Amanda Finney G’16

Amanda Finney’s winding path to chief of staff to the White House Press Office and special assistant to Press Secretary Jen Psaki included Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and a stop at the Newhouse School, where she earned her master’s degree in television, radio and film.

White House Press Office team. Photo by Cameron Smith.

“Newhouse allowed me to think even bigger than I was before, and get a tangible understanding of different roles and disciplines in communications to think about what was possible, and what I’d need to get there.”

Amanda Finney, G’16

What is your current position title and employer?

Chief of staff to the White House Press Office and special assistant to Press Secretary Jen Psaki

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

I caught the political bug after working as a White House intern one summer in college. When Barack Obama announced his re-election campaign in 2012, I knew I had to be a part of it, and convinced my teachers and administrators at Wake Forest (and my mom!) to allow me to take a sabbatical for the first half of my senior year to work as a field organizer for the campaign in Virginia and, after a hard fought win, a fellow for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

I followed a winding path from there to Teach for America to Syracuse to Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, Microsoft and all the way to Mike Bloomberg’s campaign. After President Biden and Vice President Harris’ historic win I—again—knew I needed to be a part of what they were building, and started making calls to old campaign and work friends to understand what opportunities were out there. After a few conversations with Jen and other members of the press and communications team, I accepted my current role, and the rest is history!

What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it.

Anyone at the White House will tell you, there is no such thing as an “average day”—in fact, it’s always the ones you think will be “average” that we get the most surprises! What I can tell you is that every day starts early—we have a standing call for the press team at 7:30 a.m., then it’s all hands on deck to get Jen ready for her briefing, usually in the afternoon, prepping her on the news of the day and any questions media might ask when she’s at the podium.

After the briefing, we start all over again prepping for the next day and talking to reporters who are on deadlines for their stories, making sure they have the relevant information necessary to communicate the important work the White House is doing to the American people.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current position? What hard/soft skills did you learn at Newhouse?

Newhouse allowed me to think even bigger than I was before, and get a tangible understanding of different roles and disciplines in communications to think about what was possible, and what I’d need to get there. I remember taking Barbara Jones’ TV Business class where we got to meet TV executives firsthand, gaining an inside look at how they were thinking about the TV lineups on their networks and how ratings and trends translated to their decision-making process – Is it better to have the sitcom on before the drama or vice versa? What audiences will that bring in? What ads make sense to have on commercial breaks? Can we break the fourth wall with our ads?

Newhouse allowed me to see how the sausage gets made, from a lone starting script to set production all the way to a global premiere—and the many people who often don’t even get credit for their hard work bringing a story to life from start to finish. The lighting director is just as important as the lead anchor—and that’s a lesson I’ve taken with me to the White House twofold. I know to look out for the minor details that go into a TV or magazine spot for the press office, but I also know it’s important to treat every member of that team with respect and a smile, because it’s the result of everyone’s contribution that can make a story a true success.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

Two words: Bob Thompson. He truly changed the way I thought about television and pop culture and how my love of each of these shape the world we live in today. Professor Thompson’s three courses, which explore each decade, opened my eyes to how much TV and film impacts society.

Oftentimes people write off television, tossing it aside as irrelevant or less than thought-provoking, but Thompson’s classes and viewing specials taught and proved it was very much the opposite. I distinctly remember him showing us a clip from the 1968 The Petula Clark Show in which she touched Harry Belafonte’s arm during a song—a moment that was not just TV history, that was American history—and is often cited as the first onscreen contact between a man and a woman of different races, exposing a huge audience to this interaction, who might otherwise not even have entertained the thought. Professor Thompson allowed me to think critically about the way TV, marketing, advertising, all visual media representations can directly shape the way we think, feel and speak as a society, and helped me understand the great role I could have as a storyteller, particularly breaking down stereotypes and paving the way towards equality for all.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

I went to a liberal arts college which I felt prepared me as a writer and as a thought leader on a range of subjects, but I felt the Newhouse Master’s program would be a great way to further immerse myself in the art and skills of communications.

Growing up in a rather culturally-aware, TV-friendly household, we would sit and watch every awards show every year, dissecting the winners based on our own favorites, and what we thought that meant about society at that moment. Considering the Syracuse program, with the opportunity to sit in classes and learn directly from executives behind major moments from the MTV VMAs awards to the Superbowl was a no-brainer. I knew I’d be able to learn from these experts, the people in the room making moments in cultural history, while putting my own creative juices to the test.

