Secret Success Stories: Landon Dowdy: NBC Universal

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Secret Success Stories: Landon Dowdy: NBC Universal blog image

Secret Success Stories: Landon Dowdy: NBC Universal

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking to Landon Dowdy, a reporter at CNBC in New York who first got her job as a recent grad! As soon as I heard her story I knew our readers would immediately be drawn and inspired to go out there and get their dreams jobs. For her, it all started with an internship. Keep reading to find out how she went from intern to reporter right after graduation. 

Questions

Can you tell us about the process of going from intern to reporter how did that happen?

Answers

I got an internship with CNBC the summer between junior and senior year in college. I had applied to every single internship possible. After my phone interview with CNBC, I actually made the trip from my college in North Carolina to NYC and told my interviewers that I’d love to stop by in-person. Later I found out I got the internship, and I spent that summer living in NYC and commuting into the CNBC offices in Englewood, NJ. It was very eye opening; being in the studio and in the field and really seeing how it’s all made is completely different than anything you can possibly learn about in a class. While I was an intern, I made sure to take advantage of every opportunity possible. Each day, I got in to work early and stayed late. I think being an intern is the greatest gift; it’s an excuse to ask as many questions as possible. I reached out to all departments and met with everyone I possibly could meet with. I wanted to learn everything I could those three months so I would ask to either simply pick their brain over coffee or shadow them on an assignment. I learned so much doing that.

Before my internship ended, I set up meetings with all of my managers and got all of the feedback I could. I told all of them what I wanted to do after graduation and asked what I should do senior year to get there. Those meetings were super helpful.

My senior year, I buckled down and literally worked so hard on getting my reel together and placing stories. I wanted to graduate and say I have something to show for my time in school. Throughout my senior year, I made sure to periodically follow up with the contacts I made during my time at CNBC. I would provide updates on really big projects I had done and would ask for feedback on what I was doing. Not every single time, but every couple of months.

Come January before graduation (I graduated in May), I started really getting jitters. I began applying for anything and everything. I knew preparation would meet opportunity. I also knew I needed interview practice. I just kept going through the process and taking as many opportunities for interviews as possible. Even if it’s not what you want it makes you more confident for the interview that you do want.

I really did apply for everything. I think the biggest advice when you are in school if you know the field you want to be in is to pick specifics that interest you. It gives you the extra edge that will make you stand out. It gives you other things that you can offer. If you know the field you want to be in while you’re in school, the best advice is to find a specialty in that field. for me in journalism, it was focusing on business news. Having a focus gives you the extra edge and ability to stand out in the interview process. It says "Yes, I want to be a journalist like everyone else you’ve interviewed, but here's what else I can bring to the table and this is why you should choose me?

The other biggest thing is don’t be afraid to take a job that isn’t spelled out “ABCD”. I took a job where I didn’t know exactly what I was going to be doing on the day-to-day. Remember nothing is forever- good or bad. Don’t be afraid to take something that is not the normal path. At the end of the day it just becomes about the work and doing good work and turning it into the path that you want. Find opportunities as they arise.

Questions

What advice do you have for following up with your contacts??

Answers

Hand written thank you notes go a long way. I’m really big on thank you notes. I feel like even now I always write handwritten thank you notes to everyone. Also, whenever you follow up, keep it short and concise. You don’t want to write up a novel. Also, be positive. Always be grateful, appreciative and compliment the person. But never apologize for taking their time. There’s no need to apologize. Just be friendly about the ask :)

Questions

Rejection- what is your advice on this?

Answers

First off, if you’re emailing someone and asking to chat on the phone or meet up for coffee, if they don’t respond it doesn’t mean they won’t do it. I would suggest to follow up in a week. Be persistent. It doesn’t hurt to follow up once (or even twice… although I wouldn’t recommend following up three times with no response.)

