Muna Moushien ’14 is an alum with an incredible story. From discovering her true career interests to finding that one person who was willing to take a chance on her, her story is one that lays out a perfect path for recent graduates finding their way to the newsroom and eventually discovering what may be their true calling in the workplace.
Muna is currently starting her role as the Supervisor of Staff Development at CBS This Morning after working in Staff Development and Diversity and News Standards and Practices at CBS News for three years.
I recently had the chance to speak with Muna about her time at Emerson College as she walked me through her path from being a super involved student on campus to an accomplished professional working at her dream organization.
What originally drew you to Emerson College?
“The journalism program. I knew that when I graduated from high school in New York City I wanted to go into journalism – there was no doubt in my mind actually. I did some research on the top journalism schools close to New York and it eventually came down to a decision between Syracuse and Emerson… What really informed my decision was the feedback I was getting from journalism students enrolled at Emerson at the time. What I heard was that you’d be able to jump right in from the minute you start your experience at Emerson and that you’d have access to so many opportunities and resources right from the get-go. That didn’t seem to be the case at many of the other schools I was looking at.”
Were you involved with any journalism organizations on campus in your time at Emerson?
“All of them. I was involved with EIV, WERS, WECB, and WEBN – I was actually able to attend the Oscars and Emmys with them as a red carpet reporter! I also worked with the Emerson Channel and I was very involved with EBONI and Speak Up during my time in school… I also pledged Kappa Gamma Chi in the Spring of 2013!”
Is there one memory from college that sticks with you today?
“Absolutely – it happened at Kasteel Well during my Junior Year.
Typically people apply their Freshman year and go to the castle during their Sophomore year but I applied a little later in the game at the end of my Sophomore year. I was wait-listed and one of the last slots was given to me. I was ecstatic to finally be able to study and travel outside of the United States but I knew this was going to be bit difficult for me because, during my freshman and sophomore years, I had built a circle of friends who I was always hanging out with and when I applied to the castle I knew I’d be forced out of my comfort zone when it came to building new relationships… But it was such a good move for me. I met so many people who I never thought I would have so many things in common with. I made friends and connections that I’m still in touch with. I found myself wanting to be open-minded about new people, new classes, new experiences—just about everything.
Once I returned to the Boston campus I wanted to get involved with everything because of my experience abroad. I was so eager to meet more people and really step further out of my comfort zone to become a bigger part of Emerson’s community.”
What were your first steps after graduation?
“The last couple of months of my senior year at Emerson I was exposed to more of the production side of news working behind the scenes in the producer role. It was something I hadn’t really experienced or thought a lot about because all throughout my Emerson career I thought I wanted to be a reporter, and in front of the camera – which was a whole different ball game and would take a while to achieve at the level I desired. I also knew that, to be a reporter, I’d have to put a video reel together and start applying to a lot of different locations with the idea that I’d be ready to drop everything and move just about anywhere to start my journalism career. I came to terms with this idea that if reporting is what I really wanted to do, I needed to be ready to move wherever the first opportunity was before moving into a bigger market like New York City.
That was a point of hesitation for me. I wanted to start working at the network level fresh out of college. I knew I loved journalism but I also loved New York City. Location was huge for me and I wanted to get back to the city of bright lights as soon as I graduated because that’s where the best news organizations are. So I was definitely on the fence about pursuing an on-camera career.
During my senior year – I’m not sure if this is still required – I was required to take a broadcasting practicum course where a team of students were tasked with putting together a 30 minute news program as our final project. We got to call all of the shots. We were the producer, the digital journalist, the writer, and were tasked with finding our own anchors and reporters to work with. It was this assignment that really exposed me to being behind the camera and to learning just how much I enjoyed seeing journalism from that perspective. Shout out to my professor Marsha Della Giustina for equipping me with the skills I use to this very day in the newsroom.
A lot of people were also telling me that starting in New York City as a producer is more likely for a recent grad versus starting out as a reporter.”
Muna started creating reels that showcased both her reporting and producing abilities and began to send them around to many news organizations in the New York area. She also reached out to multiple employees at each organization to arrange a series of informational interviews that would help give her a better idea of each workplace and what it would take to land a job there including advisors at Hudson Guild, a multi-service community agency serving those who live, work, or go to school in Chelsea, with a focus on those in need. “All of the advisors at Hudson Guild would sit with me for hours looking over my resume.”
Her efforts eventually connected her with Crystal Johns, the Director of Talent Development and Diversity with CBS News at the time, which helped kickstart a series of interviews in which Muna had her resume and reel reviewed (something she describes as a much-needed “ego check” that helped put her mind in the right place) as well as connecting her with several contacts at CBS. After my first interview with Crystal in the CBS Broadcast Center I knew in my gut that CBS was the right place for me. I couldn’t imagine myself starting out anywhere else.
“Eventually I got a call from Crystal where she told me she had some great news. She told me that an assistant position had just become available in her unit and that they were looking to hire someone immediately. She asked if I was able to start as early as the next day… I was overwhelmed with excitement- it was one of the best phone calls I have ever received.”
Muna and I spoke more about her love of CBS and its culture of factual and accurate reporting in a media landscape that’s marked by news organizations trying to capitalize on being first over correct. She believes CBS is an organization that’s passionate about the spirit of journalism while fostering a community that is unlike any other place in New York.
Wrapping up our conversation, I asked what sort of opportunities CBS offers current students and recent grads…
“CBS News has an internship program in NY and DC that is run by my colleague Katie Curcio. Internships are offered year round—fall and spring have 45 positions and the summer program has 65 spots.
CBS also has employment opportunities for students who have graduated and are looking to get their foot in the door at the network level. The CBS News Associates Program is a highly competitive program designed to identify outstanding aspiring journalists who can bring fresh and diverse insight to the areas of news production and news coverage. Associates rotate among a variety of television broadcasts and departments including The CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, CBS Newspath and the National Desk. The first placement is determined based on availability; the other two rotations, although not guaranteed, are based on the associates’ preferences.
The News Associate program is for individuals interested in producing and is extremely competitive. It’s unique because it allows people to experience a variety of roles on many shows and has an extraordinary hiring rate of those who become full-time after completing the program.
The Page Program is another employment opportunity offered at CBS run by Carol Christman and Cheyenne Brit and it’s similar to the Associate Program in the sense that it’s also rotational and for recent graduates. Pages work in entertainment, sports, late-night television, distribution, PR, finance, news, programming and more.