NORTHRIDGE, CALIF — September 28, 2017 — Zack Rome was in awe when he entered the Ferman Presentation Room in the Oviatt Library. Rome, a current California State University of Northridge student, is a big Los Angeles Dodgers fan and listens to local sports radio to follow the team. When he found out AM 570 LA Sports Radio host Tim Cates was going to be giving professional advice at the Journalism Alumni Association Speed Mentoring event he got excited. This was someone Rome listens to all the time and now he has a chance to speak with him. “I listen to him all the time on Dodger Talk. It was just so cool because I walked in here and he’s just sitting right there and he answered all the questions that I just have. That was awesome,” said Rome.
Rome spoke with several mentors in attendance to help get a better understanding of the journalism profession and to see what it takes to make it in the industry. Throughout his time at the event he received plenty of feedback, but one of the most important lessons he learned was to stay the course. “The cliché would be to trust the process. Just never be down if things don’t work out right away. Just know that things will work out if you look in the right places,” said Rome.
This is the type of advice that the JAA has hoped it could offer students when it held its annual Speed Mentoring event Sept. 27, at the Oviatt Library on campus. The event is designed to help journalism majors with their career aspirations by allowing them to receive advice from professionals in various areas of journalism.
Approximately 25 professionals from broadcast, radio, print, social media, sports, and public relations were in attendance to answer questions from about 75 students. Craig Leener, a JAA board member and CSUN alumnus, presented tips on crafting a good resume as well as the job interviewing process.
“One of the primary reasons for the Journalism Alumni Association's existence is to aid students who succeeded us. Speed Mentoring is one of the primary ways we do this," said Bob Rawitch, JAA president.
The event provides the practical knowledge that journalism students are always looking for from professionals in their field. Students were able to visit and speak with numerous professionals both in their field as well as other fields in journalism. Employees from Power 106 and 570 AM LA Sports radio, E! News, NBC, the Daily News, Amgen, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Associated Press, City News Service and the Los Angeles Times were in attendance as mentors for the students. Many of the mentors are CSUN alumni as well.
The students that attended the event got a clearer picture of their future and what they need to do to get their foot in the door.
Tynisha Lewis, a CSUN journalism student, enjoyed the professionalism of the event: “I always like these events put on by the Journalism Alumni Association. I like it because we are getting professional expertise from CSUN alumni and it is a very professional event.”
One of the mentors at the event, Steve Padilla, an editor for the Los Angeles Times, felt this was a beneficial event for the students. He and other mentors believed that this was the type of resource where students could get a little more than what is just offered in the classroom. As to why he did the event and what students can get out of it, he said, “Practical knowledge. A lot of what I’ve heard today is just very practical. Let’s put it this way, there’s certain things that are particular to a classroom like theoretical stuff. Sometimes you really want to know ‘how does it work?’”
Check out the photos here.
The JAA currently has about 150 members.
Where Are They Now? – David Brady, Senior Public Relations Manager at LEGOLAND Florida Resort
From obituaries to newspapers to the dot-com bubble to LEGOLAND, California State University of Northridge alumnus, David Brady, has seen it all.
Brady attended CSUN from 1986 to 1992 and graduated with a double major in journalism and radio-television-film. During his time at CSUN he joined the staff of the Daily Sundial. He credits the Sundial for pushing him towards journalism as a career, “I had been at CSUN for a few years by that point but the energy and excitement I felt at the paper cemented my decision to make it a career.”
Brady currently works at LEGOLAND Florida Resort as their senior public relations manager where he leads their strategies and tactics. Before his current role he worked at the Walt Disney World Resort where he had a variety roles including public relations and internal communications.
Brady first got involved with the CSUN Journalism Alumni Association in early 2000 when he and some other alumni were challenged to revive the association. He and the other members began holding events and fundraising for scholarships.
Brady stresses how important it is to connect with other people in the industry to help your future. “I believe that relationships are very important in everyone's career, so the networking opportunities available from organizations like JAA are very valuable.”
The connections Brady has been able to cultivate have lasted throughout his career and even were helpful for his most recent move to LEGOLAND.
The most important thing Brady believes students should know is, “Don’t burn any bridges! You never know who you'll be working with — or for — in the years ahead, so make sure you're always cultivating and developing relationships.”
Where Are They Now? – Dr. Lori Baker-Schena
Whether it’s an individual, a large corporation, or many things in between, Dr. Lori Baker-Schena, MBA, EdD, California State University of Northridge alumna, can consult and help get her clients on track.
Dr. Baker-Schena brings her clients 35 years of public relations and marketing experience as well as 25 years as a tenured professor of public relations and journalism. She is currently in the process of writing a book.
Through her work she looks to help clients by bringing, “clarity to clients — especially those who feel stuck…helping identify passions, and then sharing the steps necessary to make those passions a reality.”