For rejection in general, at the end of the day, you don’t know what’s behind it. It’s not personal. You don’t know how they felt that day or what was going on behind the scenes. All you can do is keep pushing ahead. After interviews, I would always think about the questions I was not prepared for and I would ask myself how can I better prepare next time. Take a step back and ask how you can make it better next time. Keep going. Preparation does meet opportunity.

Questions

In your opinion, what is the difference between being an intern and being an actual employee and having a professional job?

Answers

There’s nothing different as far as the work ethic. I always try to have the hunger of “I need this job.” You always want to continue to grow and better yourself. When you’re an intern maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to do.

The internship is the time to just play and learn everything you can and what it is that you really like. You have the opportunity and freedom as an intern to learn.

In your job you know what you want to do. You grow up a little more and know what you are doing.

Questions

What would you say is the best thing you learned at your internships that is helping you in your new role?

Answers

Don’t be your own worst enemy. You could really hold yourself back because you are afraid. There’s no reason why you can’t do something, whether you are trying to get the job or at the internship or at your job don’t let that stop you. I think that is something I still work on to this day. I’m a perfectionist and I hate when I’m not 100% but that’s how you grow. You can’t beat yourself up.

Questions

Any advice for recent grads like you who are looking for a job but having trouble any tips and tricks?

Answers
  1. Think of ways to make yourself stand out. Personalize your cover letter. Really think about how your skills fit into that company and the role you want.
  2. Continue to be persistent. You don’t have to be annoying but be persistent. The person you emailed might not have seen it or you might have caught them on a very busy day.
  3. Find alumni that are in your network who are working in roles you’re interested in. People underestimate the familiarity of your college years and that bond of working in the same industry.
  4. Apply for anything and everything. Apply as early and as often as possible.
  5. That said, do take some time before you start your new job and after you graduate if you can. There’s this time between “I just finished my college years” and starting your new job. Take a break to go travel if you can – just take some time for you before you start your real life job. You need to be ready to buckle down and hit the ground running. I think there is a difference between people who take time. I took a month. You just need a break and then you’ve got to be ready to work hard.
Questions

Finally, before we close out this interview we have one last question. Can you describe a typical day-in-the-life as a new post grad working in the real world?

Answers

 

 

2:00am: Alarm clock goes off and I snooze it multiple times and THEN I’m out of bed.

 

3:00am: Get to work. This is when I start reading the latest news (business, as well as everything else that is going on because ultimately business is impacted by so many elements you might not think about ... from elections abroad to hurricanes in the U.S..) That includes both our news at CNBC and other publications. I also figure out what story/stories I’m doing that day. It’s crunch time, so I’m scrambling to do as much as possible before I go on-air.

 

3:45am: Start getting hair and makeup and still reading in during the process. For these early mornings, I keep concealer in business :)

 

4:45am: I start filming at this time... The bright lights turn on and we're live!

 

5:00am: I’m on CNBC’s 5am show every day (CNBC’s "Worldwide Exchange” M-F @ 5-6am EST)

 

4:45am-9:15am: I also film for CNBC’s NBC affiliates in cities all over the country, from Texas and California to Golf Channel and The Today Show. For four and a half hours straight, I have a hit every 5 to 15 minutes in cities around the US.

 

8:15-9am: (I DO THIS IN BETWEEN HITS) All of our reporters and producers gather with the VP of News for our daily morning editorial meeting. We finalize (or… at least as final as possible when you’re dealing with news!) all of the hits, interviews and segments for the day. We also use this time to brainstorm and talk about different ways we want to do things and what we want to focus on. This is when I can start seeing what shows I’m going to be on for the day.

 

9:00am - TBD: My day is super unpredictable as I might be on-air until 12pm or I might be on-air until 6pm. And, if I’m not filming, I’m working behind-the-scenes on my next story, locking in a script or meeting a source to learn more about what’s happening in the industry. So essentially, my day could end at any time between noon to 6pm, depending on the day and the news cycle. I try to take a nap for an hour or two at some point. Then, I sleep about 3-4 hours a night and get back to it.