Oglethorpe Helps Petrel to Fly in New Direction

Coming back to the Oglethorpe campus 10 years after graduation was an odd feeling. Much about the university was the same, but I was definitely different. I’d been out in the “real world” for several years and here I was back at the old Petrel’s Nest.

I graduated from OU in 2002 and worked at a local agency that did casting for various film and television projects. After that, I spent six years as a marketing communications manager. I enjoyed certain things about both jobs, but my passions were not being stoked and I knew I needed to make a big change. Was the elusive dream job out there somewhere?

I took some chances and got very close, but things didn’t quite work out. After learning some hard lessons I found myself suddenly without a job. It felt like the whole world was breathing down my neck wondering what I was going to do. A common piece of advice I received was “networking!” “You must network!” “It’s all about who you know!” So, I reached out to the usual friends, family members and OU grads with whom I’d kept in touch; but, I knew I needed to do more.

Reed Barrickman '02

In July 2012 I visited the Oglethorpe Career Services Center. I got some good advice and was pointed to the Alumni Office (networking!). There I met with Barb Henry who impressively rattled off the names of several fellow Petrels who might be able to help me get my career back on track. I also began receiving emails from Career Services about internships and job opportunities that were aligned with my interests.

Sometime in August I got an email about this new program at Oglethorpe called Pegasus Creative. Among other things, they were looking for a social media intern. Social media was a big puzzle piece missing from my marketing communications experience. I decided to apply.

I have spent the majority of the 2012-2013 academic year as the social media specialist of the Pegasus Creative team. Through both research and conversation I’ve gained a much greater understanding of social media and the most effective ways to utilize it. I’ve also been able to exercise my writing, researching and video editing skills. Furthermore, because of Pegasus Creative I got a very valuable freelance job through a connection with a member of the University Communications staff. More experience for my resume!

I also thoroughly enjoyed two Pegasus “field studies.” One was to a local digital marketing firm and the other was an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at CNN. Pegasus Creative is a great way to explore and develop your skills in a real working atmosphere. I also think it’s a great way to help figure out which direction you’d like to take your career. It’s been quite an experience being back at Oglethorpe on a regular basis amongst all of these impressive and quirky students. Luckily they don’t make me feel too old.

Everyone involved in the program has been really helpful and supportive while I pursue some freelance work and continue my “dream job” search. I’m sincerely grateful to Oglethorpe for this great opportunity. I’m proof that your college education doesn’t have to end at graduation. I just wish they’d had Pegasus back when I was a student.

CNN News Editor & OU Alumnus Welcomes ‘Pegasus Creative’ Behind the Scenes

Joe Sutton '09

Last semester, I made one of the best decisions of my undergraduate career: I became a part of Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, launched in the fall by the University Communications department. Thanks to Pegasus, I’ve gained hands-on experience, internship credit, and the confidence that can only come from a supportive, skillful team. (For those students out there, with summer internship orientation around the corner, why not consider applying to Pegasus?)

One of the (numerous!) great things about Pegasus is that we are offered field studies—we’re required to complete at least one—to enhance our skills and learn about other real world communications careers. Recently, my co-workers and I ventured on one such trip: a behind-the-scenes tour of CNN, courtesy of Joe Sutton ’09 (an alumnus of Oglethorpe’s program for adult students), who generously took time out of his busy schedule to show us around his workplace. Joe has quickly climbed the so-called ladder of success, earning numerous promotions, and is now a news editor and journalist for CNN. He oversees the editorial direction and news gathering for 13 states and serves as the liaison between the Washington, D.C. bureau and CNN headquarters. He credits much of his early success to Oglethorpe.

“The least I can do is stay in contact with the institution that has made me who I am and the education that has allowed me to take on any damn thing I put my mind to,” said Joe. “Being at school late at night and taking some weekend classes helped me fully prepare to take on more complex, time-devoting career positions. I understand how to manage time effectively and juggle multiple projects simultaneously, and I love being under pressure and deadlines… What I set my eyes and mind on, I usually get! That’s the stormy petrel in me.”

“It was a great opportunity to see things up close and in person,” said Zach Kevorkian ’13, Pegasus’s graphic designer. “The exclusivity of it made us feel like we were part of the excitement. The fact that our tour was personalized by an alum made it all the better, and I was grateful for the fun afternoon with my friends at Pegasus!”

Caitlyn Mitchell '13 in CNN's Command Center.

Joe showed us numerous offices including International Headquarters, the Command Center, and his own workspace, which he called “the heart of CNN.” We were given the opportunity to sit across from an anchor as she delivered her news report (live!), and to ask questions about Joe’s daily life at CNN. Between that, watching the process of a breaking news report, and posing with the majestic Lady Rainicorn (of the Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” series), I can’t decide what I most enjoyed!

“My favorite part of the trip was seeing the control room,” said Chandler Anderson ’13, web content developer at Pegasus. “The director analyzed the various camera shots to determine which one was the most effective, and relayed that information to his crew. It was incredible seeing all of this important behind-the-scenes work done before my eyes.”

“I was impressed at how fast it all is,” added Caitlyn Mitchell ’13, former magazine features writer for Pegasus. “You know that news is speed, and that the turnaround time has to be near instantaneous, but you don’t realize until you’re seeing it that there are stations across the United States…ready to leap at a moment’s notice. My favorite part of the trip was definitely sitting in the command chair in the “Command Center”—yes, they really called it that! I was doing my best…not [to] touch any of those incredibly tempting buttons.”

“Joe Sutton gave us a tour that was unlike any tour I’ve ever gotten,” added Rebecca Williams ’13, editor of the adult degree program’s newsletter The Nightcap and friend of Pegasus. “We were able to see important procedures—like filming the news—that we would otherwise never see. (Joe) is widely respected by everyone there. It’s undeniable that he will continue to do great and amazing things for CNN!”

This opportunity would not have been possible without Pegasus—and would not have been possible if I had not pursued an internship at Pegasus. It is not enough to be supplied with opportunities, but to take them as they come. Pegasus showed me an exciting career choice that I had not previously considered, and internships like Pegasus can make all the difference in paving the path to your future.

“Internships are essential to determining who you are as a person,” said Joe. “In media, there are plentiful internships in various departments. Be flexible, be savvy, be astute in global news, (and) be committed. Generally, I find that saying ‘yes’ is a good thing…it opens many doors of opportunities in the business.”

Attention Oglethorpe students! For me, Pegasus opened the door, and it can provide many opportunities for you as well. If I’ve persuaded you to join our team, or if another internship opportunity calls to you, contact Debbie Aiken in University Communications.  Opportunity is knocking, and you only have to answer!