Carleton students take to the streets (and offices) of New York City for the Career Center’s latest taste-of-industry tour.
Exploring a potential career is a lot like learning to swim. Theory is useful—up to a point. But there’s no substitute for diving into the pool.
A dozen Carleton students did exactly that over spring break, in the latest installment of the Career Center’s Scholars program. Their mission: to immerse themselves in the overlapping fields of journalism, media, and publishing.
Their three-day experience included:
- A networking dinner with publishing-industry professionals.
- Tours and insider perspectives at major media outlets, including ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, and MSNBC.
- An overview of graduate programs in journalism and publishing at Columbia University.
- A trip to Focus Features for advice on breaking into the film industry.
- A behind-the-scenes look at Vogue magazine from executive producer Christiane Mack ’87 (with the added excitement of glimpsing iconic editor Anna Wintour).
- Insights from publishing professionals at Scholastic and Penguin Books USA.
- Networking with Carleton alumni, parents, and colleagues in a wide variety of roles: writers, editors, newsmakers, agents, publicists, and more.
“It’s one thing to read about these fields online,” says Christian Lee ’98, a Career Center board member who opened up his Time Warner office to the students during their visit. “But it’s very different to immerse yourself in it for several concentrated days, talking to alums who are living it at all different ages and stages of their careers. You see the pace. You hear the lingo. You get to know what kind of people are attracted to this work.”
The networking aspect was a highlight for Scholars participant Mike Sobaski ’15. “I met the most amazing people,” Sobaski says. “They really opened my eyes to the possibilities. I got to ask the VP of primetime programming at MSNBC what I should be doing right now to prepare myself for his industry, and what he looks for when he’s hiring people. I got to meet with a writer for Rolling Stone who’s interviewed music legends. I had the best dinner conversation with a book publicist. The whole thing was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that transcends the usual job shadowing.”
Taking It to the Streets
The New York Scholars trip also included a home stay with young alumni living and working in the city—a first for the program. For many participants, that was as eye-opening as the industry tours.
“The home stay forces a real-life aspect into the trip,” explains Jessica Mueller, associate director of the Career Center. “They have to navigate the city, find transportation, and deal with all the things they’d need to handle in a real New York City workday. It really encourages them to be resourceful and independent.”
The home stay was a highlight for senior Alex Brewer, a second-time Scholars participant. “It’s a taste of the transition after Carleton,” he says. “That’s so important—getting a glimpse of their lifestyle in these big cities, right out of college. It was eye-opening to hear how they networked, how they did their job searches, and what it’s been like for them.
“No one coming out of Carleton seems to have a very linear path,” Brewer notes. “But they go exciting places.”
Bringing It Home
Another new element introduced on this Scholars trip was the requirement that participants document and share their experiences. Not surprisingly, the methods of documentation were as individual as the students themselves.
Three participants chose to create a blog and report on the trip as it happened, complete with photos and Tweets (see their blog here). Others chronicled the experience in articles written after the trip, or prepared PowerPoint presentations to share with their classmates back at Carleton.
“The trips are a fantastic experience,” says Jessica Mueller of the Career Center. “But they’re open to a very limited number of students. So we introduced this documentation aspect to help the students share the wealth of what they learned.”
The Alumni Perspective
The benefits the Scholars program delivers to the student participants are clear. But what motivates the alumni, parents, and other volunteers who carve out time from their demanding professional schedules?
For book agent Gail Hochman (P’12) of Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, it’s an opportunity to take her own success and pay it forward.
“If you are set in your own life, you can afford to give back,” says Hochman, who recruited a diverse group of her publishing-industry friends for a networking dinner with the students. “The hour or two or three I give to them is a small thing for me. But for them it may be huge in helping them understand how best to enter this career. The amount of time I can offer is modest in terms of my own life, but it can mean ten or twenty times as much to the person I spend time with.”
Those altruistic reasons aside, Hochman says, it’s just plain fun. “It invigorates me,” she says. “It’s a shot in the arm. I work with a lot of interns in the beginning stages of their adult working life, and unfortunately a few of them have a sense of entitlement. Carleton kids are so open-minded and thoughtful. It’s rewarding to spend time with them.”
For Christian Lee ’98, the Time Warner executive, it’s an opportunity to reflect on his own career.
“Taking the time to meet with students gives you a fresh perspective,” says Lee. “As you make sense of your industry for them, you look back and say, ‘Here’s how I started. Here’s how I got where I am today.’
“It’s an opportunity to remember what made you passionate about your career in the first place.”