Did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you? What internships or volunteer opportunities did you do while at Newhouse

If you’re in communications, you know Syracuse, and you know the name, “Newhouse.” I still subscribe to the alumni Job Ops newsletter and am always impressed by what alumni are doing, and the great network available to me. I’ve met alumni all over the country in roles from press to marketing and even at the White House, and when I have been pursuing new opportunities, I know a contact is likely only a quick call or LinkedIn message away.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

When you tell people you work at the White House, they immediately picture scenes from West Wing, and assume we’re all in the office 24/7. While the advent of cell phones and laptops have, luckily, allowed us to spend some time out of the office, there’s definitely a truth to the hours and dedication needed that you might have seen on TV. I’m always on, and have my cell phone at the ready on nights and weekends but with all the stress and hard work, come some pretty incredible moments too—I was able to be there when Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson accepted her position on the Supreme Court—and those are the times you remember, that carry you through sleepless nights and less-than-leisurely weekends. I think this is something that binds all Newhouse graduates, pursuing your dreams, whether they be producing a feature film or chasing a huge news story, pays off but it won’t without hard work.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

There is nothing quite like a political campaign: from the very first adrenaline rush of moving to a new city or state to support a candidate, to meeting other incredible people working towards the same goal, to meeting supporters, and being motivated to do everything you can to win. I’ve been fortunate to live through—and work for—quite a few history-defining campaigns, and be a part of moments that have shaped our generation: from Barack Obama in 2012 to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and now, working in the White House through pandemic. Each taught me, surprised me and inspired me in new ways, and I know will continue to shape my unique path forward.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

My biggest advice to students or anyone starting out their career is to stay open. You may have an idea of what you want to do when you graduate—and that’s great!—but keep your eyes and ears open for possibilities, because what will shape your career might not even be invented yet. It used to be so clear cut – working your way up the ranks at a TV or newspaper, but so few have such linear career paths these days. It’s risky and scary, but there’s a great and exciting opportunity to create your own path, whether it be from TV to movies or even Instagram to the latest streaming platform. Enjoy the journey, make friends and contacts and learn from every opportunity, because you never know who or what will help you to your next big break.

Megha Garibaldi G ’15

Megha Garibaldi graduated from the Newhouse School with a master’s in new media management. While at Newhouse, she integrated her interests in journalism and business with her media studies. Now, she works at The Atlantic where her focus is implementing and and monitoring growth strategies.

“Just be open to all experiences. Ask a lot of questions, wander to the different schools on campus and learn how different areas intersect with your chosen field.”
– Megha Garibaldi

What is your current position title and employer?

Senior director, consumer strategy and growth, The Atlantic

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

I oversaw the consumer revenue vertical for The Guardian in the U.S. prior to joining The Atlantic. When I was considering my next role after The Guardian, I was clear about working for a journalism organization that I believed in. The Atlantic was at the top of that list; so when a role in the growth organization opened up, I applied and got the position.

What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it.

An average day includes many cross-functional meetings that help us push our growth strategy forward. It’s a mix of strategy sessions and active implementation discussions.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current position? What hard/soft skills did you learn at Newhouse?

Newhouse did a great job of exposing me to the nuances of content-based businesses which was very valuable. It allowed for me to understand that in addition to exemplary content, you need a strong data foundation, an ever-evolving tech infrastructure and clear business acumen to drive toward profitability. Also, my program allowed me to learn and hone a variety of analytical skills that have been helpful in my career.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

Yes. I was always tied to journalism. However, my time at Newhouse opened the worlds of advertising and public relations to me as well. I appreciate this a lot.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

The intersectionality of the program drew me in. I was getting exposure to the journalism school and the business school as a part of my graduate education.

Did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you? What internships or volunteer opportunities did you do while at Newhouse?

Getting access to the Newhouse database was immensely helpful. The ability to network and communicate with Newhouse alumni is invaluable.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

It’s a tough industry as profitability is a challenge. But, it is a highly noble field.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

In 2019, I was nominated for The Marketing Academy US which is a brilliant program that puts together 30 emerging marketing leaders through a year filled with learning and growth. The experience truly lasts a lifetime and I was fortunate enough to participate in the program while working at the Guardian.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

Just be open to all experiences. Ask a lot of questions, wander to the different schools on campus and learn how different areas intersect with your chosen field. For eg: data and journalism, public policy and tech etc.

Jessica Merten G’21

Jessica Merten graduated from the Newhouse School with a Media and Education Master in ’21. While at Newhouse, she developed her passions for content creation while working on her capstone about disability representation in children’s media. Now, she works as both a professor and a content creator part time.

