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EliEli Panken is a junior majoring in journalism and political science, and participated in the 2015 Media Career Trek in New York City. He is interested in reporting on news in the science, technology and health fields. Eli chose to join the Media Trek to learn more about the specialization of media, to better understand the role of a journalist in a big publication/corporation, and to hear some fun and interesting stories that Northwestern graduates have from their time in the field.

For the second consecutive year, Northwestern Career Advancement organized different career “treks” for students to take part in. These trips give students the chance to connect with Northwestern alumni and other professionals in some of the top employers of different industries. I had the pleasure of taking part in the Media Career Trek, which focused primarily on some of the top content creating and distributing companies in New York City. I, along with ten other students, was able to meet former Wildcats who now create and manage the content at big time media companies such as the Huffington Post, VICE, Google and the Wall Street Journal. This career trek, along with the six others that take place in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., are fantastic opportunities for Northwestern students to get a better understanding of the job market and what employers are looking for.

Our trek consisted of eight different stops at media companies as well as an alumni networking reception in conjunction with the Marketing Career Trek. Our days consisted of lots of New York City travelling, as many of the companies are spread throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Nevertheless, we were all very excited for each new company and got to know each other very well throughout the days.

In NYC on a behind-the-scenes tour with an executive chef at Food Network.

In NYC on a behind-the-scenes tour with an executive chef at Food Network.

During our first day, we got the chance to visit Viacom Media Networks, the Huffington Post, and the Food Network. Throughout these meetings, it was clear that college-aged interns and employees are strongly coveted at these companies. At Viacom in particular, we got the chance to hear all about their internship opportunities after discussing content distribution management with vice president and Northwestern parent Denise Denson. At the Huffington Post, we met with four Wildcat alumni and discussed what works best in a resume. We were surprised to hear that listing social media ability under skills is, in this day and age, not something that will set you apart from the resume pile. However, links to personal social media are particularly helpful. Our final stop on our first day was the Food Network, where we were able to see where most of the content is created. We walked through a handful of sets and toured their backstage kitchens, where all of the network’s magazine recipes are formulated.

The marketing and media career treks combine to hear from five Northwestern alumni and one current student at Google.

The marketing and media career treks combine to hear from five Northwestern alumni and one current student at Google.

Our second day in New York was a very full one. We began our day at NBC Universal, hearing about their special internship opportunities throughout the company and learning about what goes into creating and covering news specials with Northwestern parent Mark Lukasiewicz. I was particularly fascinated by the amount of planning that goes into news specials, especially those that are breaking news, as well as the careful consideration that a network goes through before announcing certain information about a story. After our time at 30 Rock, we made our way to Brooklyn to visit VICE, a popular investigative journalism and “sociological examination” publication. VICE tends to create a great amount of video content, most of it to be watched online. We got the chance to speak to some editors, writers, and producers – very candidly, at that – about content production and the VICE workplace experience. Our final visit of the day was at Google. Here, our trek met up with the Marketing Trek to hear from NU alumni about the hierarchy of the company and some great skills and attributes that many companies, Google included, look for. After a quick tour of the company’s massive building, our two treks made our way back to 30 Rock for an alumni networking reception. This was a fantastic opportunity to get to know other NU alumni working in our fields of interest and have in depth conversations about career pursuits, interests, and best practices. I felt much better about reaching out to alumni in the future after I had been able to speak to a few during this reception.

Eli and other trek participants discuss sourcing, content creation, and thematic journalism at the Wall Street Journal with Northwestern alumni and industry professionals.

Eli and other trek participants discuss sourcing, content creation, and thematic journalism at the Wall Street Journal with Northwestern alumni and industry professionals.

Our final day in the Big Apple began at the Wall Street Journal. There, we met with Emily Glazer, a Northwestern alum and experienced reporter, who gave us countless advice on how to be the hardest working and passionate employee that we can be, no matter our profession. We also had a chance to sit in on a Journal morning news meeting where editors and reporters discussed what news would be placed or released during that day’s news cycle. I was enthralled by the amount of careful consideration the editors went through before choosing what to run in the daily paper as well as online. We finished off our trek at People Magazine. We met with four NU alumnae who discussed with us the magazine creation process and their pathways to People.

Overall, this trek was incredibly fun and informative and I would highly recommend it, as well as the other NCA treks, to anyone who feels uneasy about his or her future career. The trek gave me a better understanding of what companies are looking for in terms of interns and employees as well as a better grasp on what it takes to work in the media business. It was also very calming to hear from the many Wildcat alumni that are so willing to help and support us current students as we transition from college into the workforce.

Many of the companies featured on the Media Career Trek are coming to campus in the 2015-2016 academic year (including Time Inc, Huffington Post, and NBC Universal). If you’re interested in learning more about internship and post-graduate opportunities, check the ‘Events’ tab in CareerCat or reach out to Katie Farrington on the Employer Recruiting Team at NCA.

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