The KU School of Journalism and Mass Communications invited alumni back to its Home on the Hill for J-School Generations, a two-day homecoming event.
One of the highlights was J-Talk, a TED-talk style event featuring alumni sharing stories of lessons they’ve learned through their careers.
Carlos P. Beltran, c’09, j’09, discussed his experiences as a digital content producer, both as a freelancer and for NBC Left Field, a documentary unit that profiles human-interest stories such as a KU alumnus’ classroom museum.
We sat down with Beltran to ask him more about his time at KU and his advice on choosing what to do after graduation.
When did you know what you wanted to do your career?
Ever since I was a child running around with a camera I knew I wanted to do something with video. It wasn’t until my second year at KU that I switched to journalism and decided to do it for a living.
As for what kind of video, it wasn’t until 2013, when I finished a fiction project that took two years of my life and it didn’t pan out the way I wanted. I decided I didn’t need fancy equipment and huge crews. I knew that with a camera, a microphone, a great subject, and my editing skills, I could make good work, and I dedicated myself to documentary filmmaking.
How did you get involved with such a cool production like NBC Left Field?
The unit opened a year and a half ago in Brooklyn, and after freelancing in Venezuela for a couple years I was looking for somewhere to settle down. My good friend Mariana Keller, who works at NBC News Digital told me about the opening, and after sitting down with the leader of the unit they liked my work enough to bring me on.
How did your time at KU help you get to where you are now?
I learned everything from ethics, to how to approach networks with my work, the basics of narrative and storytelling, and of course editing over at Dole, spending days editing on Final Cut Pro 7 in the media labs. Here you’ll learn how to be a great journalist, out there, you practice being one. Once you leave, don’t think you’ll get the perfect job right off the bat. You’ll go through times where you’ll discover what you don’t like to do. It might take years, it took me from graduation in 2009 to 2013 when I realized what I really wanted to do.
What advice do you have for those starting out in their careers?
When I graduated from school, I thought I wanted to work at an ad agency, or work in video, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I immediately thought I maybe should go get my masters, but I never did. Someone told me “if you want to be a documentary filmmaker, go make documentaries.” Go make one, and then you’ll have a business card. If you want to work in this industry, don’t wait until someone commissions you. If you find an amazing character, then shoot the story. That two minute video that you produced independently shows your skills and that you’re passionate about your work. Go shoot something, make yourself a portfolio.
Thomas Angel took the long road to the University of Kansas, but he’s making sure his time here counts. Thanks to the power of the KU Mentoring platform, Angel connected with a practicing surgeon who he will shadow over winter break.
Coming to KU
After nearly a decade deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait, Angel tore his PCL and had microfracture surgery. He chose to be “med boarded out” and applied to the University of Kansas on his girlfriend’s recommendation.
Angel is pursuing a double major in Latin and behavioral neuroscience, the latter of which requires an extensive amount of shadowing to be accepted into medical school. After studying abroad in Italy last summer, he was looking for a mentorship with someone in his dream career of neurosurgery.
Making a Connection
After learning about the KU Alumni Mentoring platform through the Student Alumni Leadership Board, Angel jumped at the opportunity. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is to find doctors who are willing to let students shadow,” he said.
One of the recommended mentors was Dr. John Aucar, c’82, MD’86, an acute care surgeon and KU alumnus. Angel connected with him through the platform and they set up a meeting that Saturday.
“When I met Dr. Aucar we immediately made a connection. My first duty station was in El Paso, Texas, and he practices in the area. Over winter break he’ll be in El Paso, and he invited me to join him. To be able to meet a mentor that you instantly click with, can have a successful relationship with and both benefit in different ways from the experience is a dream come true.”
Angel wants to be a neurosurgeon, a goal that comes with seven to eight years of residency. With that much preparation required, he strives to make his experiences count.
“My number one goal for job shadowing is to make a personal connection with the person I’m shadowing. Beyond that, it’s about making sure you understand what’s actually happening. A lot of times, especially with medical, the doctors aren’t teachers. You have to work to get answers from them. It’s easy to just stand and watch, but understanding why they’re doing it is my key to shadowing.”
Helping Students Succeed
Since arriving at KU, Angel has taken advantage of the many opportunities provided to him, including joining the Student Alumni Leadership Board to add a voice for students like him. “I wanted to find a niche on campus for non-traditional students to be in leadership positions. I saw it as a place for me where my opinion matters and where I can help create and shape [Student Alumni Network] events.”