“Newhouse showed me that you cannot limit yourself to one passion because you never know where you will end up.”
Jessica Merten ’21

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

After searching for what seemed like forever, applying to job after job, I found my Brand Content Marketing Internship on LinkedIn. Even though I graduated with a Media and Education Masters, I have always wanted to work with branded content, so I thought, why not? I obtained my other positions as a Social Media Marketing and Strategist for Tasia Valenza and an adjunct professor at Marist College teaching a Digital Toolbox class through recommendation from one of my Newhouse Professors. Making connections with your professors can lead to amazing things!

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

I currently work from home, so each morning I wake up and go get a coffee. I then sit at my desk and usually start with a one-hour meeting with my coworkers discussing what needs to be done. I am either planning, creating, or editing. What I love about my day is if I am at a standstill, I can rely on my coworkers to help me with ideas and suggestions.

Collaboration in my position is key! After I finish up that job, I meet with my other boss to discuss the social media posts for the week. I create, edit and post daily for her as well! Then it is time to relax!

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse not only got me one of my positions, but the level of education I got through Newhouse prepared me for any situation. I love the variety of content I learned to create through Newhouse. I am able to create branded content, then flip the switch and create social media posts for an entirely different industry. On top of it all, I still put work into my Capstone project for children’s media. I obtained the skills to work in almost any part of the industry through Newhouse.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspects of your field you may have not considered when applying?

I came into this school wanting to be a film teacher. However, as I took more classes and discussed with more professors, I found that I have more passions than just teaching. I love social media, so why not work there? I am passionate about disability representation in children’s media, so why not pursue that? Newhouse showed me that you cannot limit yourself to one passion because you never know where you will end up. And no matter where you end up, you will end up successful.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

My program was the only program like it in the country. Newhouse itself is a well-known school that has unlimited capabilities. The professors are professionals from the industry who want to help and love their students. The connections and education you receive from Newhouse are unobtainable at any other university.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

People say that you will never make it in the film industry and it is almost impossible to get into. However, this is not true! There are limitless possibilities of how you can succeed in this industry, especially with the help of Newhouse professors. The media industry is booming and is not going to stop. You will get a job, you will succeed, and you will end up in your dream position. All you have to do is keep up your good work and passion.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

One of the most exciting parts of my career is seeing content I wrote, filmed, and edited published on my company’s site. I have made content and posted it on my website, but seeing my content on a page which people are constantly visiting is a feeling like no other.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

Take advantage of every opportunity Newhouse has to offer. Work on student films and the Orange TV Network, and take what classes interest you. Take advantage of the small amount of time you have at Newhouse, it will get you far in the future. Take any one of Shaina Holmes’ classes, they are work but they are fun and so worth it. Chase Clifford-Manley is also amazing not only as a professor, but as a mentor. Finally, Professor Comstock will help bring your short films to their best.

Brigethia Guins-Jamison G’17

Brigethia is an assistant account executive at Hill + Knowlton Strategies in the consumer markets sector providing day-to-day support to media relations, executive communications, influencer marketing and diversity and inclusion for a set of clients, including Procter & Gamble, Russell Reynolds Associates, and Aflac.

“Newhouse prepared me a lot for the workforce. The hands-on experiences that I received during my master’s program really equipped me for the real world.”

Brigethia Guins-Jamison G’17

Prior to joining H+K, Brigethia worked as a public relations coordinator for Urbanity Communications and interned with Edelman’s paid media team in their Chicago office. While completing her master’s degree, she worked as a marketing associate for Aspen Heights Partners handling content creation, brand awareness and social media campaigns.

Brigethia received her master’s degree in public relations in 2017 from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and her bachelor’s degree in mass communications in 2016 from Medaille College.

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

When I started at Hill + Knowlton I was a digital fellow. After about eight months I was hired on as an assistant account executive. Prior to joining H+ K, I was a part time account coordinator for a small boutique public reactions firm Urbanity Communications.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse prepared me a lot for the workforce. The hands-on experiences that I received during my master’s program really equipped me for the real world. Our benchmark trips were amazing because we got a chance to meet public relations professionals and learn a lot from them. We also got a chance to visit different agencies to see what it would possibly be like working there.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

When you first start out you really have to work your way up specifically in the agency life. Also, being so young with a graduate degree also made it tough for me to find a role after college. Life after college is definitely challenging but know that you aren’t alone in the process and that there are resources for you.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

My most exciting moment in the career was working with my client Procter and Gamble on their Queen Collective program developed in partnership with Queen Latifah, and Tribeca Studios, aiming to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera by opening doors to the next generation of multicultural women directors through mentorship, production support, and distribution opportunities. I also was a part of P&G’s launch of their Widen The Screen initiative which aims to address the systemic bias and inequality in advertising and media. These moments were exciting because the work was meaningful and really gave underserved individuals a voice which I am so happy to be a part of.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

The advice I would give to incoming students is to work hard and appreciate the moment you are in now because you will miss it. My favorite professors were Anthony D’Angelo, Hua Jiang and Dennis Kinsey.

