MSU Denver Alumni Reaching New Horizons

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Posted Tue, Dec 13, 2016

"Don't rest on your laurels in your last year or last semester. Apply for as many internships as you can, be aggressive when looking for internships and jobs, Sara Photo

“Don’t rest on your laurels…apply for as many internships as you can, be aggressive when looking for internships and jobs.” — Sara Whitney

The Art of Open Horizons
By Catherine Kerr

With a degree in journalism and soon to be acquired events management certificate under her belt, MSU Denver graduate Sara J. Whitney finds herself with new and interesting opportunities. Her most recent professional experience was a marketing copywriter.

“My degree and skills have definitely led me to some interesting roles,” Whitney says. “It’s the wide variety of exposure to people and ideas that makes a journalism degree so versatile and worthwhile. The best and most important thing I gained is a very scalable set of skills that have virtually universal applications. Journalism, public relations and marketing are obvious areas, but writing and editing skills are attractive to many positions and fields.”

Along with the right degree, Whitney provides bits of advice to current and former MSU Denver journalism students from her experiences.

“I know it can be intimidating to put yourself in front of people for assignments, interviewing, photography, stories, etc.; but, now is the perfect time to get yourself out of your comfort zone and try things out.”

Whitney adds, taking full advantage of these stages of learning and creating your focuses is crucial to the steps to become successful upon receiving your degree.

“These courses provide the learning ground with the safety net of not having it be a real-life reporting assignment,” she says, “so take this as your opportunity to experiment and find the writing style, interviewing style, etc. that works for you. Once you find your style, you’ll start all of your assignments (and later apply for work) from a position of strength and confidence.”

Whitney lends some wisdom for graduating students. “Don’t rest on your laurels in your last year or last semester. Apply for as many internships as you can, be aggressive when looking for internships and jobs, and don’t be afraid to talk up your skills and experiences, even as a student or recent grad (without over embellishing, of course).”

Whitney emphasizes the importance of the Senior Ethics class she completed while attending MSU Denver. “With as much vitriol as there is flung at the media, it’s important to understand how very seriously we take ethics and integrity; this class helped me have some serious, respectful and enlightening discussions with others to show them that.”

I certainly gained a lot from the program. I learned a great deal about how to have a vision and how to represent myself through my personal style from professor Kenn Bisio.”

“I certainly gained a lot from the [Photo Journalism] program. I learned a great deal about how to have a vision and how to represent myself through my personal style from professor Kenn Bisio.” — Emily Varisco

Emily Varisco Following Her Vision
By Victoria Toutant

Emily Varisco, a freelance photographer and a private rock climbing coach, shoots for the News Journal, a Gannett-owned daily based out of Wilmington, Delaware as well as for The Associated Press. She also worked for the Met during her senior year at MSU Denver, which gave her experience putting together stories and gave her a reasonable solid portfolio to show her potential employers.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have gained a lot from my degree,” Emily said, “but I certainly gained a lot from the program. I learned a great deal about how to have a vision and how to represent myself through my personal style from professor Kenn Bisio.”

According to Varisco, Bisio really fostered her confidence and helped her discover her reason for doing what she loves.

“I appreciated that he was blunt and that he pushed me and called me out when I needed to be called out. He taught me to separate myself from my work and not to take criticism negatively, which is a really important concept once you get out of college.”

Emily’s advice that she would give to students that are about to graduate, “Apply everywhere and don’t think that you are too good for any job. Gain experience as quickly as you can, and be easy to work with — it will take you really far, just be willing to go and do so wholeheartedly.”

“Have your own vision and stick to it. Work hard and get better. The news industry will spilled on you all the time, but it will absolutely make you feel better if you are willing to learn, and resist the urge to get defensive about your work. Take the criticism and move on.”

“I think MSU Denver offers a great education because it is near the heart of the downtown Denver business community, and its faculty and staff are in touch with current industry needs.”

“I think MSU Denver offers a great education because it is near the heart of the downtown Denver business community, and its faculty and staff are in touch with current industry needs.” — Lisa Bradshaw

Lisa Bradshaw Giving Back To MSU Denver
Arielle “Razi” Taggart

In 2003, Lisa Bradshaw graduated from Metropolitan State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Technical Communications with a minor in Art. It would not be long before Bradshaw would return to her alma mater to teach as a member of the Journalism and Technical Communication department.

On top of teaching the courses Writing for Interactive Media and Media Graphics Production, Bradshaw is an Instructional Designer with Pearson. Her current duties include working with subject-matter experts, multimedia developers and web developers to design and incorporate chosen media for online courses.

With the experience she has gained during her time at MSUD and throughout her career, Bradshaw advises students to focus on all aspects of their degree and sharpen additional skills while attending college.

“Employers look for soft skills like good communication skills (written and oral), ability to contribute to teams, problem solving abilities, etc.,” Bradshaw said. “Think about these as you take your classes and how you can enhance soft skills while in college, and how you might use them in your future career.”

As a student at MSUD, Bradshaw not only learned about the type of tasks and files used in the business industry, but also gained the confidence to be proficient in her skills. Her degree helped her career by preparing her to work with technical documents, media and graphics files. Bradshaw is very satisfied with the experience she gained at MSU Denver.

“I think MSU Denver offers a great education because it is near the heart of the downtown Denver business community, and its faculty and staff are in touch with current industry needs.”

For students that will soon graduate with a Journalism and Technical Communication degree, Bradshaw advised graduates to continue doing their homework and seek help to be successful.