Angel draws from a completely different set of experiences compared to traditional students, but he wants those in his shoes to know that they belong on this campus.
“The KU community is completely different than how you think it would be from the outside looking in. I am involved in several different clubs and boards around campus and fit in just fine. I’m 12 years older than my average peer at this stage in my academic career and I learn things from them daily, and I hope that they learn from me just as well. Non-traditional students have life experiences and stories of their own that can positively impact this campus.”
Stay tuned for more about Angel’s job-shadowing experience during winter break. For more information on how the Jayhawk Career Network can help you connect with KU alumni, visit kualumni.org/jayhawkcareernetwork.
The importance of mentors and the rise of e-sports highlighted a lively discussion June 21, when eight Kansas City-area professionals in the sports industry shared their varied expertise, career journeys and advice during a Jayhawk Career Network event at the headquarters of Populous in Kansas City. The Association’s Greater Kansas City Network hosted the panel discussion, which drew an audience of more than 50, including alumni and students.
Association President Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, encouraged participants to join the KU Mentoring digital community at mentoring.ku.edu or through the Association’s mobile app. KU Mentoring is the first phase of the Association’s Jayhawk Career Network, a multi-faceted strategy to connect students to the powerful network of Jayhawks worldwide and connect alumni across industries, he said. Kristi Durkin Laclé, c’99, assistant vice president of the Jayhawk Career Network, leads the program.
Program and panelists
Introducing the panelists was Jordan Bass, KU assistant professor of health, sport and exercise science who directs the sport management program. Panelists included:
Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff
Earl Santee, a’81, a’82, Americas managing director and founder at Populous
Andrea Hudy, KU assistant athletics director for sports performance
Stephen Hopkins, a’05, president of Shield Healthcare and Sport
Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation
Matt Baty, d’07, KU associate athletics director, Williams Education Fund
Kim Hobbs, j’94, vice president of corporate partnerships and premium sales for the Kansas City Chiefs
Zach Mendenhall, c’05, j’05, director of client engagement at VML
Santee, who in his 33 years with Populous has helped design stadiums, arenas and other event spaces nationwide, says architects and designers must collaborate to create not only inviting spaces but also great experiences for the public—and that extends to the new trend, venues for e-sports.
Mendenhall manages sports marketing partnerships, including the digital campaigns, for Wendy’s, a VML client. “We are challenged to not just slap logos on ads but to do a lot with social media activation and trying to find relevant, fun ways to bring sponsorships to life,” he said. As for the e-sports craze: “We all rolled our eyes at first, but it’s amazing how many people watch these competitions. It speaks to the fact that advertising in sports is constantly evolving.”
Hancock, who began his career in the athletics department at his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, and went on to lead the NCAA Final Four and the Bowl Championship Series before launching the College Football Playoff, said the fervor for college sports is intrinsically tied to school loyalty: “A triple-A Lawrence team in the NFL or the NBA would not have nearly the passion that the Jayhawks have, and it’s because it’s a part of higher education.”
When the discussion turned to mentors, Hancock named three: former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, d’53; Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer; and longtime KU Athletics Director Bob Frederick, d’63, g’64, EdD’84. “If you’re lucky, your mentors also become your friends,” Hancock said.
Jayhawks celebrated their alma mater’s past, present and future at the 23rd annual Rock Chalk Ball, held April 28 at the Kansas City Convention Center. This year’s event concluded a week of inauguration festivities for Chancellor Douglas A. Girod.
Hosted by the Alumni Association and the Greater Kansas City Network, the annual event unites Jayhawks in the nation’s largest KU community and raises funds for Association programs to advocate for KU; communicate to alumni and friends in all media; recruit students and volunteers; serve current students, alumni and KU; and unite all Jayhawks.
Chancellor Girod and his wife, Susan, served as honorary event chairs. Curtis Marsh, j’92, director of KU Info and the DeBruce Center, lent his voice—and his wealth of KU knowledge and traditions—as this year’s emcee. The event featured silent and live auctions and the enthusiastic sounds of the Patrick Lentz Band, one of Kansas City’s premier cover bands. The KU Libraries exhibit, History of the Jayhawk, was on display during the cocktail hour.
