Pursuits, Pivots and Passions
The Department of Media & Communication invites alumni back to talk about their experiences and offer advice.
By: Grace Oddo ’22
Tuesday, April 19, 2022 02:29 PM
Elizabeth Whitney ’04 moderated the Careers Beyond the Media Industry panel, one of six panels offered during Alumni Week.
At the Careers Beyond the Media Industry discussion on Thursday, March 31, moderator Elizabeth Whitney ’04 highlighted three central themes when introducing the alumni panelists: pursuits, pivots and passions.
Elana Banin’ 10 pursued her dream of teaching English to children in Thailand before pivoting into a career in public policy, starting with the Human Development Forum Foundation. Both John Carter ’11 and Haley Hnatuk ’20 pivoted when their respective jobs were no longer bringing them joy. And Meredith Lipson ’19 discovered a passion for communications after she transferred to Muhlenberg. Although coming from different experiences, the four alumni had one thing in common: their paths were not linear.
Careers Beyond the Media Industry was just one installment of the Department of Media & Communication’s Alumni Week, a yearly event that features panels in which alumni share their experiences in the communications industry and engage with current students. Although usually in-person, this year’s events were held via Zoom.
“The energy and excitement from the alumni was infectious,” says Professor of Media & Communication Jeff Pooley. “We can’t wait to return to our open-call format next year, back in Walson Hall.”
Alumni Week also featured talks from alumni who work in health communications, the music industry and in film.
The Careers Beyond the Media Industry panel began with each alum introducing themselves and giving a bit of insight into their career. Hnatuk is a content marketing coordinator at Fastmail, a privacy-oriented email service, in addition to assisting Drew Swedberg ’17 in the production of a documentary. Carter lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for Portland Community College as its transportation demand manager, teaching students and faculty sustainable transportation habits. Banin is back from living abroad, working at the International Rescue Committee as a policy advisor. Lipson, who cheerfully told viewers that she was “coming at you live from Philadelphia,” is a first-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. She discussed how her communications classes helped her realize her passion for social justice, ultimately influencing her decision to attend law school.
When asked about their time at Muhlenberg, all four credited the media & communication department and faculty for providing them with the tools they needed to succeed after graduating. “I just felt so supported,” says Lipson. “All of the professors gave me the confidence I needed to flourish academically and to properly engage with the content.”
The panel ended with a Q&A for current students. Hallie Hoffman ’22 feels a particularly close connection to Alumni Week this year, as she is currently trying to navigate the transition from college to her first job.
“As a senior, I found it most valuable to hear about what came in between transitioning from college to their first jobs or transitioning from one job to another,” Hoffman says. “Many of the alumni emphasize the importance of embracing these changes and transition periods and being able to go with the flow when opportunities arise, and that advice really resonated with me as I consider life after college.”