She’s currently the Managing Editor of The Daily Targum, an intern at 30 Rock at the flagship station of the WNBC Television Network in New York City, and a senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies.
In our Q&A below, Madison McGay ’22 describes her evolution from a freshman who only knew she enjoyed writing, to a senior who is prepared for an exciting career in journalism and media following graduation. Crediting the JMS program for her success, she said the wide variety of excellent classes and access to top-notch faculty have helped her become a better journalist, writer, and communicator.
Did you arrive at Rutgers planning to study journalism?
When I first came to Rutgers, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up joining The Daily Targumas a writer, as I loved writing and wanted to explore what this field had to offer. I ended up really enjoying this work and decided to officially enroll in the JMS program.
How is your academic experience at SC&I helping you reach your goals?
I think the fact that SC&I offers such a large variety of classes is what has helped me the most. Because I didn’t know much about journalism until I came to Rutgers, I really had no idea just how many directions you could go with it. Being able to explore several different types of journalism and media has given me a better understanding of just how many opportunities I can pursue once I graduate.
Is there any specific teacher, project, or experience that has impacted you the most? Why was it so impactful?
Professor Juan González has impacted me the most by far during my time in the JMS program. He’s taught me so much about what it means to be a journalist and to really pursue a story both in his investigative reporting class and working with him as a research assistant. Apart from the actual practice of working on a story and finding information, he’s taught me so much about sticking to important issues and following through in order to make a meaningful difference in the community.
Are you applying what you are learning in your JMS classes directly to your internship at WNBC in New York? If so, how?
Yes. I’m an intern at 30 Rock. My responsibilities are supportive in nature, but I am learning every step of the way and applying my knowledge attained through the JMS program into my work at the assignment desk. Here, I work with our team to actually build the newscast – knowing what is timely and newsworthy, understanding how to gather information and the elements required to put a story on the air, particularly considering the incredibly high standards that WNBC and NBCUniversal require. I would not have been able to excel in this role without the knowledge and lessons learned in the JMS program.
How did you obtain the internship at WNBC in New York? What steps did you have to take to reach this goal?
I grew up watching NBC, so when I began looking for internship opportunities, I knew I was going to pursue the program with WNBC. I applied directly through their online application portal, which was simple to use. I was selected to participate in a video interview and after going through additional stages, I completed a final interview with WNBC’s Assignment Editor. It went so well that I was hired.
What is it like to work there, and do you have advice for anyone who wishes to intern there? What are your roles and responsibilities as an intern?
It’s a great experience! It can be a bit overwhelming at times. Working at 30 Rock at the flagship station of the WNBC Television Network brings high expectations amid so many moving parts. My roles can change by the minute and as I’ve learned, they are supportive – but critical and play a role in everything we do. Answering phone calls, logging press releases, transcribing quotes from video interviews, making follow-up phone calls regarding breaking news. And that’s just one day. My biggest piece of advice for someone interested in working at WNBC is to be as open-minded as possible and pay close attention to what’s going on around you. It’s a very fast paced environment so it can be hard to keep up at times when you’re not used to it, but there’s so much value in observing how the professionals around you work. It makes your own work even better.
What are your future career goals?
Right now, I’m pretty open with where I end up after graduating from Rutgers. I know I want to continue working in journalism and the media in some capacity, but I’m still learning everyday what career options are available to me. I definitely want to keep working in the news industry, particularly covering local communities, as it’s really important to me that everyday people are aware of what’s going on close to home and the things that will impact them more directly.
What skills and insights will you take away from the JMS program?
The biggest insight I’ll take away from the JMS program is that you’ll never have to put yourself in a box with this career path. There are so many different directions you can go, but a lot of the skills and knowledge overlap. It’s comforting to know that if in the future I decide to try something new, it won’t feel like I’m starting all over.
What advice do you have for anyone at any stage of their undergraduate experience who is considering taking on journalism and interested in the Rutgers JMS Program?
I definitely recommend taking advantage of the large variety of course options the JMS program has to offer. Even if you have a pretty good idea of what route you want to take, it’s the perfect change to explore and expand your knowledge. I also highly recommend joining The Daily Targum because it’s a great opportunity for students to put what they’re learning in the JMS program to work and to gain real-world experience. From working as a writer, to associate news editor, to the current managing editor, I’ve been able to apply what I have learned to real projects outside of the classroom.