MSUD Journalism and Tech Comm Grads Doing What They Love

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Posted Thu, Dec 10, 2015

Adam Reynolds

“My degree helped a lot by giving me AV skills to start the business.” — Adam Reynolds

Do What You Love
By Rachel Bruner

DENVER — Adam Reynolds certainly lives by his motto: “Do What You Love.”

The alumnus started his own photography and video production company, Acentric Video, Inc., along with sister companies Dance Pixs and Enchanted Photo Studio.

Reynolds, who earned a technical communication degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2003, said the program was most helpful in teaching him color theory and editing, as well as audio and visual skills.

“My degree helped a lot by giving me the AV skills to start the business,” Reynolds said. “I have been able to advance the business because of the education and knowledge I learned taking [technical communication] classes.”

Yet Reynolds passion for the field is evident not just by the businesses he runs, but by his willingness to spend his busy schedule volunteering to shoot photos for a food and clothes shelter. And giving his time there proved to be a smart business venture, too.

“… I also interviewed a board member who owns a large heating and plumbing company and is interested in videos,” Reynolds said. “So by being seen at the volunteer shoot, I ended up landing a paying gig.”

Reynolds advice, particularly for students nearing the finish line at the University, is to take advantage of internships, to have people skills and, as his motto tells, that if you’re into video, do it because you love it.

“Do what you love,” Reynolds said. “Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Network, be humble, yet hustle and have empathy.”

“I work with basically everything. I manage the whole communications effort for the organization.” -- Joe Marquez

“I work with basically everything. I manage the whole communications effort for the organization.” — Joe Marquez

Joe Marquez, the still “speedy Roadrunner”
By Keifer Johnson

DENVER — For Joe Marquez, the highlight of a day at work is the high pressure situations. Those moments when you have to think fast, act quickly, and pull everything together in minutes. A group project with a deadline set right in front of their faces gives Marquez the fire to burn hot and get things done.

“I like those moments. They’re stressful, but fun,” Marquez said.

Marquez is an MSU Denver Alumni, and a manager of systems communications for the Colorado Community College System. He graduated from MSU Denver in 1992 with his Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and a bag full of hands on experience to jumpstart his now thriving career.

With 13 community colleges under his jurisdiction, Marquez keeps busy on any given day. He works with IT, telephone, legal, lobbying and public relations at every community college in Colorado.

Communication careers come with their own type of baggage. Communicating means speaking about the good stuff and the less than pleasant scenarios. After over 20 years in the field, Marquez has learned what makes the job easy and what is more difficult. While the high stress situations are still his favorite, some types of stress are almost painful for him to deal with.

“Negative stories are the worst,” Marquez said. “Like, we are always stretched for resources. With the economy’s drop in 2008 we lost some funding. So letting people know we are going to have to raise tuition is never a fun time. We constantly try to keep that balance, and keep it affordable for our students.”

Even outside of the direct media, the communication of tough times is not an easy task for Marquez. Staff getting let go is one of the hardest things, he said, and it always hurts to say goodbye.

It is an extremely important field in his own eyes, and Marquez thinks he brings something to the table that others might not.

“I work with basically everything,” Marquez said. “I manage the whole communications effort for the organization.”

A PLETHORA OF JOBS

MSU Denver helped set him up for this sort of plethora of jobs, Marquez said. If not in classes with his favorite professor, Dr. Bob Amend, the extent to which he interned for MSU Denver was what gave him the groundwork necessary.

“I got my start at Metro’s work study. I worked my way to the department’s that would help me the most. I think I ended with the title ‘Media Coordinator,’” Marquez said, “and Bob Amend was a big help to me. He basically taught me everything I needed to be aware of.”

Getting to work with the Colorado Community College System has kept him close to home. Marquez returns to Auraria’s campus frequently, with the Community College of Denver right on sight. He even surprised Dr. Amend with a visit to his classroom one day.

“It was cool see him again,” Marquez said with a laugh.

Some might dread the idea of returning to work with the University they got their first degree in, or at least look down on the organization a bit after years of essays and exams. Marquez may not work daily with the university, since it is not a community college, but he enjoys it when he gets to link arms with the organization for a time.
“We (CCCS) partner with Metro a lot. We’re great allies,” Marquez said.

Maybe it is nostalgia for his video editing days on campus that make him happy to come back to MSU Denver, or the now hilarious memories of having no air conditioning and hand pouring water into cooling units.

“It was awful back then, but easy to laugh at now. I remember dripping sweat while editing a recruitment video for the football team. Man it was miserable,” Marquez said.

WILLING TO WORK FOR FREE

It was these hard times that Marquez thinks gave him the opportunities he has today. While the air conditioning scenario has changed since he was attending MSU Denver, the idea of internships has stuck around for the last two decades.

“If I can give any advice to current students, it’s to be willing to work for free. Start building your resume now,” Marquez said. “Overworked older professors will give you some great opportunities, but you have to be around.”

So is it the days of 100 degree heat and lightning fast deadlines that gave him the love for work time stress? That is hard to answer, but Marquez seems to believe that is exactly what got him ready for those scenarios in a career, and boosted him along to where he is today.

“I learned through that. I got to practice how to do it, and when I left Metro I had already done tons of work. Then I really knew how to throw it all together,” Marquez said.

“My degree and education opened more doors for me than would have been possible otherwise.”  -- Bailey Geoghan

“My degree and education opened more doors for me than would have been possible otherwise.” — Bailey Geoghan

My Degree Was Everything When It Came To Finding My Job
By Yara Weber de Santana

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Currently an encode technician at NBC Universal in Centennial, Bailey Geoghan knows the struggles of the job search after graduation.

“It was very difficult, and very frustrating, to find a job after graduation,” Geoghan says. “Job hunting was basically a full-time job in itself.”

Every year, hundreds of students graduate from universities and do not know where to start looking for a job. However, many don’t realize that getting a degree is what opens up a lot of doors for them.