Sasha Flores Boulware, c’98, g’00, and Billy Marshall, c’00, served as network co-chairs for the event.
In keeping with the Alumni Association’s mission to strengthen KU, proceeds from the 2018 Rock Chalk Ball will be used to benefit legacy student recruitment and student programs. Proceeds from the Fund-A-Need portion of the auction will benefit the Jayhawk Career Network. A new KU Alumni Mentoring Program will be launched this fall to give students easy access to the power of our alumni base.
Thank you to the event’s title sponsor, Tickets For Less, and the presenting sponsors—Boulevard Brewing, Charlie Hustle and Gohagan— for their contributions to the live auction.
Check out some of our favorite social posts from Rock Chalk Ball below! Official photos from the event, courtesy of Steve Puppe, are available here and may be downloaded for personal use. If you attended this year’s Rock Chalk Ball, we’d love to have your feedback—please complete our survey.
On February 20, 2018, alumni and friends from all over the world will come together to support the University of Kansas during KU’s first 24-hour giving campaign, One Day. One KU. This historic fundraising event is the perfect opportunity to show your Jayhawk pride by supporting the KU programs and priorities most meaningful to you.
Why February 20?
On February 20, 1863, Kansas Governor Thomas Carney signed into law a bill locating the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The bill passed the state House of Representatives by just one vote, proving that one person can make a difference! That one vote started a chain of events that, over time, has led to the thriving, multi-campus center for research and learning we are today. While we now have campuses located throughout the state, we are still ONE KU. And together, we can achieve so much!
How can you help?
We already know that one person can make a difference. Our history proves that. Please consider supporting KU on Tuesday, February 20 during One Day. One KU. Your support helps us advance our mission and strengthen our programs.
Jayhawk Career Network
Your generous contribution to the KU Alumni Association during One Day. One KU. will help fund the Jayhawk Career Network, a comprehensive initiative to connect current KU students with alumni, and alumni with one another, in numerous professional fields. The Association has created a new position for a full-time staff member to lead these new programs:
KU Alumni Mentoring, an online mentorship platform
With the support of Chancellor Douglas Girod and Provost Neeli Bendapudi, the Association has invested in a new digital service to easily connect students and alumni for long-term and one-time mentorships. The platform will support both student-to-alumni mentorships and mentorships among fellow Jayahwk alumni.
The Association is launching KU Alumni Mentoring in collaboration with the KU schools of Architecture & Design, Business, Engineering and Journalism, as well as the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the University Career Center.
Rock Chalk Connect events:
In key metropolitan areas, the Association and alumni volunteers will host programs to unite students with alumni experts in various industries. Successful Kansas City and Chicago events have focused on engineering, media and entrepreneurship, and the Association plans to offer Rock Chalk Connect programs in other communities with large Jayhawk alumni networks: Wichita, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Seattle, the San Francisco/Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Opportunities for shadowing, internships and post-graduation employment through direct relationships with KU alumni at corporations and firms in these key metropolitan areas—in coordination and partnership with the University Career Center.
With the ongoing support of Alumni Association members and contributors, the Jayhawk Career Network will help ensure the continued success of KU graduates.
The Jayhawk Career Network event on Monday, Nov. 27, allowed students access to real-world insight from Portia Kibble Smith, c’78, and Mark Mears, j’84. Putting your best foot forward was a common theme as both guest speakers brought to light what really counts when networking.
Just be yourself
When it comes to networking and interview preparation, the best advice is to simply be yourself. For some, that might be easier said than done. To be the most authentic and best version of yourself, you must first know who you are.
Mark Mears, j’84, stressed the importance of taking personality tests when preparing for interviews. When he spoke recently with KU students, Mears revealed, “your resume tells part of the story.” He believes grounding yourself in who you are helps show future employers the other part.
“None of the personality results are bad,” he said. Instead, these tests show who you really are, not necessarily who you think you are.
Whether it’s a DISC or a Myers-Briggs, these tests highlight your strengths. KU’s University Career Center even offers various assessments. Once you have a sense of who you are, you can understand how you work in a team setting and what you bring to the table.
Are you a leader? Do you work well under pressure? Do you try to keep the peace? Whatever your strength, remain true to whatever makes you “you.”
The KU Alumni Association and the Jayhawk Career Network are here to help students and alumni. Find more information about career resources, networking, and tips from alumni on our website.