Mentor Matches

by Haley Millan

December 15, 2017

Six alumni who are giving back to Newhouse in New York City students

One of the best parts of the Newhouse in New York City program is the mentor program. Each semester, students gets matched with mentors—typically Newhouse alums who share their major and/or desired field. The commitment is for the semester only but, as the following six students can attest, the relationships often last far beyond that. Much of that good fortune is thanks to Cheryl Brody Franklin, director of Newhouse in New York City, who knows how to be a good matchmaker. While every mentor-mentee match is unique, the following matches show how above and beyond mentors are often willing to go for their mentees.

A photo of Sarah Barth '16 and Jessica Cunnington '12
Sarah Barth '16 and Jessica Cunnington '12

Sarah Barth ’16 (broadcast and digital journalism and political science dual major) and Jessica Cunnington ’12 (anchor/reporter, News 12)

Sarah came to Newhouse in New York City the spring of her junior year as a broadcast and digital journalism and political science dual. She was paired with Jessica Cunnington, a news reporter at News 12 who graduated with the same dual major as Sarah in 2012. Jessica has mentored multiple times for Newhouse in New York City, so it’s no surprise that there’s something special there.

“Jess is a total rock star and I don’t know how she does it,” Sarah says. “She’s training for a marathon and obviously works crazy hours, but she still makes time and is always there. To this day, we still talk.”

Even after Newhouse in New York City, the pair meet up whenever Sarah’s in the city.

“It’s great to have the experience of a professional friend. It’s not like we’re networking, nothing’s forced. Cheryl does a great job of matching people,” Sarah says of Director Franklin, who coordinates all the mentor matches each semester.

This semester, Jessica is a mentor for Newhouse in New York City student Nikki DeMentri. And Nikki loves her just as much as Sarah!

A photo of Saumya Vasuthevan '17 and Fiona Gibb '95
Saumya Vasuthevan '17 and Fiona Gibb '95

Saumya Vasuthevan ’17 (television, radio and film) and Fiona Gibb ’95 (senior editor, HBO)

Saumya came to Newhouse in New York City in spring 2017, and without Director Franklin knowing the connection, she paired Saumya, an international student from Hong Kong, with Fiona Gibb, a green card holder.

Saumya instantly felt connected to Fiona, saying, “It was really easy to talk to her about the whole visa nightmare. She got it immediately.”

Fiona, a magazine alum, was eager to help Saumya start her career. When interviewing for internships, Saumya received an email from Fiona with a link to interview prep that could help her land a gig. And it’s something Saumya still uses before all of her interviews today.

“I told her I was in really precarious position for my summer internship, and I was freaking out because I had declined an offer thinking I was going to get another (but got rejected from the second place). I had no offers so close to summer. She was so calm and just asked me ‘What can I do for you?’”

She gave Saumya the best advice she says she’s received so far: Never accept a job you’re not excited about.

“Sure enough, everything worked out in the end, but it was really comforting having someone more senior than you help put things in perspective. And make you realize that things like this happen, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll be okay.”

A photo of Daniel Denning '18 and Leo Wong '14
Daniel Denning '18 and Leo Wong '14

Daniel Denning ’18 (advertising) and Leo Wong ’14 (account manager, Droga5)

During his spring 2017 semester at Newhouse in New York City, Dan was paired with Leo Wong. Both advertising majors, Dan and Leo had a professional and friendly relationship. Leo emailed and texted Dan advice about his career, as well as the coolest things to do in New York.

A lot of Leo’s advice echoed Director Franklin’s, like emphasizing the importance of networking and staying in touch.

“He also advised me not to be afraid to change my mind about what I want to do,” Dan says. “Leo thought he wanted to do creative advertising and even did the creative track in the Newhouse advertising major, but ended up loving account management more and pursued that instead.”

While in New York, Dan visited Droga5 twice. Once was on a field trip with other Newhouse in New York City students, but the second time Leo personally invited Dan to give him a more in-depth company tour. Dan told Leo which Droga5 departments interested him, and Leo set up half-hour interviews with five different employees.