“My degree and education opened more doors for me than would have been possible otherwise,” Geoghan says. “My hiring manager actually says that he has heard ‘good things’ about the TechCom program at Metro, which I firmly believe was a part of his decision to hire me.”

She also says that the mandatory internship she had to do for her PR minor was as important as the class work itself to help her find a job after college. It doesn’t always, or often, come easy. Geoghan spent seven months looking for a job before she found her current one.

“I wouldn’t have my career right now if it weren’t for networking,” she says. “By talking to other professionals in the industry that you want to work in, you will learn about what you need to do to reach your goals.” She urges students to network with their professors, who are there for students, and that are experienced and active in the field. Also with fellow students and people who you meet along the way while studying.

“These people [professors] truly want to see you succeed. I still talk to many of the professors I met at Metro,” she says. “They still offer me invaluable advice and resources.”

It is hard to find jobs in this day in age. People and employers are competitive and want the best, but students should go into the workforce with the understanding that entry-level jobs is where they have to start.
“Don’t expect to make six figures right out of college,” Geoghan says. “Be ready for an entry-level position that will leave you broke for a while after college.”

These are the jobs that will give graduates the tools they need to climb up the ladder and prove their value to the employers.

“At the start of your career, experience is more valuable than money.”

don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, even when things seem impossible.” -- Hañalina Lucero-Colin

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, even when things seem impossible.” — Hañalina Lucero-Colin

Put Yourself Out There
By Rachel Bruner

LOS ANGELES — Hañalina Lucero-Colin’s best advice to students on the road to a journalism career may be “… don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, even when things seem impossible.”

Lucero-Colin knows her advice well. The Metropolitan State University of Denver journalism alumna, who just graduated in 2015, has already moved to Los Angeles to pursue video-oriented work.

Lucero-Colin took advantage of putting herself out there from the get-go. While in the process of earning her degree, she wrote for The Metropolitan and interned with Go World Communications for its website GoWorldTravel.com.

She said those out-of-the-classroom experiences helped with her freelancing career decision by being the biggest pieces of her portfolio, but she stressed to journalism students already in the process of building a portfolio to make sure to get it together today.

“Seriously, guys. Start your portfolio now,” Lucero-Colin said. “It sucks trying to go back and find things you can barely remember writing in the first place.”

And, for students who have yet to be published, building that portfolio doesn’t necessarily have to come from work done outside of the classroom.

“Take your assignments seriously. If you do a nice job on something, keep it,” Lucero-Colin said. “You aren’t a professional yet and most jobs will see the effort you put into your class work as a reflection of your work ethic.”

But sometimes, even with all of the hard work that goes into a portfolio, it may be tough to land a job. That’s why Lucero-Colin also stresses to students, “just don’t give up!”

“You’re going to send out about a hundred resumes and maybe two people are going to call you,” Lucero-Colin said, “and it’s hard not to get discouraged, but you have to keep trying.”

And Lucero-Colin offers that the best ways to keep trying is to take on freelance work, to take on short contract jobs, to get creative by starting up a blog or video channel but most importantly, by taking advantage of networking. She said she’s made friends at MSU Denver that she still collaborates with.

“Listen to your professors and make friends with your classmates,” Lucero-Colin said. “You’re in a program rich with industry professionals. There is a wealth of knowledge at your disposal in the form of your fellow students.”

Besides the opportunities Lucero-Colin is pursuing in Los Angeles, her most recent freelance venture, set to come out in November, is a main feature article in Where Guestbook magazine’s Colorado edition. She says she feels “fancy” freelancing, but that it’s tough trying to keep motivated. She adds, though, that if students can tell stories and want to learn, the rest works itself out.

“It’s hard work,” Lucero-Colin said, “but if you’re doing something you really love and care about then it’s hardly work at all.”

Jerry Roys

“I listened to my instructors, [and] took nothing for granted.” — Jerry Roys

Roofing, Reporting and Resilience
By Haley Black

DENVER — There is a saying that says successful people never stop learning.

An MSU Denver Journalism and Technical Communications alum decided that it was never too late to learn something new in order to follow a completely different career path.

Jerry Roys is a self-published author, musician and journalist. He pursued a career in writing fresh out of college after starting his own roofing company, which he still owns today. However, the phrase “fresh out of college” contains a different meaning.

Roys made the life-altering decision to attend MSU Denver at 46-years-old after only receiving an eighth grade education and earning his GED.

The three-time self-published author of Shape Shifter, Shape Shifter II: The Metamorphosis Project and Barrio Boy Blues struggled with his writing skills after returning to school, but stuck with it because he knew he loved to hear and to tell stories.

“I could not write to save my soul, but I applied myself to my studies, and I listened to my instructors, I asked questions and I took it all in. I took nothing for granted,” Roys says.

Application and dedication are ultimately what got Roys through college despite the gap in years of schooling.

Journalism students know the importance of getting internships to network and gain on-the-job experience. An internship at the Rocky Mountain News was pivotal for Roys to get fully engaged in the journalism field. He may have been the oldest intern in the office but he did not let that intimidate him.

During his time at MSU Denver and The Rocky Mountain News, Roys’ beat was strictly law enforcement. His motto for this beat is: “If it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead.” Roys was faced with the unpleasant, fragile job of interviewing the family members of murder victims. “I had to get stories out of people on the worst day of their lives,” Roys says.

These delicate situations led Roys to fine tuning his craft in interviewing. He has the ability to make his sources feel comfortable enough to open up.

“One former legislator recently told me that doing an interview with me is like having a therapy session,” Roys says.

The MSU Denver alum is still contributing to the school and is currently writing a textbook for the Chicano Studies program. The Richard T. Castro Book Project covers need-to-know information about Colorado Latino politicians and activists. The passionate interviewer has compiled all of his interviews with sources on film in hopes of creating a documentary parallel to the textbook.
The writer is also a bass player and has been since he was 12 years old. He spends his free time playing gigs in two bands, Thick as Thieves and Geronimo’s Cadillac.

