Alumni Q & A with Ashley Kalena, Manager of YouTube Strategy for National Geographic

Ashley Kalena works as a Manager of YouTube Strategy for National Geographic. She graduated from Rowan University in 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. In 2008, she earned her Master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

She will participate in a Student Alumni Association event called Sips ‘N’ Tips on Wednesday, November 8 at 6 pm in the Student Center Pit at Rowan University.

Describe your job. What do you do on a daily basis?
I manage YouTube for National Geographic.  Pretty much what that means is that I write and implement the strategy for all three U.S. based channels and then act upon that strategy.  I also run the content development for YouTube, which means at any given time I am working with producers, editors, production companies, and talent to make video content that’s right for the platform.

Can you share some of your work that particularly proud of?
This is going to be very hard to narrow down!  Earlier this year, I executive produced a live aftershow in LA discussing the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots, with live feeds from three locations.  It was hosted by Soledad O’Brien, had 11 guests who all offered different points of view on the conversation:

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Neil deGrasse Tyson multiple times on video projects.  I’ve produced at least 35 videos with him.  I’ve even been in a few with him!  Including this one, where I played the game Heads Up with him.

In June of this year, I hosted and co-hosted two lives from Napa Valley for Get Outdoors Day.  I was also the Executive Producer on these shows as well.  It was a really cool experience.  I put volcanic ash on my face for all to see!

What is one thing you love about your current job?
I am very creative and very organized.  My job calls for both these traits so I’m constantly being pushed to challenge myself in new ways.

What is one of the biggest challenges of your current job?
One of the biggest challenges I face is not being able to control resources or budget – this comes from above me.  So, I always have to get creative with how to spend the money I do have and make use of the people around me in the best possible way, because they are great resources too.

Briefly explain how you arrived at this point in your career — from Rowan University to the present?
During my last year at Rowan, the broadcast specialization was added, and I quickly realized this was the area I wanted to pursue.  I took as many classes as I could that year to prepare myself.  Since Rowan didn’t offer a graduate program at the time for broadcast journalism, I applied elsewhere and got accepted to Syracuse University.  I received my M.S. from the Newhouse School.  From there, I got offered a job in Washington DC, at Travel Channel, where I worked for two years.  I then took a position at National Geographic, where I’ve been for over seven years, in various roles.

What advice do you have for aspiring journalists studying at Rowan University?
There is not set path for journalists.  Storytelling can exist in many forms and on many platforms. You have to be able to adapt with technology and trends, while still staying true to yourself, your integrity and your journalistic intuition – those skills will apply to whatever role you find yourself in.

Student Spotlight: Mavish Khan – From Biology to Broadcasting

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Mavish Kahn outside of the White House for her On-Camera Field Reporting course.

By Lauren Kubiak

Mavish Khan spent her first few years at Rowan University exploring different career paths. She started as a biology major, but quickly realized it wasn’t for her. Next, she followed the influence of her father and switched to accounting.

But it was through extracurricular activities like The Whit, Rowan Television Network, and Rowan Radio, that Khan found her real passion: journalism.

Khan, a 21-year-old senior from Cherry Hill, will graduate in May with a major in journalism, a minor in political science, and a specialization in international studies. Khan said that the journalism courses have taught her to work across different media platforms, but also challenged her to take risks.

“This is a changing field and if anything, we should experiment with telling stories using technology we have never used,” she said.

She has also built an impressive resume of internships in production at SNJ Today, in communications at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, and as a junior reporter for Fox 29. After graduating, Khan hopes to work for an online media company, behind the scenes on a TV set, or any job that will allow her to travel.

“In the end I want to be telling stories that really make people think and bring awareness to things going on in the world,” said Khan.

Alumni Q & A: Nery Rodriguez, Multimedia Journalist at Jersey Sports Zone

Nery Rodriguez is currently a multimedia journalist for Jersey Sports Zone. He graduated from Rowan in 2017 with a B.A. in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @RUneryrodriguez

NeryWhat’s something you love about your job?
I go somewhere different each day. The fact that I don’t punch in or sit in an office, and I get to work from home is a plus to my job. But I really enjoy that every day I will be interviewing someone new, seeing different scenery and I get to interact with players and coaches from different communities. The other part of my job that I love is I get to see high school talents that are committed to big time college programs. It’s great to watch them grow in terms of their athletic careers and people as they start a whole new chapter of their life.

What skill(s) have you learned at your job that you believe will help you or has helped you in the field you are in?
I’ve learned how to be a better video journalist — camera positioning, where to stand, head room, etc. But some of the most useful information is common sense and learning to not get overwhelmed such as if something doesn’t go your way. If you miss a shot or you don’t have a great standup, you have to keep going. Aim to do a great job every time, but if it’s not your day don’t be discouraged and hang your head.

