, and literature of my destinations so I can teach my travel companions. I lead book groups, play piano, and run as time allows. I’m active in several community organizations, and hold leadership positions in a few.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

The future depends on what you do today. I will wait to see what my future holds, but I know that it will be good! I’m looking forward to moving back to Washington, D.C. this summer.

Past Alumni features can be viewed here.

Heather on vacation in New Zealand.

Judy Kurtz (G '15)

@JudyKurtz

August 2018

Alumna of the Month

"When it comes to getting your first gig in journalism, don't be picky. Get your foot in the door, prove yourself, and then work towards the ultimate beat you want to cover or job you want to do. And find a mentor! Journalism is fiercely competitive. Find someone who can be your sounding board, guide, and ally throughout your career. Keep in touch with that person and don't just reach out to them when you need something. I still have great relationships with mentors who have served as real support systems for me over the years."









"I work with a terrific group of really smart, professional, and flat-out nice people at U.S. News, much like those I went to school with at Georgetown. As an older worker (and student) I've had several editing jobs, all related to health, following my first career as a registered nurse."