Career Development Center matches students with alumni during winter break

By Lauren Renz

November 20, 2015

Program creates nearly 150 pairs for valuable job-showing and small project work experience

For the second year in a row, the alumni partnership program through the Career Development Center at the Newhouse School offers students the unique opportunity to work with professionals during the upcoming winter break. Alumni in advertising and marketing, broadcast journalism, film and video, graphic design, print and online journalism, public relations, publishing as well as television and radio, have agreed to open their worksites Jan. 11 to 15 to current Newhouse students seeking similar careers. First- and second-year students will shadow alumni in their prospective fields while third- and fourth-year undergraduates and graduate students have the opportunity to build upon their experience by assisting alumni with short-term projects.

To participate in the program, Newhouse students provide the CDC with a brief summary of their interests so that they can be matched with host alumni. Kelly Barnett, director of the CDC and head of the program, said more than 133 alumni responded this year.

“This equates to around 150 opportunities for students, since some alumni were willing to take on more than one student,” Barnett says.  

The students and alumni are introduced to one another in early December, she says. The CDC makes a point of marketing this opportunity to all Newhouse students with the goal of connecting as many alumni hosts with students as possible.

Students who job shadow will have a “day in the life” experience for one to two days by seeing first-hand an alum’s daily routine. Job shadowing provides a realistic view of what certain jobs entail, and give students a better feel of an organization’s culture. Most importantly, students will walk away with a better sense of what fits their career interests, which can help shape the rest of their time at Newhouse.

 “Students have the chance to do something that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to do at this point in their college career,” Barnett says.

Megan Callahan, a senior magazine journalism major had the opportunity to job shadow at Ski Magazinein Boulder, Colorado last year.

“Getting the opportunity to see how the print and digital aspects of a magazine come together as well as the back-end SEO was a great experience,” Callahan says. “Also, I was able to network and get my foot in the door, helping me land an amazing summer internship.”

Callahan says the experience helped her understand the industry better. 

“I went into the placement literally blind, but I came out with new skills and a better understanding of how a large print publication works,” she says.

For upperclassmen and graduate students, the short-term project assistance program occurs at the same time during winter break but is usually a two- to five-day experience. The primary goal of a short-term project is to give real-life, hands-on experience that enhances a new or developing skill set for students about to enter the workforce.

“We had heard of other schools doing the program, and it seemed like the perfect fit for Newhouse,” Barnett says.

The feedback from last year was overwhelmingly positive, she says, and CDC staff expects even better results this year. Although the experiences vary, students from last year’s program say they learned a lot about their prospective fields and gained a new sense of confidence about their post-graduation plans. And it’s one more example of how Newhouse alumni give back to the school and its current students.

“Our alumni have always asked for more. More ways to be engaged—we’ve had them come back for information sessions about their companies, and we’ve had alumni in panels,” Barnett says. “This is just another way to engage a population that really does want to get involved and give back.”

Lauren Renz is a sophomore advertising major at the Newhouse School.