What is your biggest challenge at your job?
The biggest challenge I have at my job is trying to educate people on our site and what we do. Jersey Sports Zone is a company that started out just filming high school sports in Monmouth and Ocean County as “Shore Sports Zone.” This year the company went state wide, and I was hired as one of their first employees.

How has Rowan’s journalism curriculum prepared you for this job?
I love Rowan. I owe my talent and everything I have received from this job to my many professors. The curriculum prepared me for real life scenarios and helps me at my job every day. You can’t teach experience, but everyone at Rowan makes sure you have a good understanding of what to do when those key situations arise.

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Spring 2018 Registration Begins Oct 17

Rowan University’s Spring 2018 registration starts:

•         October 17 – Seniors (90 credits and above)
•         October 23 – Juniors (58+ credits)
•         October 30 – Sophomores, (24+ credits)
•         November 6  – Freshmen, (0-23 credits)

Note: The Journalism Department now has dedicated academic advisors so that students get updated information about required courses and more access to appointment times.

If you have more than 45 credits, make an advising appointment with:
Alicia Groatman
Victoria Hall – Room #602 (across street from 301 High)
Email: groatman@rowan.edu
856.256.4735

If you have less than 45 credits, make an advising appointment with:
Esther J. Mummert
UAC-3rd Floor-Savitz Hall
Email: mummerte@rowan.edu
856-256-4090

Alumni Q & A: Waldy Diez, Staff Writer at Press of Atlantic City

Waldy Diez is currently a staff writer for Press of Atlantic City. She graduated from Rowan in 2013 with a B.A. in Journalism and a Minor in Spanish and International Studies. She has a M.S. in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. Follow her on Twitter at @_waldy 

Describe your current job and what you do on a daily basis?
I’m a staff writer on the breaking news/digital team covering Atlantic,Cape May, Cumberland and lower Ocean Counties.

Photo: Erin Grugan

On a daily basis, I rewrite press releases from police and event coordinators, and call the necessary people related to that release, if necessary. If breaking news happens, I’ll go out to the scene, live tweet photos and videos, and try to talk to the Chief, Captain, or whoever is in charge at the scene to figure out what happened.

I also schedule social media for Twitter and Facebook, do push alerts and help figure out how to display the stories on the website to reach the greatest audience possible.

What’s something you love about your job?
I honestly love pretty much everything about my job. I’ve returned to writing and reporter after producing TV for nearly two years, and it’s the best decision I have ever made. It allows me to use almost all of the skills I’ve learned in previous years – reporting, writing, photo, video and social media. The Press of AC also has podcasts, but I haven’t gotten involved in that yet.

What skill(s) have you learned at your job that you believe will help you or has helped you in the field you are in?
This may sound silly, especially considering I’m still pretty young and live in a digital world, but I’ve learned how to report using only my iPhone. I take photos and video, edit the video on my phone, upload the video to our server from my phone, and sometimes file my story via email. I live tweet photos and videos and can even live stream video from a service we use that connects directly to our website if it’s prepared ahead of time.

What is your biggest challenge at your job?
My biggest challenge at work is coming up with my own ideas for stories to cover. Since I’m on the breaking news desk, I do a lot of press release rewrites, but sometimes there are slow days, and it would nice to have something concrete to cover. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still a struggle.

How has Rowan’s journalism curriculum prepared you for this job?
Rowan’s journalism curriculum gave me a good understanding about journalism and how it works. It taught me how to write properly and that the AP Stylebook is your best friend. It gave me the necessary skills to get a job shortly after graduating, then accepted into grad school to learn more about video and broadcast journalism.

Has social media played a large role in your career so far? How has it helped/hurt you?
Social media has played a large role so far. Half of my job is making sure the website stays up to date with new content, posting to social media and driving people to our website. We have analytics websites, and it’s helped me truly understand people’s social media habits. People truly are active at 9 a.m.noon3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Those stats help me decide when to post important stories to social media, as well as send push alerts, to get the maximum audience we can.

Do you have any advice for aspiring journalists/journalism majors?
Say “yes” to everything, but don’t be afraid to say “no” either. This will allow you to try and learn new things that you might like, or not like.

Ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you don’t understand what you’re talking about, the reader/viewer won’t understand, either.

Get sleep and eat properly. This seems silly, but it really does affect you. Nobody wants to work with somebody who is hungry, cranky or tired.

Lastly, have fun! If you’re not having fun, you’ll hate your job. It’ll lead to burn out which may lead to illness, you not enjoying time out with friends or your life in general.