She knew journalism was her career path early on in life when she worked on her high school newspaper. Her big start in journalism started shortly after graduating CSUN when she served as the copy editor for the Daily News.
Dr. Baker-Schena has been a member of the CSUN Journalism Alumni Association since the 1980s and believes that it can be helpful to students with their careers and futures.
As for how she believes students can be most successful? &lsdquo;Work hard and do a lot of internships before you graduate.”
Where Are They Now Interview – Todd Bigelow '89
Name a major publication and CSUN alumnus Todd Bigelow has likely worked for it. Bigelow has traveled around the country doing freelance photojournalism for various outlets as well as founding a freelance workshop that is offered around the country.
Bigelow graduated from CSUN in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism. He credits taking his first journalism class, an elective, to what made him realize that this was the career choice for him.
“I remember after completing my first photography class that I was going to switch my major to journalism. I was raised in a fairly socially active and conscious family and discovered that photojournalism was the perfect manner in which to earn a living while being engaged in society,” said Bigelow.
Bigelow has done freelance work for major media outlets such as TIME, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, People, US News, and World Report. He credits the internship he did while at CSUN for helping him get his foot in the door in journalism.
In the world of journalism, especially in freelance, it is significant to be able to network with others. Bigelow suggests that attending events can only help solidify your contacts. “Networking can be something simple like attending a photo gathering or a CSUN Dodger Night. You never know who you might meet and who might need a photographer,” said Bigelow.
Maintaining this strong network is just as important as starting it. Continuously engaging with his contacts has helped him to not only become successful, but to stay successful. This is where he feels that the alumni association can help with graduates. “It’s vital that students create and maintain a strong network in order to develop clients,” he said. “Like all alumni associations, the members look to help one another so it only makes sense for students to be involved.”
Bigelow continues to do freelance workshops around the country as well as teaching at both CSUN and UCLA.
Where Are They Now Interview – George Robertson '66
Many journalists get their start in smaller newspapers. There is a very beautiful grind that reporters go through throughout their career. For George Robertson that journey was no different, but he stayed in that world.
Robertson graduated from CSUN in 1966 and, just like many other reporters, made his way through smaller newspapers while getting promoted to news editor and then managing editor. Before he graduated he spent his time at CSUN working for the Sundial as a reporter and an editor.
The Sundial was where his passion for journalism was realized. “I knew journalism was my career after writing my first few stories at the college newspaper,” said Robertson.
It was that passion which helped Robertson become a Pulitzer Prize nominee after writing a series of articles on corruption in local government for the Sheridan Sun in Washington, which he went on to buy and operate until his retirement a few years ago. His articles led to a grand jury investigation into local city officials.
Robertson still likes to support journalism. He has been a part of the CSUN Journalism Alumni Association for many years and supports the schools’ journalism program.
Networking helped Robertson advance his career, but he also believes that having a strong reputation impacted his career just as much. “Networking in my career was important but even more important was my reputation as a serious reporter who kept asking the hard questions and not letting my biases show through,” he said.
Continuously learning is a strong message sent by Robertson to beginners as well his. Its passion for journalists telling important stories.
“Never forget that what you are doing is very important – keeping people informed about their local communities and the world,” said Robertson.
Where Are They Now – John Rogers '73
It started at a very early age for CSUN alumni John Rogers. It was at the Pow Wow, a weekly newspaper at Pacoima Junior High School, where his love of journalism first began as a reporter and editor.
“Since elementary school I had loved to write, but the idea of journalism, with its deadlines, breaking news and the chance to meet an endless stream of fascinating people with interesting stories to tell was what probably won me over to this form of writing,” said Rogers.
Like other writers, Rogers began his journey at a small community paper, the Simi Valley Enterprise, which eventually was purchased by the Ventura Star. This proved to be valuable experience as he was able to see various aspects of the newspaper business. “It was a great place to start, giving me a chance to learn all aspects of print media,” said Rogers.
Throughout his career, Rogers has worked across the country, from the west coast, east coast and in the Midwest. It was in 1987 though where he received a big opportunity working for the Associated Press where he has been ever since. Most recently he covers pop culture in Southern California.
Rogers has been a part of the CSUN Journalism Alumni Association for some time now and sees how it can benefit graduates. The journalism business is everchanging and that is part of where he sees the JAA’s benefits, he said. “In meeting people like that (alums) it also provides the opportunity to learn how the business is changing and how students might better prepare themselves to meet those changes when they leave school.”
It is this everchanging landscape where Rogers offers his best advice to young journalists. He suggests to continuously adapt so you can make yourself more marketable for companies.
“You can’t have too many skills these days,” said Rogers. “Also, match that with unending curiosity. Learn a little bit about everything. Never stop reading and learning.”