Zanovia Criss sitting in control room producing NewsWatch

Alumni-Developed WOUB Job Connection Program lands student Zanovia Criss a job offer before graduation

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, OH – When WOUB News Student Zanovia Criss of Columbus came to the first WOUB Wednesday during the fall semester of 2021, she admits that she just came to eat the free pizza. But what she got out of the session was much more than she bargained for.

WOUB Wednesdays is a program that gives former WOUB students the opportunity to conduct a virtual conversation with current students and other alumni. The speaker talks about their career experiences and takes questions from those in attendance. The sessions are held every other Wednesday throughout the semester.

“I had never been to a WOUB Wednesday before. I didn’t know what it was about at all,” said Criss. “Retired International News Consultant Doug Drew was the speaker, and he was so cool. Everything he was saying about the job process was really helpful, and I had no clue about the process before that.  One of Doug’s friends, who was also a former WOUBer, was also on the Zoom call. Retired News Director Mike Rausch spoke a few times during WOUB Wednesday and told us he was coming to Athens in a couple of days. He encouraged us to come to the WOUB newsroom to meet him. So, a couple of days later, I came in to WOUB and met with Mike for about an hour. We talked about different ways to get a job as a news producer and how to market myself. Mike told me he had a few connections with media companies who were interested in a partnership with WOUB to recruit students into jobs. Within two days, Mike connected me with recruiters from the media company TEGNA.”

Criss graduates from Ohio University this May. And after a few conversations with TEGNA, she was offered a job as part of TEGNA’s Producer in Residence Program. Criss will start in June at WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina, a top 50 television market.

TEGNA’s Producer-in-Residence program is for graduating college seniors. It is designed to develop the next great broadcast and digital producers for TEGNA newsrooms across the country. The program includes a two-week producer boot camp and then a two-year, full-time producer position at a local station.

“It was great to have a contact to put me in touch with recruiters and get the process started. The connections Mike made for me changed my career path in a great way.”

Criss is also part of the WOUB Mentoring Program, which started in January 2021. The initiative pairs current students working at the station with former WOUB students who have already used the skills they learned while working at WOUB to launch successful careers. Where possible, the current students are paired with mentors who are already working in media positions the students were interested in pursuing. Criss’ mentor is CNN Content Producer Danielle Sills, who graduated from Ohio University in 2009.

“Mentoring Zanovia has been a pleasure because she seeks out advice and then acts on it. She continually put in hard work in the middle of a pandemic when it was anything but easy to set aside time to go into WOUB and hone her craft. I can see how much she has improved in the past year. I’m looking forward to following her career and achievements as she continues to grow as a journalist,” said Sills.

“I’ve loved getting to know Danielle because she provides me with personalized critiques and advice that have helped me grow as a journalist,” said Criss.

“It’s students like Zanovia that are going to ensure that we have trustworthy newscasts to watch for years to come,” said Sills. “I could not be prouder to see her succeed and find a great job before she even finishes her senior year.”

“I’m really excited about this job,” said Criss. “I couldn’t have done it without all the experiences I’ve had at WOUB.”

After seeing what happened with Criss, Rausch and Drew worked with WOUB to create the WOUB Job Connection Program. The program leverages the relationships of former WOUB students in the media industry to build partnerships between WOUB and media companies looking for graduating college students to fill journalism and media production positions at their stations across the country. As a result, recruiters from TEGNA and Gray Television are coming to campus this February to interview WOUB and Ohio University students for paid internships and full-time positions. TEGNA owns news stations in 51 markets, while Gray Television currently owns and/or operates television stations and digital properties in 94 television markets.

“We are thrilled to have former WOUB students like Mike and Doug help build a program that connects our current students with great jobs before they graduate,” said WOUB General Manager Mark Brewer. “And through WOUB Wednesdays and our WOUB Mentoring Program, both current students and alumni are building connections and strengthening the WOUB and Ohio University network in the media industry.”

Criss is now enjoying her last few months of school without the worry of the job search hanging over her head.

“I tried to never miss another WOUB Wednesday. Before I came to that first WOUB Wednesday, I didn’t understand the value of meeting with former WOUBers and hearing experiences of those who are out working in the industry. It helped my confidence to hear their stories and what they had to go through in their career to get to where they are today. I didn’t really understand the different ways that a job in media could manifest later in your life. Talking with alumni helped me understand what my life could be like later,” said Criss. “And after seeing what alumni have done for the current students at WOUB, I plan to do the same. I will pay it forward with future WOUB students, share my experience with them and help them in any way I can.”