Posts tagged Alumni

Alumni Spotlight – Stephanie Steinberg, U.S. News & World Report Assistant Editor

Stephanie0054Stephanie Steinberg is a 2012 alumna in Communication Studies. Currently, she is an assistant editor at U.S. News & World Report who covers health and money. Stephanie edits and writes content that helps her readers make informed decisions about their health and finances.

Communication Studies: Tell us a bit about the path you took to get where you are.

Stephanie Steinberg: Despite all news about struggling publications and declining readerships, I truly believe that if you want to be a journalist today, you will find a job. You just have to be willing to put in the time and energy and work for it. In addition to working at the Michigan Daily during the school year, I spent every summer during college interning for a media organization. My first internship after freshman year was at The Oakland Press, which helped me build up clips and learn the basics of daily reporting. The following summers I interned at USA Today, CNN and The Boston Globe. The key is to not be intimidated by top publications and to aim high, even if you don’t think you’re qualified.
The Globe internship was the summer after I graduated. (Another tip: Don’t be afraid to do an internship after college. It gives you the flexibility to just enjoy your last semester on campus and not worry about job hunting.) I then found a job at WTOP Radio, which is the main news, traffic and weather station in Washington D.C., and worked as an online editor for a few months. A job then opened at U.S. News & World Report to edit the health and money sections. I enjoyed learning about the radio industry, but my heart is in print and longform reporting, so I applied for the U.S. News job and am very grateful to the editors who hired me. Here I am three years later!

CS: You recently published your first book, “In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at the Michigan Daily.” Can you tell us about what inspired you to write it and elaborate on the process?

SS: The book is a collection of essays by 40 journalists who all started their careers at The Michigan Daily. I edited their stories and wrote the introduction, but the credit really goes to them for writing the book!

In 2011, I was the Daily’s editor-in-chief, which meant I was in the newsroom over 80 hours a week. Over all four years the Daily became a very important piece of my life, and I felt indebted to it for kick-starting my career. I came up with the idea for the book about two years after graduation. I knew the 125th anniversary of the Daily was coming up in 2015, and I thought something should be done to commemorate the paper and 6,000 alumni. I then thought a great way to do that would be to tell the stories behind the stories printed in the Daily, and let the reporters and photographers share what really happened before their story or photo landed on campus newsstands.

So I contacted alumni now working at top publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, you name it, and I asked them to write a first person story. The book starts with the March on Selma in 1965 and goes through Vietnam War protests, presidential elections, Sept. 11 and the present day. The sports journalists also talk about covering Rose Bowls and what it was like to interview Bo one-on-one, and there’s a good Daily love story by the deputy Wall Street Journal editor Rebecca Blumenstein and author Alan Paul, who ran against each other to be summer Daily editor-in-chief. (That turned out OK because they’re now happily married with three kids.)

I have to thank the University of Michigan Press, which made this book possible. They were the first (and only) publisher I pitched the book to, and they were immediately interested. Being connected with the University, I knew they would understand the purpose and message of the book, so I didn’t want to work with any other publisher.

You can read more about the book on the University of Michigan Press website here.

CS: What UM classes or extracurricular activities did you find particularly helpful in your job field?

SS: For four years I worked, ate and even slept sometimes at The Michigan Daily. My roommates must have thought I was a ghost because I’d come home to our house on State and Catherine after sending the paper to print at 3 a.m., and then wake up when they all were at class.

While I took some stellar communications classes related to journalism – specifically Professor Anthony Colling’s ethics in journalism, supreme court news and foreign news coverage courses – I really learned everything I needed to know about how to be a journalist at the Daily. Margaret Myers, who’s now an editor at PBS NewsHour, wrote in her story for the book, “I got my diploma from the College of the Michigan Daily.” And I feel the same way. You learn how to be a journalist by being out in the field and making mistakes – and there’s no better place to make journalism mistakes than at a student newspaper with which readers and sources tend to be a little more forgiving.

CS: When did you know what field you wanted to go into? What experiences led you there?

SS: I consider myself lucky that I knew “what I wanted to be when I grew up” since third grade. In elementary school, my dad signed me up for a local TV show called “Kid Stuff.” Essentially, kids acted as cub reporters to tell local stories. Through that experience, I interviewed zookeepers at the Detroit Zoo, reported on the streets of city holiday parades and gave book reviews at Borders. One of my favorite segments was a feature package on the Franklin Cider Mill. The journalism bug bit me, and from that point on, I knew I wanted to tell stories for the rest of my life.

