Noelle Lashley and Kevin Schatell are recent graduates of Grady College who have gone on to work in the industry.

Alumni Advice: Noelle Lashley and Kevin Schatell

Graduation is the end goal of attending college, but getting there can be stressful. Hear from recent Grady grads about their life after graduation and what they wish they had known before entering into the “real world.”

What do you wish you had known before graduating?

Noelle Lashley, Missoula morning reporter for Wake Up Montana: “I wish I’d known that nothing could truly prepare me for the experience of my first job. I actually made myself sick during my last semester of college because I was so focused on becoming perfectly ready to dive into my first reporting gig, but life doesn’t work that way.”

Kevin Schatell, associate producer at NBC News: “My advice to current journalism students? Seek out what scares you and learn all that you can. As a student, I think I was too wrapped up in the idea of wanting to be creative and produce content, and I wish I’d taken more time to be curious and learn about the areas of the media industry that intimidated me.”

What did you learn outside the classroom that could have been helpful inside the classroom?

Come prepared with pitches

“Don’t be afraid to talk about your ideas. Sometimes when I was in college, I’d shut down because I was afraid of looking or sounding silly. I’d miss out on an opportunity to do a great story because I was afraid of what someone would think of me and my pitch. Nope. Throw that way of thinking out the window. Come to class or a pitch meeting with tons of ideas in your back pocket. The majority of them might not work, and that’s OK. Talk them out. Come at them from a few different angles. Try something completely outside the norm. You’re only going to find the great ones if you’re willing to dig and kiss a few frogs in the process.” Noelle Lashley

Communication across all platforms

“A crucial skill in my job — and the industry as a whole — is communication in all directions. On a daily basis, I manage interns and NBC Pages, pitch to executive producers and provide customer service for the audience that visits the Today Show. Equally as important as communication in all directions is communication on all platforms. Each day consists of public speaking in front of large crowds, one-on-one conversations, emails, phone calls and social media posts. Each of those has to be delivered in a unique way but with a consistent voice. The people I’ve seen who are thriving in the media industry are self-aware and able to tailor their communication style depending on their audience. The more you can intentionally craft your written and verbal communication skills, the better.” –Kevin Schatell

What advice do you have for current students now that you have seen the other side of graduating?

Get out of your comfort zone

Don’t let your life be governed by fear of the unknown.

I have a necklace that says, “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” It’s true. I originally thought I was going to stay in Georgia for my first job. I had it all planned out…then I realized that I needed to step outside of my own comfort zone. There was a little nudge inside me that kept telling me to look at Montana. I made an excel spreadsheet of every local news station in the state, and I would cycle through the stations every few days to look for openings. No one in my family had ever lived in Montana. I had one friend who lived there, and he was hours away from any of the stations I was considering. My entire existing support system was on the east coast. People’s reaction to my goal ranged from disbelief to disgust to full conversations about how my choice was going to wreck my career. I was scared, but I knew I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t try. I tried. Now I’m the sole morning reporter for my station in Missoula, Montana. It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’ve only been on air for six weeks, and I’ve already had incredible opportunities that I never would have been given in a larger market. I’ve made wonderful friends, and I don’t feel alone or isolated anymore. I get to look outside and see snow-capped mountains when I’m driving around for work, and I’m trying things I never would have done in Georgia. I’m sure I’ll look back on my life and have regrets at the end, but I’m not going to wish that I had taken a chance on myself in my 20s. I did.

Your greatest victories and your greatest challenges are waiting for you. Don’t miss out on them because you let fear decide your destiny. Noelle Lashley

Act like an owner

One of our core values at NBCUniversal is ownership. That’s not something I spent a lot of time thinking about in college, but I wish I had. The idea is to act like an owner, not a renter. For example: if you’re renting an apartment and you discover a hole in the wall, what do you do? If you’re like me, your instinct is likely to cover it with a picture frame and think “Eh, not my problem — someone else will fix that.” The difference is, as an owner, you have a bigger investment. You’d fix the hole rather than cover it up. That’s how we’re encouraged to treat our work. There’s no room for a “that’s not my problem” mentality in the news and entertainment industries. Focus on having an owner’s mentality in all the work you do, whether it’s classes, organizations on campus, internships or a full-time job. Kevin Schatell

Date: November 29, 2018


Editor:  Ashley Soriano,  ashleysoriano@uga.edu