As a roofer-turned-journalist who has a passion for playing music on the side, Roys has a diverse range of talents that have the hard work to back them up.

“If there is nothing for you, no job, then create it. Be bold, but do it with caution; know what your limitations are at the time,” Roys says.

It is never too late to take an alternate route.

“The more you put in, the more you’ll get out...try to look at school as practice for the real world and take advantage of the resources available to you." --  Megan Amendola

“The more you put in, the more you’ll get out…try to look at school as practice for the real world and take advantage of the resources available to you.” — Megan Amendola

Megan Amendola
By Kavann Tok
DENVER — Megan Amendola is a project manager for a creative solutions company, Design & Image. D&I specializes in brand strategy, brand expression, graphic design, messaging and marketing activation for local and national brands and nonprofit organizations.

As a project manager, she serves as the point of contact for clients, liaise between internal and external teams and oversees all aspects of projects, large and small.

In addition to developing skills that are proven useful in her everyday work, having a degree has given her confidence. She felt qualified for the type of job she desired, and it taught her a valuable lesson in tenacity.

Advice for Students

“The more you put in, the more you’ll get out,” Amendola says. “Try to look at school as practice for the real world and take advantage of the resources available to you. Regularly read job descriptions of the type of position you would like to land when you complete your degree program. Take note of the skills and experience they are looking for, then use every opportunity you can to practice and hone those skills. Use elective opportunities to advance these competencies. When you have freedom to select a subject matter or company to write about or study, select those relevant to the career you hope to transition to. Create mock work and consult your professors to review and critique your work.”

Amendola goes on to say that students should work for free. Seek opportunities to volunteer and get your hands dirty in your desired career field to gain experience and connections. The relationships students build are so important when they join all of the other qualified candidates looking for a job in such a competitive marketplace.

“One thing that has been neat for me is how the skills I learned through journalism courses apply to a career that isn’t necessarily in the same field as my major,” Amendola says. “For instance, the practice of interviewing sources, listening and distilling facts and information down to the most important items has helped me formulate creative briefs that are effective and to-the-point. So it’s good to be open-minded and aware of how your skills can stretch and adapt to different career opportunities.”

“The great thing about Metro is the focus on real world skills." -- Jesus Sierra

“The great thing about Metro is the focus on real world skills.” — Jesus Sierra

The Hidden Truth about Internships
By Yara Weber de Santana

DENVER — You hear it every day: Complete an internship. It will help you out. You will gain experience.

Yet, do students listen to the advice? Most of the time they don’t, and Jesus Sierra was one of them.

“While at Metro I worked fulltime and didn’t have time for internships,” Sierra says. “The people I know that did internships gained a lot from the experience.”

Sierra is a Civilian Supervisor for the High Activity Location Observation (HALO) unit with the Denver police Department. Their job is to use the city’s cameras to assist officers on the street and protect the people of Denver. He credits his knowledge and endeavor to Metro.

“The great thing about Metro is the focus on real world skills. My program had a huge emphasis on how each new skill will come into play in the real world.”

And he was able to use that to excel at the University of Denver when going for his masters. However, when he graduated he found a part-time job that was not in his field of choice and yet, he never gave up on what he really wanted to do.

“Don’t give up the job search or your dreams because of roadblocks,” he says. “Keep searching and keep applying for the positions until someone says yes. If you have to take a lower paying job for higher back-end potential then do it.”

Getting the experience is not as easy as it sounds, especially coming right out of university. And that’s where internships come in handy. They are not only a great way to put into practice what you learn in class and the theory that is mentioned in the books, but to take a step further into the “real world” and the workforce.

“When you see job notices that ask for years of experience for entry –level positions you can use internships as a way to fill that gap between student and professional,” Sierra says. “You don’t have to love your job to be great at it.”

After all the hardship to find his job, Sierra remembers Metro dearly. “I loved my time at Metro. Having gone to graduate school and getting a look at different college cultures and environments, Metro is far and above the best and constructive school,” he says.

“I still cherish my time at Metro and think back to my classes on a regular basis as I deal with issues at work.”

“Learn all you can from your professors, but more importantly, learn from each other and teach each other.” -- Robert Weber

“Learn all you can from your professors, but more importantly, learn from each other and teach each other.” — Robert Weber

Robert Weber
By Khaleel Herbert

DENVER — Robert Weber graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in Technical Communication with a concentration in Corporate Communications and Training.

“I had been working in that field for over 10 years and I enjoyed it,” Weber said.

Upon graduating, Weber said his degree at MSU Denver gave him a renewed zeal, desire and confidence to take his career to the next level.

“It improved the way I interact with my peers and my managers,” Weber said. “I now take on projects that I may have shied away from in the past.”

Weber gained many important things from his degree, but narrowed it down to two:

  • Expressing himself and listening to others
  • Time management

He said expressing himself and listening to others helped encompass written, verbal and several forms of digital and new media. Online courses also helped Weber because they taught him to work on projects with teammates in a virtual format.

“This is especially important in my current job because I travel over 60 percent of the time and need to stay in touch with a dispersed team,” Weber said.

In time management, Weber said he greatly improved. While attending MSU Denver, he usually took three classes a semester and worked a full time job.

“I was fortunate that I worked for a great company, had a very supporting family, and outstanding professors,” Weber said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support that everyone gave me.”

Weber’s advice to future journalism and technical communication students intertwines in and outside of the classroom. “Learn all you can from your professors, but more importantly, learn from each other and teach each other.”

Weber added, “Classes are what you make of them. You can either be a passenger or one of the drivers.”

Weber is currently employed as a technical trainer at TeleCommunications Systems Inc. He works in the sector that provides a software suite to 911 Public Safety Answering Points. He is responsible for training customers to use the software. He also writes, edits and updates the company’s training materials.

 "Look at every opportunity that crosses your path.” -- Tiffany Trott

“Look at every opportunity that crosses your path.” — Tiffany Trott

Try Something New
By Rachel Bruner

DENVER — If there’s one thing Tiffany Trott could teach journalism students, it’s to “… not be afraid to try something new.”

