17 January 2023 • Alums Exploring Media in NYC

Students visited CNN, ABC, Hollywood Reporter, Merkley+Partners and Spark Foundry.

During winter break, Hobart and William Smith students spent time in New York City exploring careers in the media industry during the annual Behind the Scenes program facilitated by the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education. This year’s in-person event follows two years of virtual programming due to the pandemic.

Students attend a filming of the Drew Barrymore Show during the Behind the Scenes program in New York City.

From Jan. 9-11, students visited sites including CNN, ABC, Hollywood Reporter, Merkley+Partners and Spark Foundry, learning firsthand about the industry from alums and employers. Visits included presentations and networking sessions, exposing students to the worlds of news, content creation, data analytics solutions and advertising. 

“This program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to connect with alums in a variety of professional settings and explore potential career paths,” says Executive Director of Career Services Brandi Ferrara who accompanied the students. “Our alums are dedicated to helping students succeed through up-close, personal interactions that can often lead to internships or jobs. After two years of virtual programming, it’s great getting back in person.”

Jonah Alexander ’24, a media and society and English double major, says he signed up in order to experience the daily work environments but came away with much more.  

“We also got a ton of great advice from our alums, which I think gave us some useful tips to land internships for next summer and even jobs in the future,” he says. “Probably the most useful part of the trip though was gaining those connections from alums in the industry. Everyone was super open to having us reach out in the future to help us out more.”

Alums participating included:

ABC: Karl Brautigam ’04, manager of digital advertising insights & strategy; Sean McKinless ’19, associate account executive, Disney Advertising Sales; Adam Polcek ’92, vice president, Disney Advertising Sales Local, Client Partnerships 

Cutter Entertainment: Stevenson Webster ’14, production coordinator 

DIRECTV: Ryder Ferrone '19, senior sales planning analyst 

Expert Institute: Talia Alon Young ’17, human resources generalist

Hollywood Reporter: Scott Perry ’91, vice president of entertainment

Merkley+Partners: Alex Gellert ‘86, CEO; Matt Habersaat ’22, assistant media planner; Shayna Riggins ‘22, assistant account executive, Mercedes Benz

PepsiCo: Callan Mathis '13, social and digital communications manager

Spark Foundry: Tanner Poisson ’19, content manager

Warner Brothers Discovery: Brianna Burtman ‘08, vice president news strategy and network partnerships

Wasserman: Sydney Gomez ‘17, assistant, Music