Forty USC Annenberg communication and journalism students were able to network and gather advice from a panel of Annenberg alumni now working NBC thanks to the Career Development department’s Career Treks, which brought the students to the Universal lot on September 23.
This is the second year of what are formally called USC Annenberg Career Development Career Treks and the NBC outing was the first of three such events planned for this semester. The number of participants has doubled since last year, giving even more students an opportunity to benefit.
“We decided to open up, we love doing it,” said Jeff Bader (MA Communication Management '86), President, Program Strategy & Research at NBCUniversal. “The biggest thing I hope they get out of it is just realizing they have access to a place like this through the alumni.”
Participating students learned about the key skills the assembled NBC execs acquired at Annenberg and also gained insight into NBC’s office culture. They also received valuable advice on work ethic, internships and how to measure individual performance at work.
Arlene Ohanian, (B.A. Communication ‘18) thought the panel discussion was very helpful. She wants to work in entertainment and has had internships in marketing, public relations and global communications.
“I think people asked great questions, very intelligent questions and the responses were actually helpful whereas a lot of panels feel more generic,” Ohanian said. “Now I know exactly what type of company I’d like to work for and what kind of department I want to work for. I had no idea before this practical experience.”
In addition to Bader, panelists included Benoit Landry, (MA Communication Management '05), Senior Director, Program Research at NBCUniversal; Kristy Chan (B.A. Broadcast Journalism ‘77), Vice President, Series Publicity & Creative Affairs at Universal Television; Kelly Williams (B.A. Print and Digital Journalism ‘12), Assistant in Program Planning, Strategy & Research at NBCUniversal; Edward Zarcoff (B.A. Broadcast Journalism ‘85, MFA Cinema-Television ‘90), SVP, Production Management for E! News; Robert Liu (MA Communication Management ‘04), Director for NBC Consumer & Market Intelligence at NBCUniversal Entertainment; and Tosh Komine, Senior Manager for Integrated Marketing & Events at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Suzanne Alcantara, director of USC Annenberg’s Career Development department, said one goal of the Treks is to give students a chance to hear perspectives from different departments within an organization like NBC.
“Students can make direct connections to their own interests and their own skills and where they want to fit in,” Alcantara said.
As alumni, the panelists were able to share some of the valuable lessons they learned at USC and Annenberg, such as having solid writing skills.
“We get a lot of interns and assistants who didn’t major in communications or journalism and haven’t written anything like that. I think it was a skill that I already had from day one and and it made it a lot easier,” Chan said.
Chan added that the internship network is very strong at Annenberg. She advised students that the more they interned, the more they’d benefit after graduation.
Landry shared that Annenberg’s CMGT: 540 – Uses of Communication Research class trained him for his future job, specifically administering surveys and analyzing data.
Overall, panelists noted there’s a difference when it comes to working with millennials.
“The older you were, you got a job and did the best job you possibly could do and hoped you get promoted, but there was no set path. The younger generation expects promotions at regular intervals. They expect to have very specific goals and if they achieve those goals, they’re rewarded for it,” Bader said.
One thing that stood out among the panel's suggestions for Reginald Parker-Hollis (MA Communication Management ‘18) was the need for curiosity.
“You need curiosity to succeed in research and I thought that was a highlight,” Parker-Hollis said. “Hearing their stories made me realize I’m on the right path. I really enjoyed it.”
Keren Marroquin (B.A. Communication ‘18) appreciated being able to network in an intimate setting.
“I feel like settings like this allow useful activity to happen, more than a career fair where you’re trying to sell yourself for cheaper or beat others to the punch,” she said.
Indeed, Miracle McClain, USC Annenberg Career Development corporate liaison, shared that one of last year’s Career Trek participants, Diasy Ramierz, was subsequently invited to interview with Liu and offered an internship. That internship became a job shortly after her internship ended.
“It's these unique and organic opportunities bringing together Annenberg alumni and current students that demonstrate the clear Annenberg advantage and power of the Trojan network,” McClain said.
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