“I was, and still am, a very shy and introverted person,” Trott said, “so being able to break out of my shell and talk to people was the key for everything falling into place.”

And Trott, who graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1995, has definitely broken out of her shell. The journalism alumna has made a career for herself, having worked for The Denver Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Idaho Statesman, SportsIllustrated.com and the gone-but-not-forgotten Rocky Mountain News.

With her expansive journalism track record, Trott has found what’s key for a journalist is to know how to “…talk to anyone in any situation at any time.” She said that knowing how to write well is important, but that even more is knowing how to talk to people.

“Anyone can have great writing skills,” Trott said, “but without the people skills and creativity that talking to others brings out [in] you, it would all just be bland words on a piece of paper.”

 Cease the opportunity

Trott’s other advice to students is to “… look at every opportunity that crosses your path.”

She certainly did this herself, having worked for The Metropolitan during her MSU Denver years, and she encourages students to look for newspapers as a future career path.

“There are still plenty of newspapers around the country that are looking for folks to write and report for them,” Trott said. “That small town newspaper may be the spot where you develop your style, break a story that no one else could get and become your springboard to greatness.”

She also said it’s important for journalism students to consider several areas of study, such as taking advantage of learning audio, video and photography, because “… being able to do it all is what everyone is looking for.”

“I was asked to do a one-week blogging gig for SportsIllustrated.com that turned in to [over two] years of me doing NFL and NCAA live blog coverage for the website,” Trott said. “Had I been closed off to doing a one-shot job, I would have missed out on those two great years.”

Trott has taken her own advice to look for new opportunities as well in the marketing trade. An Internet marketing manager at Suss Buick GMC in Aurora, Colorado, her current job includes managing the company’s blog, social media content, digital marketing and vendors.

 Enjoy life

Throughout the journey a journalism career will take students on, Trott emphasized that students should “enjoy life!”

“You will encounter highs and lows as you go down the path,” Trott said, “but remember to stop and take in the scenery and smile at how far you have come.”

“Whatever you learn in college, you can use it in one way or another." --  Leslie Harper

“Whatever you learn in college, you can use it in one way or another.” — Leslie Harper

Leslie Harper walks the line from graduate to continued care
By Keifer Johnson

DENVER — Leslie Harper has been working at Echostar, a satellite broadband service company, for 16 years. Her title has changed plenty of times, but a few things have stayed exactly the same.

Harper adaptation to the needs of her employers, and the want to continue to learn have been both the driving force and the reason for her change. After almost two decades worth of a career at Echostar, she has gained experience, opportunities, and passion for her work.

Around 16 years ago Harper started at Echostar in the marketing department at a base level job that she enjoyed, but was working for little more reason than just to work.

“One day they asked me to write a script for some customer referal videos,” Harper said. “I had never written script before, but I gave it a try and had a lot of fun.”

When Harper finished writing her script, she was asked to read it for a camera so they could get a feel for what her inflections were.

“A few days later I was talking to the leaders of that project. They said that they loved my script, which was great. I remember asking ‘so who did you end up choosing to read it?’ they gave a quick response with ‘we decided on you!’” Harper said.

Very quickly after Harper had added some extra work onto her plate she was handed even more. She jumped into writing more script, and recording videos for instruction on Echostar’s products. A class in technical writing at University of Colorado Denver prompted her to follow more education in technical communication at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“Metro was difficult sometimes, but I still use everything I learned,” Harper said.

I has been more than 10 years since Harper got her certification in technical communication, and a lot has changed in the way of technology since then.

“I learned all of my video editing on a now outdated software,” Harper said. “But all the same ideas still apply. Ideas like temperatures, white and color balance. Stuff like that.”

While she might not do all her own editing, she at least knows how to communicate with the editors, and she knows what to look for when it comes to video editing.

“Whatever you learn in college, you can use it in one way or another,” Harper said.

The courses she took and information she learned are still in use today, and the people she has met through school have been big influences in where she is now. This happened in both MSU Denver, and at Boise State University where Harper got her Master’s Degree.

As a sitting member of the International Society for Performance Improvement, Harper was able to make some worthwhile connections even while getting her Master’s Degree completely online. By meeting several professors at get togethers for the organization, she got offered a job as an adjunct instructor at Boise State.

“I like having a class, having deadlines. It keeps me organized,” Harper said.

Harper was also introduced to an out of work passion of hers while at MSU Denver. Thanks to a professor at MSU, Harper began a life involving ice hockey over a decade ago and has been connected with it ever since.

At this point, she is the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche Adult B team for Sledge Hockey. Sledge hockey is hockey for the physically disabled, where they sit in a ice riding sled and play with two sticks.

“Other than that, the rules are about the same. It’s really fun to watch, they really check and play hard!” Harper said.

Harper has come a long ways from her first day at Echostar. Coming from a basic marketing position up to where she is now, she enjoys her work thoroughly.

“I help employees want to come to work everyday,” Harper said.

She gives much credit to her time at MSU Denver, as well as Boise State. She wants students now to know how important this time in their lives is.

“Be in the moment, and be present. If you’re barely getting by and passing, but not learning much, what are you going to do with that? Take advantage of your opportunity,” Harper said.

“When it comes to journalism, it’s much easier to learn while doing, so in addition to classwork, people should be out doing actual journalism.” --Alti Vicens

“When it comes to journalism, it’s much easier to learn while doing, so in addition to classwork, people should be out doing actual journalism.” — Alti Vicens

Atli Vicens
By Preston Morse

Atli Vicens is a reporter for the Washington, D.C. bureau of Mother Jones magazine and a 2006 graduate of MSU’s journalism department. He covers a broad range of topics for the magazine including military, police and political issues and even the occasional UFO story.

His responsibilities in the office also include cleaning and analyzing data sets to help other reporters and editors make sense of their content.

Vicens credits his journalism training and MSU newspaper experience in launching his career.