“Network and do research about the companies or organizations you would like to work for. Make your resume very professional and have it reviewed by someone at MSUD’s job placement center,” Bradshaw said.

The beneficial guidance Bradshaw provides is accompanied by her years of experience with MSUD. While attending, Bradshaw was a student employee responsible for redesigning the Journalism department’s various web pages. After graduating, she continued to work for the department full time as an Online Communication Developer/Coordinator. With an educational grant, now called Teaching with Primary Sources, Bradshaw was a Project Coordinator.

“I am proud to be an Affiliate Faculty member for MSU Denver,” Bradshaw said. “It has made me happy to contribute to the University in those various roles.”

“Nowadays, just having a college degree is not enough, so if you can get a campus job like working in Met Media or having multiple internships, that’ll make you stand out a lot more.” -- Mike Tolbert

“Nowadays, just having a college degree is not enough, so if you can get a campus job like working in Met Media or having multiple internships, that’ll make you stand out a lot more.” — Mike Tolbert

Mike Tolbert Pursuing His Dream
By Earl Grant

College students struggle while in school to prepare themselves for the ugly truths of the professional world. Yes, corporate America demands students build a portfolio’ with published works, and employers require previous work experience on your resume as well. If you need an example of college student that leveraged himself professionally, look no further than Mike Tolbert.

Tolbert, a Metropolitan State University of Denver journalism graduate, used his MSU Denver education to secure employment prior to graduation.

“I currently work part-time at The Denver Post as the sports editorial assistant. I am in charge of putting in stats and wires for the print version.”

Tolbert also works as a tour guide for Colorado Sports Hall of fame at Mile High Stadium. Students across the country should take notes on Mike Tolbert’s steps to success. He took the initiative as student to do more than just attend class. For almost two years, Tolbert worked as the Sports Editor for the MSU Denver student newspaper the Metropolitan, while he maintained full-time employment. Make no mistake, as Tolbert views his academic prowess as a major key to his success.

“Pursuing a journalism degree has helped me get into the position I am today,” Tolbert says, “because it gave me a platform to do something I love.”

We often hear the cliché “do what you love,” and Tolbert is walking talking proof of the benefit of pursuing a career you are passionate about.

“As journalists, there should be a level of morality and responsibility set for people on the job. Especially, with the emergence of social media, everyone thinks they can say whatever. Taking advantage of the Code of Ethics allows journalist to maintain the truth when reporting.”

Tolbert’s reputation as dedicated and focused is not an act. He shared other vital tips for students to leverage their stock as soon-to-be professionals.

“Take advantage of every opportunity,” Tolbert says. “Nowadays, just having a college degree is not enough, so if you can get a campus job like working in Met Media or having multiple internships, that’ll make you stand out a lot more.”

The daunting tasks juggling of academics, family, professional development and adhering to your corporate work schedule is challenging. However, Tolbert offers solutions that are practical and self-inclusive. He does not mention expecting a handout of for someone to “hook you up.” Tolbert hooked himself up.

“Once you have a firm identity as a journalist or writer, expand your range and start to cover things you or others wouldn’t expect. The point is to become a well-rounded journalist.”

“Get an internship! That’s the best pathway to a career that I have observed.” -- Jeff Hammond

“Get an internship! That’s the best pathway to a career that I have observed.” — Jeff Hammond

Former Professors Give Advice on How to Succeed After College
By Adam Uribes

After four or five years of hard work, determination and delayed gratification, a student earns a degree in a chosen field and sets out on his way in the world. Too often, though, students aren’t given the correct advice on how their degree comes in handy, or what to do with it when they leave college.

John Hammond, a Technical Communications major during his time at Metro State University of Denver took some time to elaborate on the type of work he is currently doing and how it helped him in the workforce after college.

Hammond would earn his degree and then go on to use it to come back to MSU Denver and become a professor of Video Production, where he teaches two Introduction to Digital Production classes.

“It paved the way for me to qualify to serve as an adjunct instructor beginning in 1996 at Red Rocks Community College,” Hammond said.

While Hammond gained the type of knowledge needed to go into his chosen field after his schooling, he says the most important thing he received from his degree was the drive and motivation to keep going.

Some students get caught up in the grade point average. Hammond says the most important advice he can give a student is, “Bring passion to everything you do, and don’t be afraid to fail. It is often said that 80 percent of success is just showing up, and that is really true. Jump in, participate and always keep asking questions!” He adds, “Get an internship! That’s the best pathway to a career that I have observed.”

Hester

“My education helped me work hard.” — Walter Hester

Walter Hester aiming high
By Zach Wood

Metropolitan State University of Denver graduate Walter Hester is a photojournalist for The Estes Park Trail-Gazette.

“I believe my degree helped me in obtaining my job and probably helped me hang on at a small newspaper for a lot longer than many,” Hester says.

Without the degree the job opportunities wouldn’t have presented themselves to Hester. Not only did the MSU Denver degree help Hester in finding job, but it also helped his work ethic.

“My education helped me work hard, probably even harder than my wife thought I should have,” Hester says.

Photojournalism has many encouraging upsides, such as being out in the field rather than sitting at a desk. However, sometimes it can be stressful work with long hours without the top-notch pay. Hester loved the work he was able to accomplish during his time in the field.

“The advice I would give to a student that is about to graduate is aim high,” Hester says. “Get in on as big of a market as you can. Also stay hungry and flexible. The more you can do the more valuable you will be to an employer.”

 

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