Alumni offer sage advice during careers in journalism panel

Five Elon alumni spoke with students and faculty on April 29 about their experiences in the journalism industry, from being hired during a pandemic to what helped the most during their time on campus.

Five School of Communications alumni spoke with students and faculty on April 29 at the Careers in Journalism Alumni panel about their experiences in journalism, reporting during a pandemic, and advice for the job and internship search. Panelists included Leigh Lesniak ’09, Randy Gyllenhaal ’10, Jackie Pascale ’18, Maria Jose Ramirez Uribe ’20 and Anton Delgado ’20.

A look at the attendees and panelists who participated in the Careers in Journalism Alumni panel on April 29.

As the spring semester comes to a close, many seniors are searching, applying for and accepting jobs. When Ramirez and Delgado were searching for jobs, they could have easily decided to not help one another. In a competitive job market, during a pandemic, job openings were few and far between. Instead, the pair decided to help one another, reading each other’s cover letters and trading job listings.

“We took it the other way around and helped each other with the skills that each of us had, and now we both have jobs,” Ramirez said. “There are skills that you have that no one else is going to have … and at the end of the day it’s about being good journalists.”

Ramirez, who works as a bilingual reporter at WFAE in Charlotte, and Delgado, who serves as an environmental reporter at the Arizona Republic, credit one another for keeping morale high during the application process last year.

“Of course, it’s a competitive field. Of course, there are thousands of folks just like you applying for the same things, but at Elon you have a support system,” Delgado said. “Having Maria have my back, especially during the pandemic when things got really complicated, made a world of difference.”

A digital flyer for the April 29 panel.

For many students, summer internships will still take place remotely, in a virtual setting. Pascale, an anchor/reporter at WXII in Winston-Salem, said whether students are applying to a virtual or in-person opportunity, her best advice is to not be afraid to “cold email” stations or outlets.

“I got a lot of my internships by like emailing a person several times if I didn’t hear back from them,” Pascale said. “Just try to put something out there and make that connection because then if they do have that job or they do have that internship, then they say, ‘Oh, I remember this person who was really great, who’s really nice and wanted to make that connection with me genuinely.’”

Applying for jobs and internships during a pandemic is a challenge, but for those in the workforce, reporting throughout the pandemic has been difficult as well. Gyllenhaal, a reporter at NBC10 in Philadelphia, watched colleagues leave the industry due to the toll of reporting during uncertain times. During a pandemic or not, Gyllenhaal stressed the importance of a support system not just while applying for jobs, but within the job, too.

“I knew going in what I was getting into, but after living through it, it really does take its toll,” Gyllenhaal said. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to others in the industry for help.”

Gyllenhaal reminded faculty and students, many of whom were student journalists, that journalists should be proud of the work from this past year. Despite the challenges, both Gyllenhaal and Lesniak, a consumer investigative producer at NBC10 who is married to Gyllenhaal, said they love working in journalism.

“It is such a rewarding and fulfilling career. I absolutely love it,” Lesniak said. “We’re doing an important job for the public.”


  • Leigh Lesniak ’09 – Consumer Investigative Producer at NBC10 in Philadelphia
  • Randy Gyllenhaal ’10 – Reporter at NBC10 in Philadelphia
  • Jackie Pascale ’18 – Anchor/Reporter at WXII in Winston-Salem
  • Anton Delgado ’20 – Environmental Reporter at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix
  • Maria Jose Ramirez Uribe ’20 – Bilingual Reporter at WFAE in Charlotte