Cameron Hill G’18

Cameron graduated from Newhouse in 2018 with a master’s in television, radio and film. He currently works as an editor and new content media supervisor with Transit Pictures.

“Newhouse gave me insight into how many different jobs exist in the filmmaking industry, but also how new media is changing those traditional roles.

Cameron Hill G’18

How did you obtain your current position?

It all happened kind of fast. I knew I needed an internship to complete my graduate degree, and a former high school teacher reached out to me saying a former student of his, Tony Valentino, had a production company and was looking for an intern. I had met Tony as a high school senior at an alumni event but hadn’t talked to him since. I didn’t let that discourage me, though, and I contacted him. Next thing I know, I’m flying to L.A. for the first time. I hit the ground running and was able to PA [production assist] on a couple shoots Transit had been contracted for. More often, I found myself in our studio space filming content for stand-up comedian Tony Baker’s YouTube channel. As my internship was coming to an end, both of the owners, Tony Valentino and Brennon Edwards, asked what my plans were and offered me a position at Transit. I accepted, and I’m still working there today.

What’s an average day like for you on the job? Take us through it.

Since I started working for Transit, there hasn’t been a “typical” day on the job. A Monday can start as early as a six a.m. call time for a full day of production, and then Tuesday I may be recording a podcast. Most often, my job entails prepping cameras and other gear for productions happening during the week. That involves doing camera builds based on the type of production. If it’s a multi-camera shoot then you have to configure the camera per its use on the production, meaning attaching shoulder mounts, balancing gimbals, using specialty lenses, etc. Along with prepping gear comes the production days, in which I’ll usually help with lighting or camera assisting. We also do a lot of our editing in-house, so I’ll sometimes assist in editing as well.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse prepared me through the production classes I took. Neal Coffey’s cinematography class gave me a very good technical understanding of working with cameras and lighting equipment, from getting proper exposure, lighting a green screen, to safety on set. All of that training directly transferred to the work I’m doing now. The TV production capstone also was a good experience in how it shows what goes into running a production as a whole and your part in a bigger process.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

Newhouse gave me insight into how many different jobs exist in the filmmaking industry but also how new media is changing those traditional roles. Podcasts are no longer solely audio and now many have video elements too. The YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+ streaming ecosystem works differently than the broadcast mediums, and Newhouse helped to explain that and how it’s important to remain adaptable in this growing world of media.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

Newhouse’s reputation and alumni drew me to the graduate program and the unique features of it being a one-year program for the television, radio and film degree. And I’m from Syracuse, so there was already a connection to the school.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

Everyone’s path into the production field is completely different. My opportunity came from a connection with a former high school teacher, yours may be another PA you meet on set. A misconception I think students should be aware of is the idea that you have to work for one of the large companies to make it. I went the opposite route and wouldn’t change that approach. I chose to intern and then work for a smaller production company, which allowed me to have a hand in all of the different fields because I had to fulfill multiple positions. I find it to be an intense environment at a smaller company, but it’s rewarding because I have a closer relationship with the content we’re making.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

In the almost three years I’ve been in L.A. there have been a few exciting moments, the first being bringing Tony Baker’s YouTube channel to its 100,000 subscriber milestone through an almost daily release of content. The most recent defining moment is still ongoing: I’ve been working on “Keep Your Distance”, which is a stand-up comedy show created by comedian KevOnStage that came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Audiences can’t attend live events so we thought of a way to safely bring it to them through a live-streamed stand-up show. “Keep Your Distance” is now on its 14th show (at the time of this writing), and from these shows we have been able to expand into creating even more content that will be released throughout 2021.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students? Any classes or professors that you recommend?

My advice to current and incoming students is stay aware of the state of the industry as much as possible; and not just in the field you want to work in, but also other aspects that you may not know you’re interested in. Watch and listen to all types of media; you have access to more than anyone before you so use it to your advantage. Also, your time in school is the best place to make mistakes because no one’s job, including yours, is at stake — experiment as much as possible in school so that you can avoid small mistakes when it really counts after graduation.

Temple Northup G’08

Temple Northup graduated from Newhouse in 2008 with a master’s in media studies. He currently works as the director of the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.

“From theory to research, the courses at Newhouse set me on the right path to become an effective researcher, which is what led me to getting tenure at my first university.”

Temple Northup, G’08

How did you obtain your current position?