“I was able to get the basics under my belt for that entry-level job,” he says. He also reflects back on how working for the campus newspaper gave him practical experience and a basic idea of how the industry works. “When it comes to journalism, it’s much easier to learn while doing, so in addition to classwork, people should be out doing actual journalism.”

What advice does Vicens have for today’s journalism students? He urges them to develop a working knowledge of all aspects of modern journalism like writing, reporting, research, videography and data visualization. He also wants newcomers to understand the business of journalism. “The wall between advertising and editorial is necessary, but that doesn’t mean reporters shouldn’t know how their work is actually delivered to an audience,” he says.

Vincens advises future graduates to think about their dream job, and work backward from there. “Who do you need to know to work there? What sorts of skills set those particular journalists apart? What skills do you need to work on?” He also suggests getting out and doing actual journalism as early and often as possible. “Don’t turn down a job or a fellowship or an internship because it’s a small outlet. Go somewhere and start working,” he says. “Start flexing those muscles as early as possible.”

“Get ready to work hard for what you want. That’s one of the reasons it’s very important to think about what you want early, so that you’re always working toward your ultimate goal.”

“You might hear that print journalism is on the way out and that it is dying. This is simply not true. The business is evolving and figuring out how to survive." --David Pollan

“You might hear that print journalism is on the way out and that it is dying. This is simply not true. The business is evolving and figuring out how to survive.” –David Pollan

David Pollan
By Conor Hatch

David Pollan, Journalism BA ’08, is an editor for Community Impact Newspaper based out of Austin, Texas. The paper focuses on business development, transportation, infrastructure, healthcare and education.

Pollan also writes, edits, designs and much more. Without his degree in journalism, he would not be anywhere near to where he is today. It enabled him to find the opportunity to work for Mile High Newspapers, the Aurora Sentinel, Yahoo! and now Community Impact Newspaper. Pollan says his degree got his foot in the door and to progress into the writer he is today and prepared him for the professional world of journalism. The most important thing Pollan gained from his degree is how to practice journalism and how to be objective.

Some Advice he would give to current students and students that are about to graduate: “You might hear that print journalism is on the way out and that it is dying. This is simply not true. The business is evolving and figuring out how to survive. There are so many opportunities out there for young journalists who want to practice the trade they studied. There will always be a need for information. Journalists play a vital role in that.”

Pollan says to follow your dreams. Do not sacrifice following your dreams. There is always a way to figure things out and make things work. If you want to be in journalism, then go into that field first. Once you leave the industry, you never go back. Never.

Stay away from the dark side of PR and communications as long as you can,” Pollan says. “If you have a passion and drive to practice journalism, then go with it. Ride the wave of journalism as long as you can and want. Get as many internships as you can while in school.

Pollan adds that students should work for their student newspaper or the student media office. Practice your craft. Write every day. Gain as much experience as you can in the industry before you graduate.

“The most beneficial thing for my future career and me was not so much my degree in journalism, but rather my time working for The Metropolitan. The student newspaper, hands down, prepared me more for the future than anything else. “

“Get an internship at a local TV station or production company,” Burleson says. “Go early in the morning, go out with crews if that’s your ambition, put in extra hours, show them that this is more to you than college credit.” -- Josh Burleson

“Get an internship at a local TV station or production company. Go early in the morning, go out with crews if that’s your ambition, put in extra hours, show them that this is more to you than college credit.” — Josh Burleson

Josh Burleson
By Preston Morse

Josh Burleson is a freelance television shooter, editor, producer and a 2005 graduate of MSU’s Technical Communications department. He primarily focuses on news and documentary stories and has worked with NBC, ABC, Fox News and PBS, among others.

Burleson credits his experience at MSU in giving him the mindset and tools to achieve his career goals. “For me, the real benefit was in having the opportunity to use the equipment that Metro provided to the students in the Tech Comm program,” he says. “It was the extensive hands-on time with equipment that turned out to be my best education, and I couldn’t have gotten that in any other way.”

So what advice has Burleson have for today’s journalism students? He stresses the importance of real-world experience. “Get an internship at a local TV station or production company,” Burleson says. “Go early in the morning, go out with crews if that’s your ambition, put in extra hours, show them that this is more to you than college credit.”

For the best benefit, Burleson encourages students to actively engage in their internships. “If you work hard and show great interest, you will leave an impression, and it’s the impression that will take you to the next level,” he says. “People want to help the ambitious intern to learn, and they completely forget all the rest of them.”

For journalism students about to graduate from MSU, Burleson suggests persistence, personal interaction and keeping your eyes open for opportunities. “I got my original breaks into the production business by knocking on doors, by showing up in person.”

"Don’t be cocky...show people you WANT to learn and that you don't know everything." -- Jeremy Crawley

“Don’t be cocky…show people you WANT to learn and that you don’t know everything.” — Jeremy Crawley

Jeremy Crawley
By Conor Hatch

Technical Comm BS ‘14
UXUI Design for STARZ Entertainment
Jeremy essentially gives guidance to developers to make apps look good and function in a manner that makes sense to their customers. Without his degree in technical communications, he would be nowhere comparable to where he is today. Jeremy dedicates his career to his degree and the process he followed; he started out with getting an internship, and used his experience with the internship to apply for jobs.

“Its hard to pinpoint the most important thing I learned in school,” Crawley says. “I think that proper knowledge and practice with certain computer programs definitely helped me step ahead. That and a creative drive to make cool things whether it be for school, a client or personal. It was also important to learn about hard deadlines and how to manage and present my work. School made me feel like I didn’t have an option to fail because of all the debt I had accumulated throughout the years.”

