First CSU Media Career Summit draws crowds

November 20, 2019

Writing is considered the most important skill in media but the cadre of expert panelists at at the first California State University Media Career Summit underlined the value of adopting additional skills to complement the growing digital media industry. 

“When I was in school, there was this myth that you’re either a numbers person or a words person,” said Wendy Barba, executive editor for Fierce by mitú, and a 2010 Journalism graduate. “I think that was a mistake I made. I was just so focused on ‘I’m a writer, I’m a writer’ and I didn’t know how to do spreadsheets, or Keynote presentations.” 

Barba, a CSUN alumnus, was one of 11 professionals on two different panels at the Oct. 17 summit, held in the USU’s Northridge Center. Joining her were: Jacquil Constant; CSUN alumnus and independent filmmaker; Hali Larkins, strategic partner manager at YouTube; Jordyn Palos, founder of Persona PR, as well as the KNBC-4 news team, with Beverly White, Mahelda Rodriguez, Howie Deeter, Andrew Callins, Whitney Irick. Among the news team were CSUN alumni Jonathan Gonzalez and Marina Perelman. 

The professionals’ main advice to students? Harness the ability to read data, they said, because understanding why certain content might perform better on a media platform is crucial to growing an audience. 

The inaugural conference, which drew large crowds, left students like CSUN Broadcast major I’Yanna Applon-Kettles motivated to seek internships and expose herself to more opportunities through networking, she said. 

Cal State LA student Brisa Slaton found it to useful to hear the panelists’ diverse experiences and their advice on finding success in the industry, she said.

“It was definitely interesting to hear panelists talk about different niches within the industry,” said Slaton, “and just seeing where your career can take off even if you might have started at a super small town or as an intern.”

Barba, who started at mitú during its start-up, said some of the ways mitú built its social media presence was interacting with its audience by liking comments and answering direct messages. 

It is important to develop those business skills along with creating content, said Larkins, who serves as a member of the creator diversity team at YouTube. In an industry that continuously evolves, she added, developing new techniques, understanding analytics and competitors are methods to creating a sustainable business. 

Organization and time management are the essential skills he utilizes in his role as a KNBC-4 producer, said Deeter, especially when working on multiple projects. 

For many of the panelists, soft skills, like kindness and maintaining connections, gave them the opportunities that further assisted in the growth of their careers, they said.

Kindness is fundamental in the industry, Constant noted, recommending students form long lasting relationships while building an array of experiences. 

“In the end, it’s how you make people feel that stays with them,” said White, a KNBC-4 reporter, who acknowledged the sometime negative stereotypes of mainstream media. “People remember that you remember what makes them special and that you’re listening when you ask, ‘How are you?’ and stick around for the answer.” 

Constant, along with several of the other media experts, credited their past internships and jobs for leading them to their current positions. For example, Larkins suggested students build experience in several ways, including shadowing professionals and enrolling in training programs. 

“Even if you may not have the time to get into a full internship there are always opportunities to develop connections and to network,” said Larkins, “to at least sample and gage what you might be interested in that could create career opportunities for you in the future.” 

KNBC-4 President and General Manager Steve Carlston, who attended the summit, collaborated with Journalism Prof. Benjamin Davis and CTVA professors Michael Hoggan and Todd Holmes to organize and host the event, open to students from across the five CSU campuses in Los Angeles County. 

The conference, co-sponsored by CSUN, KCSN 88.5, KNBC-4, Google and the CSU Entertainment Alliance, also featured a variety of career preparedness activities. Included were make-up advice and attire consultation from Matty’s Closet, a career center resource that offers CSUN student free professional clothing. 

By Gisselle Pernett