By Lauren Daley ’05
Shortly after earning his communication degree from Stonehill, Neal O’Doherty ’09 was offered two jobs — as the producer for ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and as a video editor for Major League Baseball.
He took them both.
After a year of working for the hit game show and editing video footage for MLB.com, he landed a job as a post-production assistant on the hit FOX sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” starring Andy Samberg and Terry Crews. Now a post-production coordinator on the show, he was part of the team who picked up a 2014 Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy Series.
And while his burgeoning career is centered in the high-paced entertainment industry in Los Angeles, Neal says his road to success began 3,000 miles away, in Stonehill’s Communication Department.
“Stonehill’s communication professors are very knowledgeable and will give you the tools you need to succeed. It’s really just a matter of acting on what you learned,” said Neal, adding that he learned the basics of TV production in a Stonehill video production class.
Expanding Entertainment Industry Spurs Growth, Broader Focus
A decade ago, being a communication major at Stonehill was a great track to a career in public relations, marketing or journalism. Today, it’s that and so much more. With a redesigned radio station, expanded TV studio, popular Los Angeles Internship Program and a new minor in digital media production, communication majors and young alumni are finding increasing success in every medium.
“We’ve seen a growth in both interest and success in production-related fields, from entertainment media to more industrial roles,” said Ron Leone, a communication professor and the director of the Digital Media Production Program. The minor, added in 2014, uses Stonehill’s new studio, control room and film editing classroom.
Recent communication graduates are now working for the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, CBS Films, Disney/ABC TV, ESPN, Fidelity Investments, Nickelodeon, Hill Holliday and SONY Entertainment, among others.
“The rigors of the academic world at Stonehill definitely prepared me for the professional world I am in now,” said Sarah Galligan ’12, a communication major who graduated with a job offer in the Celtics' Business Operations & Arena Services Division. “It reminds me that you have to continually set the bar high for yourself and work hard.”
One of the department’s newest and most popular internship programs is the one in Los Angeles. Students in this program live and work in Los Angeles for 14 weeks and have interned at CBS, Disney, Focus Features, MGM, Warner Games, Warner Music and smaller “boutique” PR and talent management firms.
“Although a lot of larger communication schools offer semesters in LA, Stonehill is one of the only small, liberal arts colleges that offers an opportunity like this,” said Leone.
Mike Lemme ’12 says his internships were pivotal moments in deciding what he wanted to do with his communication degree.
Mike, who participated in the LA program and interned for “Conan O’Brien” on TBS and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC, went on to become a production assistant on ABC’s “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?” and to work as stand-up comedian.
Without Stonehill’s Communication Department internship opportunities, Mike said he would have had “no idea that my dreams were realistic.”
Journalism Program Embraces Latest Media Tools and Techniques
As the ways in which we communicate change with ever-advancing technology, the Stonehill Communication Department has evolved as well.
Maureen Boyle, director of the Journalism Program, said communication is rapidly changing, and her newswriting and reporting curriculum evolves by the semester to keep on pace with the way today’s — and tomorrow’s — readers and viewers want their news.
“We use iPads and smartphones to shoot and edit video, craft stories using social media, post stories online, as well as shoot and stream live video. We also look at the ethical issues surrounding the online media world and how to use available tools carefully,” Boyle said. “Students need to be familiar and comfortable with using technology to craft stories and other media messages because that is what they will likely be using once they graduate. I want them to be able to slide right into a great job when they graduate.”
Ted Carbone ’17, a mediated communication major and journalism minor, has already found a job as a radio producer for iHeartMedia, which owns four radio stations on Cape Cod. He produces a Sunday program, has worked as a sports reporter and helps with the station’s social media and Web pages.
“I’ve always liked telling stories,” said Ted, who was a sports broadcaster for Stonehill’s radio station, 91.3 WSHL. “By telling people something, whether I’m on the air or in person, I feel like I’m connecting with them.”
Strong Communication Skills at Core of Successful Marketing Careers
Tara Daniels ’14 slid right into her job as an associate of integrated productions at DigitasLBi, the largest digital marketing agency in Boston, whose clients include Dunkin’ Donuts, OnStar, Puma, Liberty Mutual, Bank of America and Victoria’s Secret.
Tara said she didn’t discover her passion for marketing until an internship during her last semester at Stonehill. Because her communication degree was “so flexible,” once she discovered marketing, Tara was still “able to do something I really loved,” she said.
“Communication is a track that allows you to do many different things and explore your options. Stonehill’s Communication Department was vital in teaching me everything I know — how to understand different communication styles, how to research, how to behave in a business setting and how to prioritize my tasks,” said Tara.
As digital media and the way we communicate evolve, communication graduates “become increasingly important to business,” said Professor Anne Mattina, department chair. “Communication … is seen as an increasingly important knowledge base (and) is also highly in demand as a skill set in the contemporary workforce.”
Yannis Barros ’16 is one of those people whose digital media skills are serving him well. He is a social media intern this summer at Boston 2024 Partnership Inc., a nonprofit group working to bring the Olympics to Boston. In that role, he organizes content for the group’s Twitter account, pitches ideas for engagement and monitors mentions on social networks.
“Stonehill’s Communication Department has set me on a path for success. Twitter is something they emphasize (in course curriculum), as social media become more prevalent in public relations,” said Yannis, who plans on a career in public relations when he graduates next spring.