By Geordan Tilley
Geordan Tilley is a junior majoring in journalism and political science, and participated in the 2016 Media Career Trek in New York City. She plans to continue her work as both a producer and a reporter in broadcast journalism. She joined the Media Career Trek to gain a better understanding of the vast range of possibilities within the media field, and to learn more about the industry as a whole.
This summer, Northwestern Career Advancement took students across the country to learn about various industries as part of the Career Trek program. These trips connect current Northwestern students with alumni and other professionals in fields students demonstrate a strong interest in. I had the pleasure of traveling to Manhattan with 16 classmates to learn about the media industry. We visited 10 organizations in three days — ranging from NBC Universal to Viacom to The New York Times – learning about the vast array of possibilities that await us in the field and how we can use our time at Northwestern to best take advantage of them.
We began day one at Hearst, where we received expert advice on how to make ourselves stand out on resumes, cover letters, and interviews. We then went to Vox Media Inc. where we heard from a panel of editors and reporters about their career paths and the significance of passion in each of their careers. Next, at Time Inc. we talked to several Medill alumni about what they wish they had known during their own time at Northwestern and how Medill helped them get to where they are today. For our last stop on day one, we ventured into Brooklyn to visit Slate Magazine. Several reporters discussed Slate’s unique style and the emphasis it puts on its reporters as individuals.
Day two was just as busy. We started by touring NBC Universal, where we ran into Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel on her way to the “Today” show. We then learned about NBC’s internship program and toured the studios. Next, at MediaLink, we heard from Medill alumni about a potentially less known – but just as fascinating – path in media. MediaLink guides companies in their media strategy, helping them keep up with the industry as technology continues to evolve. We heard from even more Medill alumni at our next stop at Quartz, a digital news outlet within Atlantic Media that prides itself on “intelligent journalism.” We learned about “obsessions” at Quartz, which is their way of acknowledging that the world doesn’t fit neatly into beats and encouraging their reporters to follow what excites them. We wrapped up day two with a trip to The New York Times, touring the newsroom as reporters covered Donald Trump’s surprise speech in Mexico. Northwestern alumni at The Times spoke with us about the importance of jumping on any opportunity that comes our way.
Day three was a bit shorter, but just as valuable. We began at Viacom, discussing the state of the industry over a lovely breakfast they provided for us. A young alum spoke to us about the culture at Viacom, her work within different stations like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, and the value she found in each of her roles. Finally, our trek ended at The Wall Street Journal, where one last group of alumni spoke to us about their career paths and gave us valuable advice on being journalists, mentioning that you don’t have to be a financial genius to work there.
We emerged from the trek with a different perspective on what it means to work within the media industry. We took away from this experience a deeper understanding of how to use our strengths in our future careers. While we may not have all the answers for what we want to do in the long-term, we gained incredible insight in what questions to ask in order to get there.