I just started this position in July 2020 after being at the University of Houston the previous nine years. At the University of Houston, I was director of the Valenti School of Communication, a position I held for the last five years I was there. Before that, I was at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which is where I got my Ph.D. after graduating from Syracuse with my M.A.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

These days, average days are a bit different as I spend so much time on Zoom. But, ignoring that component of it, I would say it’s hard to describe an “average” day as they are almost never identical. As the administrative head of the school, my first and most important task is to make sure everything is running as planned—all our classes are happening, faculty are supported in their needs and our students are getting the help they need to graduate on time. Beyond those tasks, which take up a lot of time, I also work hard reaching out to alumni of the school in order to build stronger relationships with them, and to find new sources of revenue for our program. I also like to spend time thinking strategically about what we as a media school need to be doing to position ourselves as a leader in the field and what changes we need to make in order to keep our students prepared for the workforce.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse absolutely prepared me for my role—and frankly continues to help me in this position. It did this in a few ways.

First, being a graduate of the Newhouse M.A. in media studies, I got really well trained in some of the most important and core aspects of the communication discipline—from theory to research, the courses at Newhouse set me on the right path to become an effective researcher, which is what led me to getting tenure at my first university.

Second, getting to be a student at Newhouse meant I got to see some of the best faculty in action. As a future faculty member, and then administrator, I know what great teaching looks like, and I know what it looks like to be a great mentor to students. Those lessons I have carried with me in all aspects of my career.

Finally, being part of Newhouse meant I got to see some of the most innovative programs in the country—and that is something I continue to do. As the leader of a different school, I keep an eye on what Newhouse is doing because I know it will always be leading the field. I have such respect for all aspects of the Newhouse School, if I can lead our program to be anywhere near as strong, then I am doing great things!

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

When I applied to Newhouse, I honestly did not anticipate what it would truly be like or where my career would go. In that sense, it absolutely opened my eyes to becoming not just a teacher, which is what I had thought about doing after I graduated, but also an engaged researcher. The enthusiasm of the faculty and their research agendas was contagious, and although I entered the program thinking about teaching one day, I left wanting to do much more—I wanted to conduct research.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

The main thing that drew to Newhouse was its reputation. There are only a handful of programs in the US that everyone knows from its name, and Newhouse was one of those. That is unique—and the benefits pay off after you leave as I am constantly meeting people who went to Newhouse, and the network it provided me has been very beneficial during my career.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

Some of my research has gotten a lot of attention within the media—with one of them getting so much coverage, I actually ended up flying to New York City to appear on Fox & Friends (a place, for many reasons, I never thought I would be). That was quite an experience and certainly one of the more exciting things that have happened! I’ve also gotten to interview many high-profile media personalities including Anderson Cooper, which was really fun.

Northup Temple with Anderson Cooper
Temple Northup with Anderson Cooper. Photo courtesy of Temple Northup.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

I think it’s super important to connect with faculty early and get to know them. They are your best resources whatever your career goals, and so the better they know you, the more they will help you after graduation.

Hannah Langtry G’19

Hannah Langtry graduated from the Newhouse School in 2019 with a master’s in audio arts. While at Newhouse, she participated in the program’s winter networking trip to Los Angeles and held an instructional associate position in the Setnor School of Music. Langtry currently works as an executive administrative assistant at A2IM.

“Newhouse prepared me the most by providing me with hands-on experience with technology that I would not be able to afford otherwise and by allowing me to manage an artist for my capstone project.”

Hannah Langtry, G’19

How did you obtain your current position?

This would be the first “career job” I have had, actually. I had applied to over a hundred positions without luck in my first few months living in New York City. Todd Herreman (a wonderful professor and director of Audio Arts) reached out to inform me of a position open at A2IM to be a membership coordinator. He knew the president and CEO of A2IM. I excitedly applied and made it to the final stages of interviews and walked out of the final one convinced I got the job, just to find out they chose someone else. I was heartbroken, truly. The HR director asked me if they could keep my information on file for any future open positions, and of course I said yes, but I figured they were just saying that to make me feel better and didn’t actually refer back to older applications. Three months later, the HR director emailed me asking if I was interested in interviewing for another position at A2IM—the one I have now—because they felt I was a great candidate. They wanted someone who could manage accounts and I had experience due to a previous job I held in customer service and sales at a family-owned music store in my hometown.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

There are only 10 of us. I currently work virtually in my hometown and I spend most of my time replying to emails, writing invoices, applying payments to the appropriate accounts, attending planning meetings for our events, searching through music business news, assisting my boss with his calendar, and listening to music. We are a non-profit supported by membership and I am responsible for writing and receiving all annual invoices for our members along with invoices for any sponsorships we have. It’s a lot of customer service, support, working in our CMR and in Quickbooks, and staying organized on who needs an invoice in each month. In the spring, we spend all of our time preparing for our annual Indie Week/Libera Awards that happen in June. Sometimes, we have staff happy hours where we just talk about whatever and play Jackbox games!

