CMCI alumnae Savannah Sellers (JOUR 2013) is just six years out of school, but already she commands a coveted spot as a “Today” show contributor and host of “Stay Tuned” on Snapchat for NBCUniversal. She visited her alma mater and offered words of advice to current Journalism students at CU Boulder’s College of Media, Communication and Information, just ahead of her commencement speech.
LAY THE GROUNDWORK FOR EARLY CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
Sellers did two internships at the NBC affiliate in San Diego and studied abroad in Italy during her time here at CU Boulder. She then worked as an NBC Page, before becoming assistant to correspondents Harry Smith and Kate Snow. Being that so many pages want to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, while Sellers knew she wanted to be in news, “It seemed like a great thing to do – to be able to learn from two people already doing what I wanted to do.” She calls Smith the “one of the best writers in TV news, period.” Learning from the best helped her grow as a reporter and writer. “I understood what they needed and they trusted me to help them do that,” she says.
YOUR PATH TO SUCCESS MIGHT NOT BE DIRECT (OR THE ONE YOU EXPECTED TO TAKE)
When the opportunity to become an executive assistant at NBCUniversal presented itself, Sellers took it – even though it meant she was not on-camera (and was, in fact, answering phones a lot of the time). “I was scheduling meetings, answering the phones, and honestly, there were days when I wanted to throw that phone out the window,” she jokes. “It was not always super-fun at the beginning, but it was all in pursuit of my dreams.” Just putting herself in that environment, networking with media professionals, helped lead her to where she is now, and she has no regrets. (She also admits to putting in long hours – working 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. sometimes – so she could work on her broadcast projects on the side – never letting go of her dream).
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Sellers didn’t cut her teeth in small-market TV – she started in New York, which is unusual. Her path is unconventional, and aside from her traditional broadcast segments on “Today,” so is her content platform. As the GenZ voice of news on “Stay Tuned,” which aims to position NBC as a brand today’s teens will hold onto as they grow up, she says it’s incredibly gratifying to help young people appreciate current events. “Teachers will message me and say, ‘Wow! My whole class knew about what was happening in Myanmar, and she I asked them how, they said it’s because of you!’ That’s incredible. I love helping to redefine what young people care about.” While many adults complain their teens are glued to their phones, Sellers says she’s trying to put something of value ON that phone. “Our show is this little window into really passionate, engaged kids.”
This young journalist is going places. We’ll just have to stay tuned…