Does your Newhouse major dictate your job? (The answer is, "No.")

by Brad Hanford

January 11, 2018

Committing to any one of Newhouse’s nine majors may cause paralysis for many prospective students. The fluid and overlapping nature of the media world means that almost anyone drawn to it will inevitably have interests that lie in more than one of these categories. And the inevitable need to decide on a career path adds another element of stress to this decision—even for those who feel confident in their choice of major. 

Luckily, the majors we choose at Syracuse University aren’t as prescriptive of our future careers as we might think. As countless Newhouse alumni, including the three below, can attest to, the degrees we earn in school don’t have to correspond to the jobs we end up in.

A photo of Raja Ram '14
Raja Ram '14

Raja Ram ‘14

Major: Television, radio and film

Current job: Digital strategy analyst, Condé Nast  

Raja Ram went to Newhouse as a television, radio and film (TRF) major, but he currently works as a digital strategy analyst at Condé Nast. If that doesn’t sound like a TRF job, that’s because it isn’t.

While his career began in the TRF field—he interned at a production and distribution company during his Syracuse University in Los Angeles semester—he quickly realized that the creative field wasn’t for him. Raja soon landed a job at an ad agency.

“I was a bit concerned at first, as I had no advertising experience,” he says. “But I assumed that the recruiting staff had confidence in me. I was eager to learn on the job.”

Although he doesn’t work in a traditional TRF position, he says that his TRF education and experience has helped him in his work forecasting video and ad views.

“A major is not a definition of yourself,” he advises current students. “You are inherently valuable and have proven you have the ability to learn by being a Newhouse student.”

Going further, he advises that “media is a big world and it’s important to view it as more than simple silos.”

Like countless other Newhouse alumni, Raja realized that the real-world experience of his major wasn’t for him, and used his education to help him adapt to a position better suited to him.

A photo of Stephanie Smith '13
Stephanie Smith '13

Stephanie Smith, ‘13

Major: Magazine

Current job: senior account executive, Hunter Public Relations

Stephanie Smith, a magazine major currently working with Hunter Public Relations, tells a similar story, but her move into a different field wasn’t motivated by a distaste for the careers in her major. While in school, she worked for several campus publications and held magazine internships, as well.

“I loved working at all these publications and was excited to take on these opportunities,” Stephanie says. “If anything, I think they helped shape and make my experience even stronger and more diverse.”

Stephanie also says that her magazine background has helped her work in PR, from giving her a general understanding of the media field to, most importantly, making her a strong writer.

“Don’t have tunnel vision and think the only job you can get is in your specific field,” she advises current Newhouse students. “Look at job descriptions and think about how your skill set can be applicable and speak to alums who have made a switch.”

Like Raja, Stephanie’s career goes to show that the education we receive in Newhouse can be, and often is, applied almost anywhere in media.

A photo of Dana Froome '16
Dana Froome '16

Dana Froome ‘16

Major: Public relations

Current job: Assistant programming editor, Mashable

Dana Froome’s career found its shape in another way, one that shows that different media fields can overlap with each other.

A public relations (PR) major at Newhouse, Dana says she was consistently drawn to the editorial side of her work. During her Newhouse NYC semester she interned at Hearst PR, which then helped her land an editorial internship at Cosmopolitan during the winter semester of her senior year. She now works as an assistant programming editor at Mashable.

Like Stephanie’s background in writing, Dana’s experience in PR gave her universal communications skills.

“I understood how to craft engaging stories via multiple platforms,” Dana says.

Dana’s advice to students unsure about their majors or how they’ll translate to the real world is to join clubs on campus that they might be interested in.

“Reach out to alum whose career paths you admire, and pursue every internship/freelance position that comes your way,” she advises.

Like her fellow alumni, Dana’s interest in other parts of the media world led her down her an unexpected but rewarding path.

As we in Newhouse NYC are shown on a regular basis in our internships, the real world doesn’t neatly correspond to the layout of any academic program–and nowhere is this truer than in media. The skills and experience we acquire both in Newhouse and on our own afford us a wealth of career options, which is essential for those of us who find that a different field may be a better fit.

Brad Hanford '17 was a television, radio and film major, and is a Newhouse NYC alumni.