Mara Montalbano '04CPS

How do you begin a career in the exciting field of television journalism? Just ask Mara Montalbano ‘04CPS. This College of Professional Studies alumna was among the first reporters/anchors hired for the NY1 segment “Staten Island News Now.” As a Staten Island news reporter, Mara is the person responsible for breaking hundreds of news stories to Staten Island residents about topics ranging from politics to the arts. Mara says her education from St. John’s prepared her for this role, “I learned from my professors at St. John’s, who worked in the industry, how the business of television works and what trends to look for in programming.”

As a graduate of the mass communication  program at St. John’s Staten Island campus, Mara believes she benefited greatly from the relationships she established with her professors: “The small class sizes allowed me to have more time to talk to teachers and department heads about the classes I should take. Since many of them worked in the industry, I was able to get first-hand knowledge of what to expect from potential jobs and the job market.”

Mara also credits St. John’s for helping her attain the internship that paved the way to her successful career: “St. John’s helped me get an internship with a Time Warner Cable news station, which gave me experience in an actual newsroom. That experience led to a freelance news reporter position while I was still in college and, ultimately, my first job out of college as a reporter for a start-up local unit with a major communications company.” Mara had always planned to work in television, but originally hoped to become a television talk show host. After interning for the Ricki Lake show, she had a sudden change of plans: “I was hoping to get into talk shows, but half-way through the internship I realized this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I had to figure out a new course of action and ended up trying an internship in news – and liking it very much.”

One of the most important lessons Mara took away with her from St. John’s is to live out the Vincentian mission of the University: “Part of my job is to hold people accountable for their actions. Whether it is an irresponsible landlord, the city, a drunk driver or anyone who ignores the well-being of someone else, it is part of my job to expose that. It doesn’t always change the situation, but it can help a food pantry get some extra donations, or get people to really think about their actions and how it might affect others.” Mara continues to live out the Vincentian mission by helping those in need by volunteering and participating in graffiti cleanups throughout Staten Island.

“My advice to students who are looking to pursue a career right after college is to intern. It’s the only way to ‘try a career on for size.’ It gets your foot in the door, gives you a first-hand look at what the company/industry is all about and it comes in handy when you need recommendations. You will be one of the first people a company looks at when trying to fill entry level positions.”