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‘Never take any interaction for granted’: How this graduating journalism student landed the job she wanted

“Get to know your professors” is advice given often to incoming and current college students. It’s important to establish connections early, before it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation or apply to jobs or internships. Professors also provide a wealth of knowledge and experience, and asking for help can sometimes mean the difference between a good grade and a bad one.  

In Maddie Harden’s case, it meant landing a full-time job before graduation.  

A senior journalism major, Harden’s request for a professor’s help on a difficult assignment led to a promising new career in Cleveland.  Having always dreamed of working in Cleveland, she has spent much of her time at OHIO building a strong resume and gaining experience in the journalism field.  

“In my years at OU, I worked for the New Political as a writer, staff writer, news editor, and then editor-in-chief last year,” Harden says. “Now I just write occasionally, and I do some work for WOUB too.”  

She first became involved with journalism in high school when a teacher encouraged her to join the school newspaper. Writing for the newspaper increased her interest in the field and she soon branched out to other disciplines within the industry.  

“My background is more like print and digital, so broadcast was not super on my radar,” Harden says. “I had done a shadowing in high school where I shadowed Channel 3 in Cleveland WKYC for a couple of days and that kind of got me more interested in the journalism industry as a whole.”  

Last year, Harden found herself writing a particularly difficult story for a class and reached out to her professor, Victoria LaPoe, for help. She didn’t expect what came next.  

“I needed to handle the story with a lot of care,” Harden says. “So I went to my professor [and said] hey, what's your take on this? What do you think I should be doing? And she was like, well, I have a couple [names] you can reach out to. Here's this person's name.”  

LaPoe, an associate professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, put Harden in contact with Dan DeRoos, a member of Cleveland 19’s data journalism team. Soon, Harden found herself texting with the reporter, then calling him to discuss the story she was working on. DeRoos helped her map out the story and gave her advice on how to approach the topic. 

Meanwhile, Harden was applying to internships for the summer. 

“He gives me some advice and then, right in the last five seconds of that call, I'm like, oh, by the way, I applied for an internship there. Just letting you know. OK, bye,” Harden says. 

Harden didn’t expect much from the interaction. She wasn’t having much luck with the other internship applications, but soon after the call with DeRoos, Channel 19 contacted her to schedule an interview. 

Much to her excitement, they offered her the position. 

“I [spent] my summer there doing work with their digital team on the assignment desk, working with producers on the morning and evening shows, and then doing a little bit of investigative work [and] tracking homicides from the summer,” Harden says. “I had the greatest time ever there. I was so excited.” 

After a summer in her dream city interning at her dream job, Harden returned to OHIO for the final year of her undergraduate degree. When she applied to an opening at Channel 19 that she found on LinkedIn, the connections she made over the summer helped her secure a full-time job that she will begin upon graduation. 

Harden says that everything the journalism school has taught her will be helpful when she finds herself in the “real world.” 

“I’m such an advocate for J-School minors or majors because I love the program so much,” Harden says. 

She advises her fellow students to seize every networking opportunity they find. 

“Not every interaction can lead to something so much bigger,” she says. “[But] I'd never take any interaction for granted, you know. Write down everyone's phone numbers or text everyone back and connect on LinkedIn, because you never really never know what it could lead to.”

March 28, 2024
Acadia Hansen, '26