Samantha Roberts: TCNJ Alumni and HGTV Market Assistant

Samantha Roberts, a TCNJ Class of 2017 alumna, is currently working as a Market Assistant at HGTV Magazine. As HGTV’s Market Assistant, she travels from her hometown of Mahwah, NJ to New York City every day to speak to brands and use her public relations skills to help build magazine spreads months in advance. She graduated with a degree in Journalism and Professional Writing.

I got the chance to speak with her and ask her some questions about her professional life. Here's what she had to say:

What were you interested in as a young girl and how does that translate into what you do now?

Growing up I always had this thing for magazines — I collected Teen Vogue and Seventeen. Since I knew I always liked them, that’s kind of the reason why I studied journalism at TCNJ. That's where all of my internships and extracurriculars outside of school came in with PR and communications. It wasn't until my senior year that I figured out I could combine my interest in magazines with my interest in PR. That’s kind of how I ended up here.

This job fell into my lap, as someone from TCNJ works at HGTV Magazine as well. She forwarded the position to Professor Webber, and that’s how I got it. I communicate with PR companies and brands on a daily basis, which is so much of what my internships at school were about.

What drew me to magazines was the creative process. Don't get me wrong, I like to write and I have fun doing so, but there were times I realized I didn't want it as a career. Such at when I was at TCNJ and President of Odyssey. With that role, I had to write multiples of articles each week. Though it was fun -- you have to be a powerhouse to do it -- and I just didn't feel like writing was so much for me.

How did your experiences interning in college help prepare you for your career?

When I was applying for internships it was difficult. My first one was in Public Relations for Little Words Project. It was a positive experience and a great stepping stone for where I've ended up. At that internship, the daily tasks differed. Some days we beaded bracelets, other days we did social media, and sometimes we even looked through magazines for clips. It’s really cool looking back on the experience now, because the brand has taken off.

My internship at Michael Aram was also in Public Relations. The brand is a home furnishing company, and overall I really enjoyed the experience, especially because it plays into what I do today. I’ve always been interested in interior design and being around that so much during my internship definitely helped me when I was applying for the job with HGTV.

I had another internship at Jill Stuart, which was focused on fashion. I loved fashion magazines as a younger girl, so I wanted to give the industry a try. In hindsight, I am super grateful that I did and figured out it wasn't really for me. The internship kept me on my toes and was definitely fun, but it wasn't my niche. Even if you come away not knowing what you want to do, it’s a valuable experience.

What is a market assistant? What is your day-to-day like?

I’m talking to people every single day from companies and brands like Wayfarer and West Elm. It’s really important for me to have good relationships. When I have events and press previews I’m always connecting. It’s important to be in everyone's good graces and I feel like my internships prepared me because they showed me what I wanted and didn't want.

What do you like/dislike about working in New York City?

Working in New York City has made me really confident in myself. Beyond being able to navigate around the city, I think you need to be tough and have a thick skin to work here and deal with the day-to-day of it all -- and I've achieved that. I definitely wanted to end up here and I'm confident I have a grasp on the city now. I take express trains and my commute isn't terrible.

What is your proudest TCNJ accomplishment?

I feel like I always did a really good job of balancing school, social life, and everything beyond. I was never in over my head and always found time to have fun and be a college student. I always did well and tried my hardest. Beyond that, I was Vice President of Delta Zeta for two years, which was a big accomplishment for me. I feel like when you put your all into something, you want to see it through and make sure it continues to be what it can. I feel like I gave it my all throughout college and I love hearing about how things are going now. You won’t get as much out of it if you do not put your all into it. That’s always been important.

How do you credit Delta Zeta for helping prepare you for life outside of college?

It prepared me a few ways. I was on the executive board for a few years and there were definitely times when I doubted myself. But, when you are charged with leading something, you have to step up for those who depend on you. I never wanted to be someone who just made decisions to be popular. I really cared about the longevity of the sorority. Beyond that, Delta Zeta has brought me great friends that I am still close to.

What is your ultimate career goal?

I think about this a lot and then I have to step back and remind myself to live in the moment. It would definitely need to be a creative position in some capacity, because that’s how my brain is wired and that’s how I think. For now, I’m just really loving it where I am. Luckily for me, and that’s just the nature of this world. I’m always working on something different. No two days are the same here.

What advice would you give college seniors?

I would say keep an open mind — that’s so important. I did that after college and when I applied for this position it was a freelance position and they told me they couldn't promise me a full time offer. I had to figure out what I wanted and luckily, I tried something that interested me, and it rolled over into a full-time job. Take a chance and step outside of your comfort zone. I don't know what would have happened if I didn’t.