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.

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