CoJMC Graduates Find Jobs Before They Graduate

CoJMC Graduates Find Jobs Before They Graduate

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 6:00pm
Future CNN news associate, Sophie Tatum
Future CNN news associate, Sophie Tatum

University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications December 2015 graduates are already accepting job offers, even before Commencement Saturday. 

The UNL CoJMC has the highest percentage of bachelor’s graduates reporting employment in the job search at 85.6 percent, according to the 2014 UNL Career Services Annual Report of Graduates. A number that has been steadily rising.

This is higher than the national percentage according to an annual survey of Journalism and Mass Communication graduates done by the University of Georgia. It reported that in 2013, 73.8 percent of the bachelor’s degree recipients from journalism and mass communications programs have at least one employment offer.

Of the 85.6 percent reporting employment, 65.3 percent are in Nebraska. Many CoJMC graduates find themselves employed at top agencies, corporations and media organizations nationally and internationally. 

“The faculty in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications do an excellent job of preparing students for careers in the highly competitive media and persuasive communications marketplace,” said Dean Maria Marron. “The college has a long and proud history of producing stellar graduates who assume positions in leading media companies, advertising and public relations agencies as well as in leadership positions in not-for-profits and other organizations. Great credit must go to the faculty and the advising staff for the great foundation they provide our students.”

Graduates credit their success in finding employment quickly to the hands-on opportunities they have as students at the CoJMC and to the college’s faculty who mentor them.

“When I was offered my first internship at CNN, what really stood out to them was the experience I already had,” said Sophie Tatum of LaGrange, Illinois, broadcasting graduate and future CNN news associate. “I had hands-on experience from day one, which I think made me different than other candidates and made me more prepared.”

Tatum started her journey with CNN as an “AC360” intern in January 2014 and continued with a summer internship at “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” The following summer she interned at CNNPolitics.com. 

Broadcasting graduate Amsley Senkbeil of Lincoln will be the new morning producer for KETV Omaha in January. It wasn’t an easy decision, though. She credits her professors for giving her support and encouragement, and ultimately, nominating her for the Hearst Television Producing Fellowship, which led to this opportunity.

The CoJMC faculty nominated Senkbeil for the 10-week fellowship, which can lead to a producing job at one of the 25 Hearst Television stations. She was named a finalist, so she interviewed with Rose Ann Shannon, KETV news director. 

“The interview ended up lasting two-and-a-half hours; it was a great conversation,” Senkbeil said. “So you know you walk out of it thinking that something good was going to happen.”

She was correct. The next week she was offered both the fellowship and a position at KETV as a morning producer. After consulting with her professors, mentors and family, she chose the job with KETV. 

“I just have to thank all my professors who made such an impact on me,” Senkbeil said. “The professors in this building are so encouraging. You’re not just another student. Yes, you learn the skills, but it goes beyond that. Their support and mentorship is what gives students a drive to succeed.”

Journalism graduate Daniel Wheaton of Cozad shares Senkbeil’s gratitude for the journalism faculty, particularly Matt Waite who put him in touch with Aaron Steckelberg at the San Diego Union-Tribune because Steckelberg and Waite worked together at the Daily Nebraskan in college. 

Wheaton will be moving to San Diego after graduation to work as a graphics and data reporter at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“Networking has played a major role in where I am today, and that’s something I’ve learned at the CoJMC,” Wheaton said. “And it’s been the experiences that I’ve had working with media professionals across the country that taught me the value of learning specific skills.” 

Wheaton spent his time at the CoJMC taking electives and a special topics classes in data journalism and was even able to turn it into an informatics minor. Wheaton said he believes that having a specific skillset helps a candidate stand out. 

“Generalists are easy to find, but specialists are rare,” he said.

His internships at with the Scripps Howard Foundation and Newsday helped him continue to hone the skills he learned at the CoJMC.

Internships are a necessity in the job market. Getting these internships is the first step in securing a post-grad job, and in some cases, a post-graduate internship is the next step. 

Advertising and public relations major Anna English of Aurora will be a digital intern at Edelman DC, which has the largest internship program of all Edelman offices. The internship program is designed for college graduates. 

English spent last summer as a digital intern at Bailey Lauerman, the largest advertising agency in Nebraska. She credits getting that internship with the experience she had at Jacht Ad Lab, student-run advertising agency run through the CoJMC. English spent two semesters as the editor and web developer there. 

“I credit Jacht for helping me get an internship with Bailey Lauerman last summer and now this internship with Edelman,” English said. “Jacht prepares you for the real world unlike any other class or program on campus.”

She also worked with the CoJMC’s website administrator, Alan Eno, assisting with the development of an updated website and maintaining day-to-day content. 

Many other December graduates have secured positions with local organizations. Several graduates will work at Sandhills Publishing, an international publishing company that’s headquarters is in Lincoln.

One former Sandhills intern will be packing up and moving to Scottsdale, Arizona, after Commencement to work as an account executive for Yelp. Advertising and public relations major Molly Reed of Omaha said her experience at Sandhills gave her the sales experience she needed to secure her new position. 

She said she secured her position at Sandhills through her experiences in her account planning and account services classes she took at the CoJMC.

Other graduates will work in the marketing and communications department of the Husker Athletics and the advertising startup Red Thread, founded by UNL CoJMC students and alumni. 

“We extend congratulations to all our graduating seniors and our heartfelt good wishes for their success,” Dean Marron said. “We are thrilled that many of our prospective graduates have employment offers before they even receive their diploma. This is further evidence it’s really possible for CoJMC students to Start Here. Go Anywhere.”