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Newhouse taught me resilience and how to stand out in a crowd of people who want the same position and have the same area of study as me. Newhouse encouraged me to narrow down my area of specialty and become an expert in that area in order to stand out. I have to give so much credit to Professor Bill Werde—he was not easy on us starting on day 1 in bootcamp where he told us he would never sugarcoat things and he would be honest to us about our attitudes. Newhouse taught me the importance of staying informed about upcoming technology, and as far as hard skills, I got experience using some of this technology. I made a 360 degree music video, I 3D printed a guitar hook, I experimented with binaural audio and did endless research and studying about virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, and upcoming A&R scouting technology. (Thank you Sean Branagan and Ulf Oesterle.) Overall, Newhouse prepared me the most by providing me with hands—on experience with technology that I would not be able to afford otherwise and by allowing me to manage an artist for my capstone project. Lastly, elevator pitches; I got so much practice with those.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

The winter trip to LA (one of the best weeks of my life, by the way), the small class sizes, both the Newhouse recording studio and the Belfer studio, the experience that the directors of the program had, and the ability to split my studies between music business and audio production. Lastly, the 14-month program span since I was very nervous about paying for grad school.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

Unfortunately, it will be harder than usual to find a job because of the pandemic, especially if you want to work in the independent community like I did. Definitely not impossible, but I think fewer companies are looking to hire right now. The positive side of the coin with the pandemic, however, is that companies will be more willing to hire you to work virtually which means you don’t necessarily have to live in an expensive city. Another obstacle is that the music industry is run by white men for the most part, and I notice that women are generally much quieter in meetings. This is changing though—we are actively working on changing it.

A misconception, which was unfortunately taught to me mostly by the people I met in LA during our trip there, is that you have to take crappy jobs and work for crappy bosses the beginning of your career for little to no pay and your opinion will most likely not be valued. I can confirm that it will most likely take you a while to find a job doing what you want to do—that is just the reality of the entertainment business—but that does not mean that you have to take insulting jobs in the meantime. Instead, try to find a stable job in a parallel industry and take side gigs in the music industry that may not pay you, but give you valuable experience to build your resume. When I was working as pet store associate for less than minimum wage in New York City with a master’s degree, I was also still managing my artist friend’s socials and finding him gigs in New York City.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

Do not take gigs that don’t give you the appropriate credit that you’ve earned. Yes, you’re a student, but your work is valuable and you will regret not receiving the credit—especially if you’re not being paid. Your name should be in the credits roll or in the album notes. Second, your age and your upcoming status as a recent graduate is actually quite valuable in the workplace. When you’re interviewing, talk about the fascinating technology and projects Newhouse offers you—most likely, no other candidate has that experience. As far as your time in school, try new things! If this means you have to take on a really heavy semester because you’re in a 14-month program, do it. I regret not taking more audio classes in Newhouse, such as Sound for Picture. Most importantly, get involved in every project you possibly can handle—that is the experience that is the most valuable.

Jerald Raymond Pierce G’18

Jerald Raymond Pierce graduated from Newhouse’s Goldring Arts Journalism program in 2018. While at Newhouse, he worked as a marketing department intern at Syracuse Stage and an editorial intern at American Theatre magazine. Pierce currently works as associate editor for American Theatreand as a freelance theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune.

“Newhouse gave me the groundwork in what it means to be a journalist.”

Jerald Raymond Pierce, G’18

How did you obtain your current position?

I was an intern for American Theatre while at Newhouse and when Diep Tran (another Goldring alum) left her position with the magazine, I jumped at the chance to join the team full-time. Before that, I was freelancing, mostly writing about television, plus an occasional feature for American Theatre.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

An average day typically involves bouncing between tracking press releases as they come in for any newsworthy items for the magazine’s website, writing or interviewing for any feature stories I have in the works, and copy editing, fact checking, and proofing articles for the print magazine.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

Well, I came into Newhouse with absolutely no journalism in my background, I was just a theatre person who enjoyed writing reviews for fun who took a leap at going to school for it. Newhouse gave me the groundwork in what it means to be a journalist. Newhouse gave structure to my interest in writing. Then, working with TheNewsHouse allowed me to take a stab at being an editor both in terms of overseeing copy, but also working with a variety of journalists to cover news and events. Most importantly though, the program introduced me to so many fantastic editors and journalists working in the field, both alums and friends of the program, who have helped me get where I am today.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

When I started at Newhouse, I had my mind pretty set on wanting to be a theatre critic. It wasn’t until I was going through Newhouse that I realized I enjoyed the other parts of journalism—the interviews, the research, the actual reporting—in addition to spouting my opinions for hundreds of words on end.