Fast-forward a few years: I became an editor for North Farmington High School’s newspaper The Northern Star and learned the power of the pen from my journalism advisor Nikki Schueller. When I was accepted to Michigan, I immediately emailed the Daily editor-in-chief at the time to find out how I could join the staff. I walked into the Daily during Welcome Week and never stopped walking through that door.

CS: What motivated you to pursue a Communication Studies degree?

SS: Like I mentioned, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. So I was a little disappointed when I found out the University didn’t have a journalism major. I decided Communication Studies would be the next closest major. It was a great decision, as I became friends with dozens of students with similar interests and my professors understood when I needed to leave class early to cover an event or interview University President Mary Sue Coleman.

CS: Describe a day-in-the-life at work.

BestCollegesDaySS: U.S. News & World Report is all digital now, so the majority of my day is spent editing stories on my computer. Stories go through two edits, and I’m usually the first editor, which means I fact check everything (references to studies, sources’ names, etc.) I also edit for grammar and style, so the AP Stylebook is my best friend. If something doesn’t make sense in a story, I’ll leave questions for the reporter to answer. The reporter then addresses all my edits, and we’ll go back and forth until the story is ready for the second editor, who looks for any glaring errors or holes before sending it to production.

I actually edit two U of M graduates – health & wellness reporter Anna Miller and real estate reporter Devon Thorsby – and we usually leave comments to each other like “Go Blue” whenever a story happens to quote a U of M professor.

I will say, I don’t have any role in producing the college rankings (that’s the education team). But I do go all out on Best Colleges day when the rankings are released, and I deck out my desk (and myself) in Michigan gear. I’m proud to say the Michigan grads won the Most School Spirit contest this year!

CS: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned from your job?

SS: I’m going to cheat a little in this question and steal a passage from Michael Rosenberg, the 1996 Daily editor-in-chief who now writes for Sports Illustrated. In the book, he wrote:
“I did not have to spend as much time at the Daily as I did, but I learned one of the most valuable lessons in life, and it’s not a journalism lesson: If you love what you do, it won’t feel like work, and you will never feel overworked. It helps if you love the people who do it alongside you.”
I also learned that lesson at the Daily, and it applies to any job I have or ever will have. At the end of the day, it’s the people you work with who matter. You could have a stressful, draining job, but if you work with people who care about you and want you to succeed, that stress, and the work you produce, will be well worth it.

CS: What is your favorite UM memory?

SS: That is such a hard question! I have so many. If I have to narrow it down to one, it would be the night President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Minutes after he won, thousands of students spilled into the Diag chanting “Obama” and “It’s Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine!” and “The Victors.” Students waved American flags, rung cowbells and someone even started playing a set of bongos. The crowd then moved down State Street and paraded to the President’s house and down South U. before heading back to the Diag. I was a freshmen at the time and had never seen such pure joy and optimism expressed by so many people my age. Students were crying tears of joy as we walked down the streets. It was a historical moment, and I felt like I was part of a new era.
Four years later, I witnessed a similar spectacle outside the White House when Obama was re-elected, and I went to the scene to take pictures for WTOP Radio. Again, mostly a younger crowed gathered outside the gate. But it wasn’t the same: They weren’t wearing maize and blue and chanting “The Victors.”

CS: Since you are in the Communication Studies industry, are you able to disengage from thinking critically about the media-saturated world and if so, how?

SS: It’s impossible not to think about the media when you’re a part of it, producing stories, tweeting and trying to keep up with the 24-second Twitter news cycle each day. I try to remind myself to step back and take a look at the bigger picture though and remember that one story can have a profound impact on one person. For example, the health and money stories I work on provide advice for readers to improve their health and financial well-being. Readers often write to us, saying our reporting helped them make a decision about a certain medical treatment or figure out how to invest their money for retirement. So on the bad news days when it seems like the world is imploding with shootings, terrorism and crime, I try to think about the readers and remind myself that the kind of journalism I produce is meant to help people – and tomorrow will hopefully be a better news day.

CS: Provide some advice for students working towards internships and full-time opportunities in the communications field.

