Category: GEMA Externship

Title:GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?  Faith Woodard (C’17)

GEMA launched its annual Externship Program in 2003, a unique experience where Georgetown seniors and graduate students spend one week in Los Angeles or New York during spring break meeting with a number of alumni from a variety of fields in entertainment and media. Over 200 students and more than 500 alumni have participated in the program over its first 21 years and many of the externs have gone on to roles across the media landscape. In our series The GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?, we reconnect with past Externs to find out how their careers have progressed since graduation.

Faith Woodard (C ’17) is currently an Evening News Anchor in Little Rock, AR for a local CBS station. She anchors the 5, 6 and 10PM primetime broadcasts on weeknights.

What was your first “big break” in your industry? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

As a former Georgetown Women’s Basketball player, I was covered by many sports networks throughout the basketball season. Many networks became familiar with me and quickly learned of my interest in broadcast journalism. The Big East was very influential in helping me get my initial start working in television. They hired me while I was still in graduate school to cover Big East games because of the Big East’s relationship with Georgetown. From there, other outlets began requesting my on-air presence like SportsNet New York and the Ivy League Network. The Big East was definitely my “Big Break.”

What was your first job?

My first job was a complete 360 from the sports world. Although sports was a natural transition for me from playing basketball, I quickly learned news was my real passion. I left sports behind and moved to a small town in Maryland called Salisbury. I worked as a reporter where I shot, wrote, and edited my own stories. My salary made it very hard to get by. I didn’t know anyone in this city or state for that matter, and it wasn’t as glamorous as sports. However, I learned a lot and I believed in myself. With a lot of hard work, I eventually climbed the ranks and moved to larger cities doing what I truly loved.

What do you do in your job now? What is your favorite part of your current position?

Currently I’m an Evening News Anchor in Little Rock, Arkansas for a local CBS station. It’s not as rigorous and demanding as being a reporter. These days, I’m overseeing work and staying in the studio, rather than going out and reporting in the field. Monday through Friday I anchor our nightly broadcasts at 5, 6, and 10PM. I get the chance to do in-depth reporting every couple of months, which I love, rather than the daily grind. My favorite part of my job is meeting our dedicated viewers in person. It’s so gratifying to be able to meet the people who tune in every night at events, at local shops, and around town. Telling their stories and helping them when they need their voices heard is also a plus. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my viewers. Oh, and driving past my billboards in town is also a cool perk.

What was the externship experience like for you? Did it have an influence on your career/help kickstart your career?

My externship experience was awesome. When I was a Senior, I had just been accepted to the externship program, and I had also been accepted to graduate school for journalism. The externship program required a week in New York, but the externship was also going to coincide with my official visit to my graduate school. I wasn’t sure I had the time or finances to do both. I told the externship team I unfortunately wasn’t going to make it. Rich Battista called me personally and reminded me of all the benefits of the externship and insisted I go. I decided to go and it was one of the best decisions for my career. Sitting down with like-minded creatives and people already working in my industry was eye opening. Learning from Rich, who took the time out of his schedule to mentor the externs and was also working as the CEO of Time, Inc., was something I’ll never forget.

What part(s) of the Externship did you find most valuable?

Meeting so many Georgetown graduates who were working in different fields within media was truly invaluable. The access to these Georgetown graduates who now knew me personally was also extremely beneficial. I left feeling inspired from each conversation, and I took away many things that still influence my career to this day. I still have access to all of the emails and business cards I collected back then and shoot emails off as needed.

What was your experience like attending Georgetown? Were there any particularly formative experiences that were special to you?

I had a great experience at Georgetown. Being a student athlete taught me invaluable skills like multitasking, perseverance, and hard work. However, my professors had a profound influence on the person and professional I am today. These professors challenged me to think critically, and to challenge the status quo. Whether it be literature, or group discussions, it increased my social awareness and understanding of the world. These critical thinking skills were key in shaping me into the journalist I am today. I frequently use these critical thinking skills when asking officials and politicians tough questions.

What’s your advice for an undergraduate trying to break into your industry? Is there anything you would tell your younger self now?

Make yourself unforgettable and stand out. There are so many people trying to climb the ranks just like you. But what makes you different? What sets you apart? How are you going to make a potential employer, colleague or Georgetown Alum remember you? Stand out. I’ve learned that if you can set yourself apart with engaging conversation, asking great follow-up questions, and knowing personal information about an employer, these things matter. Remember, it’s not always what’s on paper, but how you make people feel when they meet you. Another piece of advice is to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day; your career won’t be either. Small wins turn into big wins. Be patient, stay the course, and put in the work.

Name someone in your career who has been a valuable mentor or role model to you and why?

Soledad O’Brien, a former CNN Anchor and current Anchor with Hearst has always been a great mentor. She’s why I became a journalist. I was in 7th grade when I watched her on television reporting on Hurricane Katrina. Instantly, I knew I wanted to do the same. When I got to college I read her autobiography and followed up with an email. She responded and offered me my first internship in news. We’ve remained in touch and she offers great advice whenever I need it. Even when we don’t talk, she’s been the person who I’ve tried to model my career after.

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