Students visit BuzzFeed as part of the Career Center’s Career Trek program.

BuzzFeed, a media and tech company that encourages authenticity

There was a message reverberating at BuzzFeed: Keep your eye on the rapidly evolving media landscape. 

From conceptualizing content creation and monitoring social media trends to generating revenue, the USC Annenberg Career Development Career Trek welcomed a select group of USC Annenberg undergraduate and graduate students on March 23 to listen in on BuzzFeed strategies. 

The students gathered around Dionna Muldrow, the early career program manager at BuzzFeed. Muldrow, who graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in communication, wanted students to learn how a company like BuzzFeed encourages a thriving team dynamic.

“We want students to understand the culture of the organization and how we work collectively — how we deep dive into brainstorming sessions, for example,” Muldrow said. “We are not just a content company — we want to use our content to connect with each other and pass that knowledge down to the students.”

“For some students,” Muldrow added, “it might not be possible to intern at every company that one is interested in, so the USC Annenberg Career Treks are the next best thing.”

As the BuzzFeed trek began, Muldrow chaperoned students through a guided tour of film sets and studios, while she offered interesting behind-the-scenes facts as they took pictures (and selfies). “Free snacks and treats are readily available for employees,” Muldrow told students. 

“These USC Annenberg treks are a great way for students to get an inside look at a company or industry from the perspective of an employee,” Muldrow said. “They get to see what the environment looks like and get honest answers to their questions. They may even learn about roles they had never thought of before.”

After the tour, Buzzfeed employees engaged in an informal discussion that included “hot” social media tips and marketing topics.

“BuzzFeed’s style and creative direction is always shifting,” said Sequoia Holmes, a social media associate who was a panelist at the career trek. 

BuzzFeed employees offer students an inside look at the company and how they operate their social media and production teams.

Holmes asserts that she has a natural curiosity for learning and staying up-to-date with new messaging platforms. “You want to remain aware of social media and marketing trends,” she said. “And you should become familiar with knowing what metrics are available for each platform and how your audience responds to various projects as a means to achieving success.”

Helene Sparangis, USC Annenberg’s career programs coordinator, said there are many benefits with setting up multiple Career Treks a semester. “Students are guided in the right direction for advising on what skill sets they should have upon graduating.”

In addition, Sparangis said, “The career development staff members are able to bring valuable information back to the team and use what is learned from these visits to advise students who were not able to attend.” 

Joi Wade ’20, who studies public relations, created her own YouTube channel in 2012, documenting high school student life and offering beauty tips. Wade, who has gone to many Career Treks, thought that Buzzfeed was different from other companies because they have a very distinctive company culture.

Having an interest in content-driven platforms, Wade wanted to see how BuzzFeed not only creates viral videos, but how they profit from them.

“I found it interesting when the panel talked about how they are trying to diversify their income beyond their videos and manage new products to generate revenue,” Wade said. “BuzzFeed has a lot of studio space that allows them to create an atmosphere to explore projects and collaborate with corporations on marketing campaigns.” 

Jason Pierre, a production supervisor at BuzzFeed, offered students solid advice about producing material that is relevant to the BuzzFeed following. “Learn something new every day,” he said. “Start making stuff, challenge yourself to see how your mind works and visualize how you would translate that content.” 

Fion Lam, who is graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, was attracted to BuzzFeed’s team building and decision-making process. “You get a sense from listening and engaging with panelists how media businesses are run and how BuzzFeed integrates their employees as part of their growth,” she said.

At the close of the trek, Muldrow offered information about BuzzFeed internships. “Get experience in areas you are interested in,” Muldrow told the students. “You can use internships to see what you like to do and build your resume, along with some confidence boosting skills. Here at BuzzFeed, there are no walls or barriers — we ask for you to bring your authentic self to work and be unapologetic.”

“For us, as students,” Wade said, “these events are important because they allow us to get inside the doors of companies. We are able to meet executives and HR representatives face to face and begin networking — something valued, appreciated and encouraged here at USC Annenberg.”