SS: Do everything you can to secure an internship each summer and build up your work experience – internships do count as work experience! Also go above and beyond what’s expected of you as an intern. If you’re asked to write two articles a week at a publication, write four. If you’re asked to submit five story ideas, submit 10. Constantly ask what more you can do to help your boss – and be genuine about it. Your eagerness and enthusiasm to perform well and learn will make you stand out from the other interns.

Also ask others in the company who you admire, or have a position you would like one day, to grab coffee or lunch. Find out how they got to where they are today, and pick their brains for job advice. Then stay in touch with occasional emails after you leave the internship. In the communications field especially – where job competition can be fierce – it helps to network. A job sometimes comes down to who you know who’s willing to pass along a positive recommendation.

Most importantly, be nice to everyone. You never know. The intern working for you today could become your colleague or even boss one day.

Guest Alumni Blogger: Radhika Menon (’13), Digital Media Planner at Media Storm

RadhikaRadhika Menon is a 2013 alumna in Communication Studies and Psychology. Currently, she is a Digital Media Planner at Media Storm in New York City, working on the Starz Network account. She works to promote new Starz programming across digital media partners such as The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN and others.

 

Communication Studies: Tell us a bit about the path you took to get where you are.

 

Radhika Menon: I became enamored with finding a career in the entertainment media field in college when I interned at The Mark Gordon Company, a TV/film development house in Los Angeles. Afterwards, I sought out more local opportunities on film sets, at social media companies, and at film production companies, and shortly after graduation I decided to move to New York City. I interned at a music public relations firm before moving into a digital role at L’Oreal. About 2 months ago, I used that digital training to transition into my current Digital Media Planning role at Media Storm.

 

CS: When did you know what field you wanted to go into? What experiences led you there?

 

RM: I started college thinking that I wanted to go into medicine. After a very rude awakening during general chemistry, I realized that I should play to my strengths — and science was not one of them. I took one Communication Studies class and knew that this was the right field for me. From there, the internships that I did really helped to solidify that decision.

 

CS: What UM classes or extracurricular activities did you find particularly helpful in your job field?

 

RM: I still find that many of the Communication Studies classes have not only made me a smarter viewer and more abstract thinker when it comes to media, but also influence my approach when tackling promotion to different demographics. I also worked at the Michigan Daily in the Arts section, covering TV, which gave me my first true foray into the media industry.

 

CS: Describe a day-in-the-life at work.

 

RM: The best part about this field is that no two days are the same. Since I’m working on a robust account like Starz, I’m usually working on various parts of the planning process for many different campaigns. A typical day can include anything from exciting brainstorming sessions and meetings with the client to more detail-oriented tasks like filling out creative documents and completing reporting. The job provides a good balance of abstract thinking and implementation, which I really like.

 

CS: What is one of the best aspects of your work?

 

RM: The amount of people you get to meet in this job is incredible. We regularly have meetings with a lot of our vendors, and even getting to e-meet people who work at your favorite publications can be really cool. And, as with all jobs, seeing the end product of all of your hard work is always rewarding, whether it’s a custom editorial piece or video, or just seeing the placements on a site.

 

CS: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned from this job?

 

RM: Being flexible and having the ability to pivot. Sometimes these media plans change at the last second and it’s important to be able to go with the flow and make changes quickly. Also, always be polite and cordial – the world is small and you never know when you’ll cross paths with someone again.

 

CS: Provide some advice for students working towards internships and full-time opportunities in the communications field.

 

RM: I have a couple. First, don’t be deterred when you don’t land something in the field you want right away. It took me a lot of time and a lot of jobs before I found something in entertainment, and each position was helpful in getting me here. Second, keep your LinkedIn updated. The rumors are true — recruiters really do use the social tool to find prospective employees, so having the most up-to-date profile will only benefit you. (I actually got my current job through LinkedIn, so I’m not just saying it!) And lastly, utilize the Michigan alumni network to your fullest. I have landed some of my internships through alums, and every job I’ve had has had some kind of a Michigan connection. Go blue!

 

Radhika will be returning to Ann Arbor in November as a panelist for our Entertainment Media Career Forum! Students are encouraged to attend to learn more about her journey.

2015 Communication Studies Commencement

Grads and GuestsGraduates, can you believe it?  We really did graduate.  We’ve packed up our lives here at U of M, trying to make sense of this inevitable closing chapter.  We experienced a bizarre combination of nervousness, sadness, excitement…and even sweat.  I predict that many of you have already made the painstaking and exhausting move out of your Ann Arbor housing (good-bye forever, dingy college furniture!).  And most of you, I’m sure, took time to say good-bye to faculty and friends.  I even suspect that a few of you have already started your full-time jobs – an exhilarating, yet terrifying thought.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been spending these last couple weeks trying to overcome my serious post-grad nostalgia (Is there an official diagnosis for this?).  In my attempt to fondly remember the past, while excitedly anticipate the future, it is clear to me that Ann Arbor will always be special.  Whether it is a football game or maybe a job that draws us back, we will find ourselves revisiting our deeply rooted feelings of love, pride, and yearning for this phenomenal place.  Talk about an emotional roller coaster.

We must admit, however, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect end to our undergraduate chapter at U of M.  We have the Department of Communication Studies to thank for this.  On May 1, 2015 we graduated and the normalcy we found in our undergraduate careers vanished.  The real world instantly greeted us with a few harsh realities: it is no longer socially acceptable to wear leggings every day, sleeping in until noon on any given day is no longer the norm, nor is it okay to arrive 10 minutes late assuming there’s a “Michigan time” grace period.  Harsh reality checks for sure.

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Some normalcy did remain on this special day.  As happens every year, the ceremony was held at the Michigan Theater — except the Michigan Theater felt a little different to us this time.  Professor and Chair of the Department, Susan Douglas, kicked-off the ceremony with a warm welcome.  Her opening remarks were insightful and certain, emphasizing the value of a liberal arts degree in addition to the media’s importance and power.  She affirmed that our liberal arts degree exposed us to diverse literature and perspectives, pressed us as critical and flexible thinkers, and refined our persuasive communication and research skills. These skills and more can only be taught through a liberal arts degree and will be crucially important as we tackle the continuing profound changes in communications technologies – technologies that grew and developed alongside us.  Douglas’ speech flawlessly encapsulated all of this and more, bringing together all of the things we had learned the past four years into perfect harmony.

0007Professor and Honors Advisor, Rowell Huesmann, introduced the Honors students: Jacquelyn Goldman, Marjorie McCurry, and Ellen Wagner.  He thoughtfully highlighted the rigorous requirements and expectations of the Honors Program – no easy feat.  At this time, he also presented the Mark Foote Distinguished Thesis Award.  This award was established in 2003 by the family of Mark Foote, a devoted University of Michigan alumnus and longtime leader in journalism.  The Distinguished Thesis Award is given to a Communication Studies undergraduate student for the most outstanding senior thesis in terms of scientific rigor and theoretical contribution.  Marjorie McCurry was the recipient of the award this year – you go girl!

 

Honors Thesis Students_ Jacquelyn Goldman, Marjorie McCurry, Ellen Wagner

Pictured: Honors Students, Jacquelyn Goldman, Marjorie McCurry, and Ellen Wagner 

I was fortunate enough to speak as president of the Michigan Association of Communication Studies (MACS) alongside my Co-EVP, Chris Beindorff.  While my speech relayed my deep love for all things U of M and hopes for my fellow graduates, Chris spoke of a hero that influenced his life and will continue to do so: his grandfather.  Both speeches expressed our appreciation of U of M and more specifically, our journeys through communications.  Together, we encouraged students to create a meaningful life, find inspiration, be excited for the next chapter, and yet never forget your memorable times at U of M: a perfect combination of looking back and looking forward.

Student speakers_ Alissa Ranger & Chris Beindorff

Pictured: Student Speakers, Alissa Ranger & Chris Beindorff

Jon Hein served as the keynote speaker at this year’s ceremony.  Jon graduated with a B.A. in Communications and History from U of M in 1989.  He first came on the scene when he coined the term “jump the shark” and created the website, jumptheshark.com, in 1997.  Jon hosts “Fast Food Mania” on the Discovery Channel Destination America and the collectibles show “For What It’s Worth” on VH1 classic.  He is also a producer on “The Howard Stern Show” at Sirius XM Radio where he has hosted a variety of programs including “The Wrap Up Show” for the past decade.  In other words, he’s a pretty big deal.

Jon Hein 1

Pictured: Keynote Speaker, Jon Hein

Although his invaluable experience through the field of communications took him all across the country, Jon asserted that Ann Arbor will forever be “home.”  He expressed his deep love for U of M, making it clear that he truly does bleed maize and blue.  With charisma, passion, and enthusiasm, he shared his successes, failures, and lessons learned.  Jon explained that he found his success through one simple equation: talent + persistence = luck.  He firmly believes that as U of M students we’ve already shown our passion to succeed, which has carried us through the past four years.  As students at this competitive university, we are already immensely talented.  Now, our task is to work hard, pay our dues, and not be easily discouraged.  This is where persistence comes in.