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it in the first place?

The Goldring program was appealing both because it was only one year, and it was the only journalism program around that allowed me to focus on writing about theatre and the arts specifically. Since I was 27 and had been working a steady job for three years before starting Newhouse, I was looking for a program that could give me the skills and education (especially the basics) I needed while not keeping me out of the workforce too long. Not to mention, it’s really hard to say no to a program that takes you to places like the Toronto International Film Festival and Spoleto Festival USA down in Charleston, S.C.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

The obstacles of writing about the arts have been covered ad nauseum of late. Publications, in efforts to cut down on costs, have been eliminating or severely reducing their arts coverage and arts staffs. I would say that the misconception is that this all means there are absolutely no jobs to be had. The reality is, they’re difficult to find, but they’re out there. It goes back to the old saying that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Newhouse and the Goldring program provided the preparation and, considering all of the chances to meet and talk to people in my field of interest, they also provided the opportunity. The Goldring program gave me a chance to be a little lucky.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

This is tough, since it still feels like I’m so early on. The two that spring to mind are seeing the announcement go out on Twitter that I was joining American Theatre – I knew I was, but seeing it on Twitter made it somehow feel even more official – and having two of my reviews on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s Thanksgiving Day Arts & Entertainment section. Both were just really cool moments of feeling like I’m actually doing this for real.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

I would just say to not be afraid – or too ingrained in your vision for your time at Newhouse – to try new things, skills or classes. For every class I loved, there was another I wish I had also been able to take.

Follow Pierce:

Blake Stilwell G’13

In 2013, Blake Stilwell graduated from the public diplomacy program (now public diplomacy and global communications). This unique dual-degree program is hosted by the Newhouse and Maxwell schools, where students gain a master’s in both international relations (IR) and public relations (PR). 

“The Newhouse School gives its students a broad view of their intended field of study.”

Blake Stilwell G’13

After graduating from Syracuse University, Stilwell began his post-public diplomacy career at the Near East Foundation. There, he worked as a communications fellow, communications officer for the Middle East & Africa, and finally was promoted to media officer for the entire organization. Stilwell now works as associate veteran jobs editor for Military.com.

How did you obtain your current position?

I was asked to apply for my current position after taking a number of freelance writing assignments at Military.com. Before that, I was freelancing for a number of publications after my work was syndicated in a number of different places. I spent more than a year as a freelancer before taking a staff position. I was hired because my main beat—veteran jobs—is a very specific area, doesn’t often find wide appeal, and finding an interesting angle on old stories is really my strong suit.

I started my writing career as the managing editor of the military entertainment site We Are The Mighty, whose editorial and creative voice I helped develop.

Before my public diplomacy program, I worked in media and entertainment, including ABC News, NBC Olympics, HBO Sports, and even spent two years at the White House.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

I start my day with a roundup of the current news in general, and then check on the markets and employment news. Then, I follow up with what’s happening in the Military-Veteran community as a whole, especially taking note of the stories our site has published that day. 

I spend the rest of my day writing pieces relevant to my beat, going back and re-editing older pieces in the channel to keep them fresh and in line with our current style. I also conduct interviews and meet with people on many days.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

I have always said the Newhouse School gives its students a broad view of their intended field of study, so I was prepared with the hard skills needed for what I do all the time, on both sides of the PR relationship. As a media officer, I knew what our stakeholders needed to see to feel good about what we were doing. As a writer and journalist on the other side of that, I know how to get the information I need and how to gather the essential elements necessary to keep my pieces concise, interesting, and readable.

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspect of your field you may have not considered when applying?

The interesting part of the public diplomacy program is that public diplomacy itself is such a wide open, vaguely defined field of work that almost anything can be a bridge between two cultures. I didn’t realize this when applying, but the idea of political changes being made through cultural exchanges is a very interesting prospect. I also never considered that the skill I learned in the military—audio-visual production—could be used to great effect in an international development non-profit.

How did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you?

What I love about the Newhouse CDC is that they are the glue that keep Newhouse alumni together in the most basic professional sense. As someone who covers a jobs beat, I can attest to how important it is to get an edge in getting that big job. When the CDC sends out its alumni openings, Newhouse looking for Newhouse, it reminds me that I’m part of a group that really values its own core training and principles and really acts on that value.

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

I think the biggest obstacle or misconception that people may have about international development work, or working in public service, is that their skills may not be needed. There could be many useful volunteers out there who think that only doctors, farmers, scientists, engineers and the like are the only professions needed to help develop other countries.

