The Elon alumna served as the guest speaker at a recent meeting of Elon University’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, discussing her time at Elon, her first job and how she is maintaining her mental health while reporting.
Maya Eaglin ’19 saw herself as a producer, someone behind the scenes rather than in front of the camera. Now, a little more than a year since graduating from Elon University with a degree in journalism, Eaglin is in front of the camera – her phone camera, that is. The alumna works at NBC as a digital reporter for the network’s Snapchat news initiative, Stay Tuned.
Eaglin spoke to students at her alma mater on Aug. 27, joining the Society of Professional Journalists’ virtual meeting. The Elon chapter of SPJ plans to virtually host alumni throughout the semester to allow students to make connections, ask questions and see what awaits them after graduation. Eaglin shared stories about her experiences at Elon University, the roles she has taken on since graduating, and how she is caring for her mental health while reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay Tuned, one of NBC’s most popular digital brands, has four segments a day with longer pieces on the weekend. In her role, Eaglin said she pitches stories, records interviews, writes the script and manages editing. Eaglin’s day-to-day workload and schedule are different than that of traditional network TV, as she has anywhere from three days to three weeks to complete a story, depending on the topic.
Before she landed her current role, Eaglin completed an internship with NPR, and then became a news associate at NBC. When she decided to intern after her Elon graduation, Eaglin told SPJ members that she didn’t realize it was such a popular choice.
“If you’re a senior and you have a few internships under your belt, you’ve taken all these courses, you have your capstone ready, you’re going to be in the top tier of their candidates for typical internships,” Eaglin said. “Those can often lead into jobs and positions, particularly when the summer is over and they have an opening.”
With student and professional reporters alike continuing to report on the pandemic, physical distancing and masks are often on the forefront of a reporter’s mind. But SPJ wanted to have a conversation about mental health, too, and how reporters are maintaining their well-being while reporting on the pandemic and racial justice.
Since graduating, Eaglin said her overall well-being has improved, which is something she was not expecting going into the news industry. As a student, Eaglin found herself pulled in a lot of directions – Elon News Network, classwork and her on-campus job. Now, she said, she finds that because her job – and her homework – is all journalism, there is a lot less juggling.
“I felt like I have a little more autonomy, with the control and pace and scheduling of my life outside of work which I didn’t necessarily feel as a student because there’s just so much to juggle,” Eaglin said.
When it comes to mental health, Eaglin said while it might feel uncomfortable, being upfront with your time commitment and ability is key. Whether it is a deadline or feeling unsure of how to manage a story, reporters should not “suffer in silence,” she explained.
“Whoever you’re working with … make sure that they’re very aware of your mental state and the capacity you have to give to your work,” Eaglin said. “Not only will it strengthen your relationships, but when that falters or changes, everyone will have an understanding of what the need is or that you need to rest or take a break. I think that can only help you.”
Journalism Lecturer Kelly Furnas, the Elon SPJ chapter’s adviser, said hearing from speakers like Eaglin, who are not far removed from being students themselves, is valuable for students today. He also commended Eaglin for illustrating the many different paths one can take in a career in news.
“To me, that’s the No. 1 goal,” Furnas said of the alumni-student meetings. “It’s to provide students the toolkits that they need to start to think about their life as a professional.”
SPJ will host its second virtual event on Thursday, Sept. 10, and details can be found on the organization’s PhoenixConnect page.