He recognized that it may not always be possible to land your “dream job” right away, but he urged students that with talent and persistence, you can be lucky enough to turn your passions into reality.  As Jon asserted, “This is the time in your life when you can make bold choices and go for it.” He reiterated that we need to take advantage of our time right now because it’ll never be here for us again.  “You’ll never have the freedom you have right now.  Make the most of it. Now is the time to go for it. Nothing is tying you down or holding you back,” he continued.

In our journey to “just go for it,” he recognized a few lessons he learned along the way:

  • “Always try to surround yourself with people who are smarter, funnier, and just as passionate as you are.  It raises your game.”
  • “Maintain your creative outlet.  Never let it go.”
  • “You need to be self-aware.  Don’t let your limitations hold you back.  Build upon your strengths.”
  • “Reach out to fellow Michigan graduates.”

I don’t know about you, fellow graduates, but these words will resonate with me forever.

And just like that, we graduated from the Department of Communication Studies.  As I look back at old photos, I am reminded that Jon Hein was right.  We really have had the time of our lives these past four years.  We learned, we failed, we succeeded, and we grew.  We truly lived.  But we can’t dwell in the past.  We are more alive now than ever and there is still so much to experience.  In the words of Jon Hein, “It’s okay to look back as you’re looking forward.”  You bet, Jon Hein.  I plan to do just that.

2014 Entertainment Media Career Forum Wrap-Up

Pachella with presentationOn the morning of November 14th, students gathered in the Rackham Amphitheatre for the Communication Studies department’s 9th Annual Entertainment Media Career Forum.  Like years past, this event offered the unique opportunity for students to hear from alumni currently working in the industry, meet other students interested in similar career pathways, as well as network and engage with a diverse panel. READ MORE »

Wolverines Around the World: Olympic Edition

Former University of Michigan Communication Studies student, Keenan Koss, was kind enough to answer some questions about her time as an undergrad, her path to television production, and her incredible olympic experience.

Name: Keenan Koss

Graduation Year: 2010

Occupation: NBC Sports – NHL Production Associate & Booker

UMich at the Olympics

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Updates from the Professional World: Jamie Rubinstein (’12) at Emanate

Here’s something that just goes to show that Wolverines are abundant and widespread!

Communication Studies alumna Jamie Rubinstein (’12) works for Emanate, an integrated marketing firm in New York, and recently learned that she would be working with a fellow alumnus Scott Cocchiere (UM ’96 – Graphic Design). Emanate has recently taken a “Relevance Marketing” approach and hired Cocchiere as director of creative relevance to optimize Emanate’s abilities above and beyond traditional marketing.

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Advice for the University of Michigan Communication Studies Class of 2012

One of the main goals of the Communication Studies blog is to provide our concentrators with useful, engaging information. As the academic year comes to a close and we prepare for commencement, we thought it would be appropriate to post some extremely useful information: words of wisdom from faculty and alumni. READ MORE »

Alumnus Mike Wallace (A.B. ’39) Passes Away at Age 93

The Communication Studies Department was saddened to learn the news of the passing of Department alumnus Mike Wallace (A.B. ’39). Wallace passed away on April 7, 2012 at the age of 93.

The esteemed broadcast journalist graduated from the University with a degree in Speech. Wallace spent 40 years on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” where he, as The New York Times put it, “went head to head with chiefs of state, celebrities and con artists.” READ MORE »

Alumni Connection 2012

On Friday, March 30, 2012, the Communication Studies Department hosted Alumni Connection 2012. The event, which takes place annually, features presenations from an esteemed alumni panel, a networking lunch, and a question and answer session. The goal of Alumni Connection is to provide Communication Studies concentrators with an opportunity to learn about specific career paths within their chosen field of study. READ MORE »

Guest Alumni Blogger: Kellen Meranus (’09), Account Manager, Google

My name is Kellen Meranus, and my advice is simple; network. During college, career counselors often gave me tips on how to get a job, and this nebulous tip of “networking” was always included. No matter how many times I heard the term, the full importance of networking didn’t hit me until a few years into my career at Google. READ MORE »