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STORY NOTE: During spring break 2017, 13 College of Media students and one journalism instructor visited 11 media outlets in New York City on a career and internship trip. The following summary was written by students Shahzmeen Hussain and Fatima-Tul Farha.

 

After this year’s insightful and educational journalism trip to New York City during spring break, 13 University of Illinois journalism students returned with a new outlook on the media industry. Visiting media outlets and speaking with a variety of journalists, producers, editors and writers yielded an experience unlike any other, especially regarding our careers.

In just three days, we learned a more about this thriving industry than we had known before. We explored a number of news organizations that gave us a better understanding of the professional world of journalism. We visited 11 outlets, starting with Vox Media, and continuing on to the New York Times, MSNBC, Business Insider, Skift, New York Magazine and Fast Company. On a separate day we also visited InStyle, Epicurious, MLB.com and Vice Media.

The most beneficial of all was interacting with Illinois alumni over dinner in Little Italy, giving us an opportunity to informally network and make connections.

All of us had unique experiences and we each took something away from the entire trip that we believe will be helpful for us in the future as we continue on to build our careers.

For senior Aryn Stanley, the favorites of the 11 outlets were MSNBC and InStyle. MSNBC fits her goals and interests for her career path. InStyle’s creative environment also really inspired her. To Stanley, the most insightful part of the trip was the prospect of moving up in this industry through networking and marketing.

Students visit MSNBC“The most inspirational portion of the trip was meeting people who were in my shoes at one point, and are now leaders at major companies,” Stanley said. “It proved that the sky's the limit, and I can truly achieve anything as long as I have faith, a strong work ethic, and a great network of people who I aspire to be like.”

Kayla Martinez, a sophomore, said her favorite place to visit during the trip was Vox, which she felt was “modern, young and fresh.” For Martinez, the most insightful part of the trip was meeting with Illinois journalism alumni, who she said gave her the fresh outlook that she wanted about living and working in New York. Students visit Vice in NYC

Martinez also said that spending time with the alumni and seeing how much they love their job really inspired her; she learned that despite all the hard work that is required to make it ahead in this industry, success is still attainable. 

“In a casual setting, we were able to converse professionally as well as realistically, getting an in-depth perspective as to what life after graduation can be like, and how we can prepare ourselves right now for life in the professional world,” Martinez said. “The alumni were extremely welcoming and helpful, offering genuine advice and pointers.”

Graduate students Christine La and Anisa McClinton were part of the trip. La said students were warmly welcomed at each stop on the trip. “I love the genuine interest in the success of our future. During the trip, I learned was the importance of a strong work ethic in the media industry.  Nothing beats passion, hard work, and a good attitude,” La said. Students at The New York Times

McClinton called the trip very beneficial.  “Each alumnus was open about their experiences after they moved to New York and how school got them to where they are today. I learned about multiple programs and opportunities through the trip that I will apply for this year,” McClinton said. “I wish I had gone (on this trip) sooner!”

Meeting with the alumni helped many of the students on the trip. Juyeon Kim, a junior, said her favorite outlets were MSNBC and Vice, especially from her broadcast journalism major standpoint. She firmly believes that simply sitting in classrooms is not enough to know exactly how it would be to work as a journalist in the field. By going on this trip, she now has a better idea of what it takes.

Kim also said this trip helped her gain some confidence in regard to finding a job after commencement; she said speaking with the alumni showed her that it is acceptable to go through many jobs before finding the right one for her. Being in New York City and being around journalism experts made Kim more confident about choosing this career path.

“I think I was mostly inspired by the aspirations and drive of the alumni,” Kim said. “It made me realize that this profession really is not for people who "kind of" want it. It made me think that I really need to step up my game.”

The rest of us on this trip also shared these sentiments. Senior Lizzie Jassin said the alumni really helped her understand the importance of making connections.  Jassin was also impressed about how New York is a great place to kickstart a career.

Jassin also said that journalism students should take advantage of these trips in the future because it would help them to understand how exactly to go forward in this profession. She said a lot of the tips and advice she received from the skilled professionals at the news outlets were ones she will carry with her. Some of her main takeaways were: “Always take the job” and “Be great at being you.” Student visit Business Insider

“Basically hard work pays off was the main thing I took away,” Jassin said. “We were told at every media company that passion is the number one thing they look for. I am so inspired now!”

Each of these outlets provided us with different perspectives into the many media sectors. We learned about how many paths there are to take in the media industry, and there are many ways to explore them as well. All of us were able to take something beneficial and positive away from just three days on this trip, and it is something we would recommend to any journalism student in the future. Being an aggressive journalist is synonymous to being good journalist and as Eric Gillin, Executive Director of Epicurious, would say, “You have to make your own breaks [in this field].”

Special thanks to College of Media alumni in New York for hosting/guiding students:  Jane Karr, Greg Lindsay, Shalayne Pulia, Tiffany Champion, Caroline Pahl, Kevin Kaplan, Drake Baer, Anna Hecht and David McCraw - this year's College of Media convocation speaker.

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