Some advice he would give to students and perspective graduates:
-“Brush your teeth
-Ask Questions in school
-Make Friends in your department
-Find a Competitive fuel among your classmates because if you can’t get the job they might
-Get pissed when your teachers tell you that your work isn’t great. Use it to get better
-Don’t be cocky…show people you WANT to learn and that you don’t know everything
-Be Cocky when you work hard
-Be fluid in your Career Path, things might not go as planned but it could turn out great
-Learn to be on time or early
Be professional when you send emails
-Presentation is important for resumes
-Bring old work to interviews
-Dress up if you have to
-Fake a good personality if you have to
-Shake hands firmly
-Eye contact
-Gravitate toward people at work that will help you improve and learn
-Ask questions
-Read about the company you are applying for before the interview
-Find career heroes, people at your work or in the media…find people who you want to strive to be like (job wise and financially)”

"The only difference between me and the guy who has gone further than me, is that the other guy wanted it more, he tried harder, and he fought harder." -- Kent George

“The only difference between me and the guy who has gone further than me, is that the other guy wanted it more, he tried harder, and he fought harder.” — Kent George

Kent George
By Conor Hatch

Tech Comm BA ’98 with MSU Denver later on received his Masters in Telecommunications Technology from Denver University
Senior Manager of Presales Engineering at At&T/Direct TV
Kent believes his degree in technical communications played heavily in the type of work that he ended up doing. Kent says his video experience in the Technical Communications program and the work he did with Tech Comm. Professor, Bob Amend at MSU Denver truly opened the doors to another world of video production ultimately leading up to his career today.

One of the first jobs George landed during his time at MSU Denver was work on the telecommunications wiring at the Dove Valley facility (Broncos practice facility) and filming them as well. Through tasks like these Kent gained the knowledge and the experience to go on and start his own video productions company, started filming extreme sports that he loves such as; BMX, snowboarding.

George eventually did video work for many local professional teams such as the Denver Nuggets, and the Colorado Rapids. One of his most special memories throughout his career was being able to work and interview with rap star, Coolio during a Denver Nuggets halftime show. The most important thing he gained from his degree at Metro was the overall experience that the program opened up, the feeling of a sense of direction and being on the right ultimately leading up to what he is doing today in telecommunications.

Some advice he would give to student and students that are about to graduate:
*Analyze your passion and make sure that you invest your time accordingly in the things that are worth your time,” You’ll find some things in life that aren’t necessarily worth doing, but it’s analyzing the things in front of you, your passions, and seeing if whether or not that is where you want to take your life and if you want to put your time into that.
*The only difference between me and the guy who has gone further than me, is that the other guy wanted it more, he tried harder, and he fought harder.
*To make your dreams come true you have to put whatever you have to do back into it.
*It’s a matter of how hard you try and how bad do you want it.

"Professors at Metro State brought practical experience to the classroom." -- Fred Bering

“Professors at Metro State brought practical experience to the classroom.” — Fred Bering

Fred Bering
By Nicole Ault
CHICAGO — Fred Bering is a manager for emerging technology at Global Health Communications Abbott in North Chicago. Before his career, Bering studied business communication, a multimedia major, at Metro State. He explains that professors at Metro State brought practical experience to the classroom.

“I learned the how to and then applied them,” Bering said.

Bering encourages students to dedicate themselves to getting a degree.

“Learning won’t stop at college,” he said.

Bering also tells students it is important to know you and your story. This will follow you through college and your career.

“Looking back on it, Bering said. “I enjoyed my time as a student and I miss Colorado.”

Brent Fisher
By Kavann Tok

KENT, Wash. — Brent Fischer is the Technical Training Manager for Novinium specializing in underground power cable restoration. He is responsible for developing effective training strategies that directly influence safety, operations and ROI.

The most successful students are those who are willing to do the work necessary to achieve their goals.”

“The most successful students are those who are willing to do the work necessary to achieve their goals.” — Brent Fisher

Fischer has been in a training role for over 10 years with the military and various companies. His degree in Technical Communications helped bolster his portfolio to be a more desirable candidate when looking for career advancements and opportunities.

In his line of work, Fischer applies at least one thing from every class he took at Metro State University. The ability to tie together all of the technical and theory components of his degree has proven to be a positive impact on his career.

Advice to Current Students

Fischer’s advice to students today is “self accountability. I saw a lot of students make excuses. Metro State’s student body is composed of a lot of non-traditional students who are balancing school, work, families and other personal commitments. The most successful students are those who are willing to do the work necessary to achieve their goals.”

Fischer’s career advice to students is to network.

“A degree alone will not get you a career,” explained Fischer. “In this job market, you also need experience and you need to know people. School should be a rewarding experience,” he added. “Make the most of it, work hard but have fun with it!”

[Greg Pearson] drove home the importance of clear, evocative writing, high journalism ethics and accuracy, accuracy, accuracy." -- Jessica Sachs

“[Greg Pearson] drove home the importance of clear, evocative writing, high journalism ethics and accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.” — Jessica Snyder Sachs

Jessica Snyder Sachs
By Nicole Ault

NEW YORK — Jessica Snyder Sachs graduated at Metro State with a bachelor’s degree from the journalism department. She claims to have learned a great deal of her trade from Greg Pearson, the head of the department at the time.

“He drove home the importance of clear, evocative writing, high journalism ethics and accuracy, accuracy, accuracy,” Sachs said.

Pearson also wrote her a career starting recommendation. To this day Sachs still considers Pearson to a be a guiding light in her career.

Sachs now works as the director of science communications for the research and advocacy nonprofit Autism Speaks. She is located in New York City. Sachs previously worked as a freelancer and even has two science books published, “Good Germs, Bad Germs and Corpse.”

Sachs encourages students to challenge themselves while in school.

“Set yourself the highest of standards,” Sachs said. “By exploring all outlets and challenging yourself you will go farther with your career.”

"I credit my internships with being the real foundation that launched my career." --  CarrieAlsvaryPic!

“I credit my internships with being the real foundation that launched my career.” — Carolyn Alsvary

Carolyn Alsvary
By Mariama Fofanah

PT: What type of work are you doing today and where are you employed?
Carolyn Alsvary graduated in 1998, with a BA in Technical Communication. Alsvary currently works at Starz Entertainment as Director of Promotion Planning and Scheduling. Her positon, she manages the on-air promotion for all of our programming.
PT: How did your degree help you obtain your job or advance your career?
Alsvary: “My degree was in Communications at MSU. While at MSU I took journalism and television production classes which taught me the basics of the industry. I credit my internships with being the real foundation that launched my career. I did three different internships with a local television station in various departments including Promotions, Production and Master Control. This is where I found my passion was in Television Promotions.”
PT: What was the most important thing you gained from your degree?
Alsvary: “My degree has been instrumental to my career success by opening up career opportunities that I would not have been eligible for without the degree. Perhaps the most important thing I gained from the degree however was the internships that lead directly to launching my career.”
PT:  What advice would you give to students today?
Alsvary: “My advice would be to embrace internship opportunities, try to stay on top of technological changes in the industry and make sure you have a general understanding of business functions. Education is your foundation for success, but a combination of skills and networking is what will propel your career to new levels.”
PT:  What career advice would you give to students about to graduate?
Alsvary’s advice to students about to graduate is to create long term vision for where they want to be in 5 years. Then make break your goals into achievable steps that can be done daily. Alsvary added that students should keep alert to changes within the journalism industry and technology and maintain the connections with fellow students, professors and co-workers.
PT: Anything else you would like to add?
Alsvary: “Consider furthering your education. A master’s degree will open more doors to leadership opportunities.”
PT: Thank you in advance for your time.

“Find ways to network whether it’s joining a professional association, interning after graduation, or making new connections on LinkedIn.” -- CatherineHamm

“Find ways to network whether it’s joining a professional association, interning after graduation, or making new connections on LinkedIn.” — Catherine Hamm

Catherine Hamm
By Mariama Fofanah

DENVER — Catherine Hamm is currently a Public Relations and social media specialist for Arcadis, an international design and consultancy firm.

PT: How did your degree help you obtain your job or advance your career?

Hamm: “The skills I learned at Metro provided me with the skills I need to excel in my position. My position required a bachelor’s degree in public relations. Without my degree I would not have been employable.”

PT: What was the most important thing you gained from your degree?

Hamm: “No matter what job you get after graduation, writing and communication skills are imperative.”

PT: What advice would you give to students today?

Hamm: Make sure you get as much experience as possible in your field through internships, jobs, and/or campus involvement. It will be very difficult to get a job without experience.”

PT: What career advice would you give to students about to graduate?

“Find ways to network whether it’s joining a professional association, interning after graduation, or making new connections on LinkedIn”.

PT: Anything else you would like to add?

Hamm: “Hard work will pay off.”

"Take big risks in your early years and strive to be a lifelong learner." -- Sean M. Miller

“Take big risks in your early years and strive to be a lifelong learner.” — Sean M. Miller

Sean M. Miller
By Mark Goldman

PT: What type of work are you doing today and where are you employed?

Miller:  I’m a product manager for CenturyLink, helping to build software, networking, cyber security, telephony, and IT product roadmaps, most recently for customers and prospects in the health care, legal and financial services industries. In my seven-year tenure with the company, I’ve held broad responsibilities, ranging from directing marketing communication agencies to leading product development efforts in the cloud.

PT: How did your degree help you obtain your job or advance your career?

Miller: Broadly speaking, my verbal and written communication skills have been fundamental to my career. Beyond that, through my time at the university. I learned to tell stories.

PT: What was the most important thing you gained from your degree?

Miller: Broader perspective on the world.

PT: What advice would you give to students today?

Miller: Become comfortable with technology. The Associated Press, among others, is already leveraging advanced algorithms to analyze events and craft stories. In the very near future, that will fundamentally change the work of communication professionals.

PT:  What career advice would you give to students about to graduate?

Miller: Take big risks in your early years and strive to be a lifelong learner.

PT: Anything else you would like to add?

Miller: Don’t underestimate what you are capable of. Dream big. Enjoy yourself.

"Create a high quality video portfolio and a professional looking resume that can captivate the employer." -- Danny Cook

“Create a high quality video portfolio and a professional looking resume that can captivate the employer.” — Danny Cook

Danny Cook
By Mariama Fofanah

DENVER — Danny Cook graduated in 2011, with a BA in Technical Communication. Cook is involved in professional video production. Cook is employed at FOX 31 and Channel 2 News (both stations are in the same facility). His position is video editing news stories for broadcast.

Cook also works for Effective Presentations as a senior video producer. He job entails video shoots, editing and audio capture for commercial and promotional pieces.

PT: How did your degree help you obtain your job or advance your career?

Cook: “My degree (BS in Technical Communications and Media Production) helped me achieve my current positions by way of creating a solid video portfolio and a concise resume. Having a degree gave me a boost in finding a career within one month of graduating. My video portfolio was highly regarded by the chief video editor for FOX and Channel 2 News.”

PT: What was the most important thing you gained from your degree?

Cook: “What you learn about your trade can make you better at the work you do, but the people you meet and the perspective you gain can really help propel your career forward.”

PT: What career advice would you give to students about to graduate?

Cook: “Never give up and remember, it is YOU who molds your future to be a success, with a positive attitude, hard work and resiliency, things will fall into place! Graduating is only the beginning of a challenging process to achieve your dreams. You have completed College, but now the real challenge begins…finding a job! Denver has many Media production outlets.” Cook advices students to create a high quality video portfolio and a professional looking resume that can captivate the employer.

PT: Anything else you would like to add?

Cook: “My experience at Metropolitan State University of Denver is priceless! I would recommend any one to the University in search of a good education in the Tech Comm department. For me, having an education, juggling a family and a career has proven to be a challenging but wonderful life experience, it has its ups and downs, but I would never trade it for the world!”

“I learned how to approach people when shooting a story, how to work with reporters, how to edit and write stories. I learned to meet deadlines and most importantly, I learned how to work under stress.” --  Lillia Munoz.

“I learned how to approach people when shooting a story, how to work with reporters, how to edit and write stories. — Lillia Munoz.

Lilia Munoz Bio
By Khaleel Herbert
DENVER —
Lilia Munoz graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in Journalism and a concentration in Photojournalism.

“I chose photojournalism as my concentration because that is exactly what I hoped to do someday as a ‘grown up,’” Munoz said. “There’s something so fascinating and powerful for me about telling a story with images and I just loved it.”

Munoz said she is currently a production tech at Fox 31 Denver. “As a production tech I do several different jobs for the morning news show,” Munoz said. “I am a floor director, camera operator, audio tech and teleprompter operator.”

Munoz said she received her job through Metro. She met her boss through a program that Metro sponsored and had recommendations from her professors.

“I now work in the complete opposite side of the news than what I studied, so they took a huge chance in hiring me while having no experience,” Munoz said. “I firmly believe it is because my professors put in a good word for me.”

The most important thing Munoz gained from her degree were knowledge and relationships. “I think that building those relationships and networking is super important for getting any job, specially as a journalist.”

The advice that Munoz gives to future journalism students is:

  • Build relationships
  • Meet people in the field
  • Intern as much as you can

“Internships will save your butt after graduation,” Munoz said.

On career advice, Munoz tells students not to get discouraged.

“The world is scary, ‘specially for journalism majors,” Munoz said. “You hear every day how newspapers are closing and firing people, but if you don’t give up, you’ll find your place.”

Munoz learned every aspect of working in a newspaper through her internship at the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

“I learned how to approach people when shooting a story, how to work with reporters, how to edit and write stories,” Munoz said. “I learned to meet deadlines and most importantly, I learned how to work under stress.”

Munoz added that during her internship, she was given the opportunity to cover the September 2013 floods in Colorado and her photos were published in a book.

“That was the most memorable experience of my career and my biggest accomplishment so far.”

“I was lucky at MSU Denver to learn from many experienced professional journalists who returned to teach.”

“I was lucky at MSU Denver to learn from many experienced professional journalists who returned to teach.” — Steve Musal

Steve Musal
By Khaleel Herbert
CHICAGO —
Steve Musal graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2015 with a double major. One in English with a concentration in writing and the other in Journalism with a concentration in convergent journalism.

Currently, Musal is a candidate for a Master of Science in Journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and working for the Medill News Service in Chicago.

“Studying journalism at MSU Denver prepared me very well for the Master of Science in Journalism program at Medill,” Musal said. “I was lucky at MSU Denver to learn from many experienced professional journalists who returned to teach.”

Musal added that the depth of experience from professors is the best part of studying journalism at Metro.

Musal learned various things in journalism at Metro. He learned how to balance a firm grasp on reporting skills with the current trends of journalism. He also learned that a combination of knowing writing, the Web, video and photography is necessary.

Some of Musal’s advice to students today include:
• Learn the basics of the Web programming language known as HTML
• Learn how to work with stories, video, audio and still photography for the Web
• Know copyright rules inside and out
• Don’t neglect interviewing and basic writing skills regardless of your intended focus
• Learn the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics and follow it in everything

“Buy a suit,” Musal added. “No matter how cheap it has to be for you to afford it.”

Although Musal did not have an internship, he gained some experience in the journalism field by working five years in the Public Affairs Department of the military.

“Having experience in the field of communications whether as a journalist, a public relations flack, a public information person or even a blogger is absolutely necessary for a professional journalist,” Musal said.

Musal added that an internship is one way to gain experience but not the only way. “Talk to your adviser about what is right for you.”

“Every position is beneficial for your growth and advancement in a career.

“Every position is beneficial for your growth and advancement in a career.” —  Sarah Lock-Smith

Sarah Lock-Smith
By Kavann Tok

Sarah Lock-Smith is the Events & Operations Coordinator at Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado’s only nonprofit 501(c)6 trade organization exclusively representing the states 12,000 plus beef producers. CCA’s commitment to its members lie within these four faculties:
● Government Affairs
● Issue Management
● Communication and Outreach
● Member Service and Benefits

Internship Experience
“I would encourage students to have at least one internship,” Lock-Smith says. “You never know what other opportunities it may lead you to even if it isn’t directly linked to your degree. My first internship was for former United States Senator Mark Udall at Washington, D.C. Not only did I gain a better understanding and appreciation for our government and political process, but I also got to live in and explore a new city, while making connections and contacts who I’m still in touch with today.”

As part of her major, Lock-Smith was required to have at least one internship but she has two. Her second internship was at Colorado Rural Electric Association for their publications department, interning for about six months until she graduated from MSU. A few weeks after she graduated, the administrative assistant position opened up. She was hired immediately and worked there for about three years. Currently, she is working at CCA for almost a year and loves it.
“I’m so happy my major required an internship!” Lock-Smith says. “It opens many doors.”

Education at MSU Denver
Lock-Smith’s degree is in journalism with an emphasis in public relations.
“The public relations department is relatively small at MSU so it really taught me accountability,” she explains. “In a classroom with only 10 students, the professor knows when you’re absent. Many of my public relations classes were smaller so everyone was given the chance to participate and form a relationship with the professor and fellow classmates. This really gave me a hands-on learning experience, which I would say was the most important gain for me.”

Advice from an Accomplished Alumni
Lock-Smith is also a big advocate for the Social Documentary courses which are offered in the Fall and Spring semester. The course is for five days and offered to journalism and photojournalism students. As a class, they travel to a different city in the United States. Students pair up to explore the city in search for unique people, places and things to write a feature story about. At the end of the day, the class meets for a three-hour critique where the students share a rough draft of their photographs and stories.

For this project, Lock-Smith traveled to Washington, D.C. and San Francisco and felt that the experience helped her writing tremendously. She highly recommends it.
Her blog from the Social Documentaries: http://sarlodenver.blogspot.com/

Final Thoughts
Lock-Smith admits that the job market is competitive.
“Don’t get discouraged and keep applying, and don’t be too selective,” she says. “Every position is beneficial for your growth and advancement in a career. Don’t turn down a job based on the title. Everyone has to start somewhere.”

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