By Anna Leach
For many students, the Newhouse NYC program provides new opportunities to build their professional network. While off campus, they are introduced to professionals through their internships, alumni panels, classes, and a mentorship program, but many also pursue professional contacts on their own. The four former Newhouse NYC students below were able to build relationships that lasted beyond a single interaction and helped them gain footing in their careers.
Kaitlyn Frey ‘16 (Magazine) & Andrea Lavinthal ‘01 (Style & Beauty Director, People)
Newhouse NYC not only gave Kaitlyn Frey access to various professionals in the industry, but also taught her to be confident in reaching out to alumni she looked up to. During her Fall 2014 Newhouse NYC semester, Frey was surprised to find that so many people she contacted were friendly and receptive.
One of her key relationships came from a Newhouse NYC class assignment: a Twitter interview. Frey was familiar with People Style & Beauty Director Andrea Levinthal’s presence on Twitter (including her commentary on “The Bachelor”), and through a connection via Newhouse NYC Director Cheryl Brody Franklin, was able to interview her. After the assignment, she emailed a thank you and Lavinthal graciously invited her to visit the People office and chat in person.
For the rest of the semester, Frey stayed in touch with Lavinthal, cultivating the relationship slowly over time, as she did with other alumni she met–including People’s Deputy Style Director (and Newhouse alumna) Sharon Kanter.
“It was just staying on their radar and always being really professional when l I reached out. I wasn’t emailing them every month, but it was big things or smaller things like interacting on social media,” Frey said.
By keeping in touch in these subtle ways, Frey said she was able to stay near the top of both Kanter and Lavinthal’s minds. So, when Kanter saw an opening for a paid intern position at People, she contacted Frey and encouraged her to apply, knowing she could be a great fit. Throughout the interview process, Frey drew upon what she’d learned from both women and landed the position. That internship then evolved into a full-time role as Style & Beauty Editorial Assistant, and Frey still works closely with both women today.
STUDENT TIP from Kaitlyn Frey: Like people’s tweets and instagrams that you admire.
“By doing those little subtle things, they’ll remember I need to email so-and-so. Even though they may not respond, people know you’re there.”
Max Murphy ‘18 (Advertising) & Demi Douglas ‘16 (Coordinator, NBC News Digital)
Max Murphy said Newhouse NYC was his first foray into professional relationship building. As a Portfolio Sales Marketing Intern at NBC Digital during his Fall 2017 Newhouse NYC semester, one of the ways he began to networkwas by reaching out to others within NBC.
One of the contacts he made was with Newhouse alumna Demi Douglas, who was an Ad Sales Digital Planning Page at NBC at the time. From this relationship in particular, Murphy said he learned that networking can be a great way to learn about an industry or field of interest from someone on the “inside.”
“Every single person you network with has their own different thing. Demi was someone who was giving me the real low down on it. [For example,] I was asking about the Page program, and I felt like she would give me an honest answer,” Murphy said.
STUDENT TIP from Max Murphy: Use your days off to meet with someone each week.
“Having a face-to-face conversation is so powerful. Try and set up a coffee meeting every Friday. It won’t take up much of your time, and you’ll see new parts of the city all the time that way, too.”
Leah Greene ‘16 (Advertising) & Kristina Hahn ‘98 (Director of Americas Partner Solutions & Innovation, Google)
For Leah Greene, relationship building is rooted in genuine interest in other people, their lives, and their advice. Sometimes it’s about connecting someone to a job, however, it is also about finding people that can help you navigate and shape your career.
One of people Greene said she grew closer to early on was Kristina Hahn. She initially met Hahn during her Fall 2014 Newhouse NYC semester, after Hahn gave the students a tour of Google. Greene said she sent a thank you email based on her notes and asked if Hahn would be interested in getting coffee, which turned into lunch. Ever since then, Greene says they have kept in touch, meeting up in person about every six months or so.
From Hahn’s perspective, since the beginning, she has appreciated Greene’s clear focus, authenticity, and commitment to actually forming a connection as opposed to just looking for a position at Google. From those elements, mutual respect allowed the relationship to grow.
“Her questions have always been (and remain) thoughtful. She also listened to me, acted on the advice, and then followed up. I can’t over emphasize follow-up enough,” Hahn said.
MENTOR TIP from Kristina Hahn: Know your own story and tell it well.
“Communication is about storytelling. What’s your story? Be articulate, and think about the skills you have and the skills you want to get.”
Lauren Cunningham ‘19 (Advertising) & Victoria Bergmann (Site Merchandiser, Orchard Mile)
Before attending Newhouse NYC, Lauren Cunningham knew there was a value to networking in terms of finding a job. However, her semester in the city gave her a deeper look into how professionalism is hugely foundational to relationships outside of school. She discovered networking isn’t “magic,” it’s more of a balance between putting yourself out there while maintaining respect. If you go beyond acting like a student and instead act like a professional, Cunningham said you’ll be treated like a professional instead of a student.
Cunningham met Victoria Bergmann through an introduction by Director Cheryl Brody Franklin. Although not a Newhouse alumna (she has a B.S. in Economics from Syracuse University), Bergmann knew of the Newhouse NYC program through peers and different internship experiences from her own days as a student. The two were able to discuss not only Cunningham’s internship at the time, but also talk about more personal topics, like where to eat or advice regarding moving to New York from out of state.
Bergmann said she was excited to build a relationship with Cunningham (as well as other students) because it offers her chance to pay it forward to another generation. A huge component of networking, Bergmann said, is not only addressing your own needs, but helping others. And recent graduates are in a unique position to help students and can provide valuable feedback.
“Sometimes it can be intimidating talking to someone who has been in their industry for 10 or 15 years. Hearing from other younger people that they still struggle is a great feeling. You realize ‘It’s not just me,’” Bergmann said.
MENTOR TIP from Victoria Bergmann: It’s okay if you’re not an expert yet, but always be willing to engage.
“Be able to talk to people, even if you’re not talking about the latest trends in ecommerce or Fashion Week. Even if it’s small talk, they know you can hold yourself in a professional atmosphere. By being confident, they have more confidence in you.”
Anna Leach is a senior Magazine and Information Management and Technology dual major and a current Newhouse NYC student interning at She’s The First.