To help students better envision their future at the J-School, we have reached out to J-School alumni who have gone on to use their UM Journalism experience as a foundation for their careers.
The 2019 Montana Broadcaster of the Year, Maritsa Georgiou-Hamilton attended UM from 2003 – 2007 and shares a few tips:
UM Journalism School, 2003 – 2007
Areas of focus: communications, political science, radio and television broadcasting, print writing
What are you doing now and how did your journalism education prepare you?
I’m the evening anchor for NBC Montana. Journalism classes at UM were tough, but they really prepared me for life on the outside. I look back at what I thought was a heavy workload and laugh some days. In the TV news business, “normal days” are followed by days of 17 hour shifts with no food breaks standing in inclement weather or chasing a fugitive behind the cops. One of my biggest takeaways came, again, from Denise Dowling. She put a big emphasis on getting the work done without excuses. It’s no different in the newsroom. Our shows go on every night at 5, 6 and 10, regardless of what might have happened to your footage or how bad your cold is. This isn’t just great career guidance, it’s great life guidance.
How did a J-School education affect your career path?
I can’t say enough about the University of Montana School of Journalism. In addition to the hands-on work at school, I landed a job at the local NBC affiliate my junior year. That was only because Denise Dowling sent out a note encouraging my class to apply. That turned into my internship, which turned into my first full-time reporting job. I was in the right place at the right time for several promotions and was anchoring within my first year of working full-time. I have friends who went to journalism schools across the country, including Northwestern and Mizzou, who never even got a job in journalism. I really believe our small, but incredible and immersive program set me up for a lifetime of success in this field.
Beyond your journalism education, what were some of your favorite experiences in the community of Missoula?
Missoula is such a special place. It really is a community that cares and makes space for everyone. I love walking down University Ave. on a fall day, going to the Clark Fork River Market in the summer, hiking the M, floating the Clark Fork River, skiing in the winter. You won’t run out of breathtaking experiences here.
What tips do you have for incoming students at UM?
Stay active! Make sure you have balance in your life. It’s important to get the work done, but also take time to foster friendships. I can’t believe how many times I’ve used my college connections to network. Take a class that has nothing to do with your major, but just interests you.
What do you wish you knew when you first started at UM?
Biga Pizza is worth the extra money. Also, your life path will change because of your time here. Make the best of it!
What advice to you have for students considering pursuing a degree at the J-School?
Expect to work hard and long hours, but with people you’ll be connected to the rest of your life. If you want to work in journalism, I can’t recommend this school highly enough. I have been so blessed because of my time at UM and so many alums before me have helped in countless ways.
Since leaving the J-School, what do you miss the most?
I miss seeing the people every day on campus. I still care more about Denise Dowling’s opinion than my own mother’s… and that says a lot. My professors turned into friends. I’m so thankful for my relationships with all of them, and I’m still in touch with them on a fairly regular basis. If I’m ever on campus, I always stop by.
Any personal reflections you think J-School students might benefit from knowing about the J-School?
Your classmates will become your family.
You will be part of a web of successful talent that spans decades and experience levels, which is invaluable in this industry.