Program Follows Career Tracks
Jessie Fredlund ’07
As a soon-to-be graduate, I was
already feeling the pressure of an impending career search
breathing down my neck. Then I met Chris Gajilan ’99,
who has won an Emmy Award and a job as a senior producer at
The pressure tripled.
It was during a two-day trip,
January 17-18, to New York City with the Career Development
Office (CDO) Career Tracks program when I met Chris and a
handful of other Smith alumnae, all successful journalists.
Each January, the program gives students a glimpse into the
operation of some of the nation’s most successful companies
in five different fields: journalism, fashion, publishing,
arts administration, and advertising/public relations. Four
of the groups head to New York City, one to Boston.
The four New York-bound groups
stumbled to the CDO bleary-eyed at 7:30 a.m. that first day,
and boarded a school bus and then a train to Grand Central
Station in Manhattan. After a relaxed lunch, I headed to the
offices of the Wall Street Journal and joined eight
other Smith students.
As a senior considering a career
in journalism, I have countless questions about starting out
in the field. The most pressing of all of them: How does an
aspiring journalist get her foot in the door?
At the Wall Street Journal,
and at our two visits the following day at the Associated
Press and CNN, we met several Smith alumnae, as well as other
journalists -- women just starting out in the field and those
working in top editorial and management positions -- and talked
with them about their jobs. They showed us around their headquarters,
and shared stories about getting started in their careers.
As each woman we met in New York told her story, I began to
get a picture of the potential inroads open to me. Next year
started to feel less scary.
In addition to career advice,
we were able to see three very different work environments:
the quiet, sophisticated offices of the Wall Street Journal;
the communal news room at the Associated Press; and the fast-pasted,
high-tech studios of CNN.
Almost as important, we got a
chance to know one another. At a college that does not offer
journalism courses, there are few chances outside of school
publications for journalists-to-be to meet and share experiences
and ideas. Talking to the alumnae in the field was amazing,
but I learned enough just from my fellow students to make
the trip well worthwhile.
At dinner Wednesday night, hosted
by Anne Donovan Bodnar ’78, and at the train station
the next day, we caught up with the other groups. The publishing
group had visited Jane Magazine and Random House,
and the arts administration group visited the Museum of Modern
On Thursday, when I boarded the
train from Grand Central back toward Smith, I felt better
about next year than I have in months.
Will I win an Emmy within my
first eight years out of college? Probably not. Can I find
a rewarding career doing something I love? If the successful
alumnae I met in New York are an indication, the answer is