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Thanks To NBCU Academy, Student Journalists Are Taking The Lead

At the NBCU Academy Next Level Summit, hosted on April 11 at CNBC headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, leadership was on everyone’s minds. Being a student (or freshly post-grad), it can be easy to step back and let other team members take the lead. But, these influential journalists want you to raise your hand, step outside your comfort zone, and make a name for yourself

NBCU Academy is a multi-platform education initiative focused on creating access and opportunity for people across all genders, races, geographic and socio-economic backgrounds, and perspectives. It’s open to everyone from high school to well into their post-grad career. And it’s all aimed at making you (yes, you) a more powerful person in media. 

The Unlocking Your Leadership Potential panel featured Melissa Lee, host of CNBC’s Fast Money; KC Sullivan, President of CNBC; Rashida Jones, President of MSNBC; José Cancela, President of Telemundo Station Group; and Frances Berwick, Chairman of NBCUniversal Entertainment. This diverse group shared the details of their early careers and the lessons they learned.

Rashida Jones shared that, while in college at Hampton University, she was also a morning show producer, and she would often nap in edit bays on set to be able to accomplish everything. She credits her passion for media as a way of making it possible. “I think that a lesson learned for me early in my career, raising your hand to do things even if they make no sense whatsoever, even if it’s beyond what your core skill set is, or even your core interest level,” Jones said. “Being around and being accessible will also illustrate to your colleagues and bosses your willingness and passion to contribute in any way that you can.” 

KC Sullivan noted that he keeps an adage from his mother close on his mind, a reminder that he doesn’t know everything. “There have been many instances where it’s important to stand in front of a group and take their questions and it’s okay to not know all the answers,” he said. “And let them know you’re in the boat together with them.” 

Speakers also touched on the growth that is required to continue evolving and succeeding within media. Francis Berwick pointed out that consistency and intent are vital within every possible role on every level. “It’s really important that you be intentional about everything you do,” Berwick said. “Whether it’s sort of sitting on a Zoom call and how much you pay attention.” Honestly, couldn’t we all pay a little more attention on Zoom meetings?

The crowd at the event was diverse as well, with over 4,000 people registered for the event nationwide, plus dozens of students on set at CNBC headquarters. Students from local universities including Montclair University and Rutgers University were able to ask questions, chat with the panelists, and explore the CNBC campus. 

“I learned the power of leadership and how as Gen Z we are the next team of leaders breaking into storytelling. We need to be the change makers that tell the stories that we want to hear and see,” said Isabella Alvarez, the event coordinator at Her Campus Montclair. “It was inspiring to see the program actively being produced by young journalists. It gave me hope that there are opportunities for us coming out of college to succeed and contribute to something that can inspire.”

“Today was an experience because I wanted the opportunity to be around leaders,” Imani Perry, a 21-year-old senior at Townson University, said. “I really learned it about who you know and how you get your foot in the door and networking.” 

Listening to the experiences of these influential journalists was eye-opening as a twenty-something finding their way in the world as words of wisdom were offered during the leadership panel. It was refreshing to hear such personal reminders of how to be successful. I left this panel feeling like success as a leader was not as hard as I thought — it just takes consistency and a willingness to learn. 

Julia is a national writer for Her Campus. While she writes for all verticals, her focus is the wellness section, bringing you everything you need to know about relationships, astrology, and the best ways to get down and dirty. Julia is a grad student at Syracuse University where she studies communications. She is a graduate of Stony Brook University, where she studied journalism with a minor in women's studies. During her time at SBU, she was a VS PINK campus rep, and an active member of Her Campus @ SBU. When she isn't writing, you can find Julia reading a smutty romance novel, hitting up her local crystal shop, or thrifting with an iced oat milk latte in hand. She's a Capricorn (but you probably already knew that) and a practicing yogi.