“Since my Newhouse in New York City semester ended a few months ago, I have been keeping up my professional and friendly relationship with Leo,” Dan says. “He has continued to give me advice, and I always feel comfortable asking him for help with anything advertising or career related. He came to visit Syracuse University a few weeks ago and gave me a big hug when he saw me. It was great to see him on campus and catch up.”

A photo of Kaitlin Frey '16 and Abigail Cuffey '07
Kaitlin Frey '16 and Abigail Cuffey '07

Kaitlyn Frey ’16 (magazine) and Abigail Cuffey ‘07 (deputy editor, Woman’s Day)

During her Newhouse in New York City semester in August 2014, Kaitlyn was matched with Abigail Cuffey, a magazine alum who was then the health director at Woman’s Day. Kaitlyn looked at Abby as a role model, and once they met she was overtaken by how down to earth she was.

“The first thing we did together was SoulCycle, which was so fun,” Kaitlyn recalls. I didn’t expect to do something with her that was so personal.”

Kaitlyn would always text and email Abby about any internship questions, like prioritizing assignments or sharing stories that she had published.

Even after Kaitlyn’s Newhouse in New York City semester ended, the pair still meet up. They keep in touch through email and social media. And Abby even made sure to take Kaitlyn out for drinks once she finally turned 21.

“Now we are more close on a personal level,” Kaitlyn says. “Over the years we’ve talked about her wedding and dress shopping, and now she’s married and has a baby. It’s crazy how time flies by.”

A photo of Laura Superina '18 and Sarah Christensen '07
Laura Superina '18 and Sarah Christensen '07

Laura Superina ’18 (magazine) and Sarah Christensen ‘07 (director of e-commerce product management & operations, ANN Inc.)

In the spring of her junior year, Laura came to Newhouse in New York City with a dilemma: she was a magazine major, but didn’t want to pursue an editorial career in magazines. Director Franklin matched her with Sarah Christensen, who was also a magazine major who decided editorial wasn’t for her either.

“When I first spoke to Sarah, I was confused about what I wanted to do,” Laura said. “She made me feel so much better because had been in the same position. We talked about how to create a narrative for myself where I can use the skills I learned in my major. She helped me shape what to say to stand out amongst others.”

Sarah helped Laura figure out what kind of internships she should look for, and even sent leads over that she thought Laura would be interested in.

“I had never thought of anyone as a mentor, and with this experience—to be given a mentor who you respect and get along with—set an example for me,” Laura says. “It taught me how to make connections and maintain them.”

A photo of Ada Lam '18 and Helen Rubinstein '13
Ada Lam '18 and Helen Rubinstein '13

Ada Lam ’18 (advertising and psychology dual major) and Helen Rubinstein ‘13 (account supervisor at Cohn & Wolfe)

Ada came to Newhouse in New York City in spring 2017 as an advertising and psychology dual. She splits her time between Wisconsin and Hong Kong, so location was a main concern. Thankfully, she was paired with mentor and public relations alum Helen Rubinstein.

Though Helen couldn’t completely relate to Ada’s situation, she made sure she would do whatever she could to help Ada—even reaching out to her friends in the industry to get advice. She always kept it honest with Ada, especially when it came to facing the fact that the job market in Wisconsin would likely pale in comparison to Hong Kong.

Ada and Helen saw each other more often than the required two or three meet-ups. They would get lunch every two or three weeks, which gave Helen the opportunity to show Ada around New York and introduce her to the best food places (like a spot in the Flatiron district with the best tacos Ada’s ever had).

“Sometimes meeting and connecting with people is very formal, but Helen was so casual with me. I felt comfortable,” Ada said. “She seemed genuinely interested in not just helping me settle in New York or my internship, but also my classes and personal life.”

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Haley Millan is a senior magazine major at the Newhouse School.