But everyone who’s interested in development or building relationships between two societies should know that almost any skill can be used to help develop a country. If you’re a hairdresser, you can train women to use this skill the world over, and it helps them enter the marketplace with a relatively low barrier to entry. If you know marketing, there are a lot of new businesspeople who will soak up principles of marketing they can use in their communities. The possibilities are endless.

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?

Although I love being a writer in the military-veteran space, I think some of my favorite moments have been working with local municipalities to see the innovative ways some people have overcome the unique challenges faced where they are. 

In the Middle East, for example, the Near East Foundation has worked to bring Israeli and Palestinian Farmers together on both sides of the border to help develop the olive and olive oil sectors, called Olive Oil Without Borders. While this is primarily an economic development program, the peacebuilding applications of it are difficult to ignore. I have seen Israeli and Palestinian youth come together for the first time. Watching 70-plus years of animosity slip away as they meet and get to know each other is perhaps one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

I always say start networking as soon as possible. Get to know everyone you can. Be an active member of the student community and make friends with everyone. Many of your classmates will go on to do great things. You may go on to do great things. Everyone reaches their potential with a little help and it may be one of your old classmates who give you that helping hand one day – and then you’ll be able to help someone in turn.

Andrea Henderson G’18

In 2018, Andrea Henderson graduated from the Newhouse School with a master’s in arts journalism. Before attending Syracuse, she worked for local newspapers, websites and magazines in Houston, Texas. While at Newhouse, Henderson was a digital communications intern at Light Work Gallery and a graduate assistant for the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship. Post-graduation, she worked as a podcast intern and then production/news assistant at the National Public Radio (NPR) office in Washington, D.C. Currently, Henderson is a full time reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

“Newhouse opened my eyes to other areas of journalism.”

Andrea Henderson G’18

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it?

A couple of months after I graduated from Syracuse, I accepted a podcast internship with National Public Radio (NPR). The internship taught me podcast production, how to report for a national audience and how to edit and produce for radio under tight deadlines. Once the internship was over, I accepted temporary positions within the company to learn more about audio editing and reporting. Since I knew I wanted to continue on as an audio reporter, I began looking for audio reporting positions across the states and, shortly after, I found out about a grant-funded reporting position. I applied for the job, and here I am today.

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

Andrea Henderson G'18
Andrea Henderson

Each day is different, especially if I am working on a feature audio story. However, I try to start the day at 7 a.m. I check in on news that happened overnight, nationally and locally. While reading the news, I look for a potential story to run a radio spot on that day. I try to make it into the office between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and work until about 5 p.m., but that is not an everyday occurrence. If there is a spot that my editor wants me to work on for the day, then I will report it out in the morning, have two radio scripts ready for edit by 1 p.m., and a short web post for edit by 4 p.m. If I do not have a story to cover, then I use the day to work on scripts, edit audio, research and take meetings with potential sources. I am pretty new to the city, so I use every free moment as a networking opportunity. At my job, I am required to produce two features a month, so when I am light on work, I am in the field collecting sound, interviewing subjects and taking pictures for my next feature. Some days I work until the wee hours (at home of course) and some days I am able to leave the office around 4 p.m. The early days are rare, but they do happen.

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current job?

I really believe it was, first and foremost, the connections I made within Newhouse. All of my professors left a lasting impression on me in some form. Most of them are still in the industry today, which gave me an insider’s look at the area of journalism I wanted to pursue.

A couple of skills that took my career to the next level was learning video and audio editing. Although, I do not use video at my current job, it is still a skill I keep up with for future opportunities. I came into the arts journalism program with long form writing skills, and the AJ courses helped me learn how to say more with less words. 

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?

Please note that, in media, there is no one path to your career. There will be some disappointments when it comes to the job market, so don’t get discouraged if you do not land a job right out of graduate school. You have to continue to apply for jobs, take freelance gigs and temporary work until you receive the job of your dreams. Also, invest in yourself, because the media landscape is everchanging. Do not depend on any one media outlet to be around forever because most likely they will not. Start brainstorming ideas now so that you can be a media entrepreneur in the future.

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

Over the course of your time at Newhouse, be prepared to work and never sleep. However, just know those sleepless nights will pay off in the end. Come in with a plan or at least an outline of what you want to accomplish while in graduate school and make it your goal to complete every line on your list.  Be sure to audit as many classes as you can because you can learn valuable skills without having to pay for the courses. Lastly, get comfortable with networking because you will have to do this for the rest of your career.

When looking for courses, you won’t go wrong with classes offered by Corey TakahashiSean BranaganAileen GallagherJon GlassJim Shahin and any professor in the arts journalism program.

Andrea’s work: