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Alumni Profiles: Maira Garcia

By Sarah Vasquez

Maira GarciaMaira Garcia had a job in San Antonio after she received her master’s degree in new media at Texas State University – San Marcos in 2009. After she decided the job wasn’t for her, she found a part-time job in Austin. But she struggled.

“It was a tough year just financially and feeling like I had all my ducks in a row to have a job, be successful after graduate school and be able to pay my bills. It was totally not the case,” said Garcia.

Now Garcia is the social media editor for the Austin American-Statesman. She first started at the Statesman when Robert Quigley, the then-social media editor, gave her the heads up that the Statesman was hiring a web producer. They knew each other through Twitter. She applied and was hired.

“I just couldn’t believe it because after a year of not really finding anything in journalism and kind of giving my hopes up, it all turned around from there,” said Garcia.

On the Job

As web producer, Garcia also helped manage the Statesman’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. Since Quigley worked during the day, Garcia handled the accounts during her night shift. And she was good at it, Quigley said.

“Showing that she was that comfortable with it, she really knew what she was doing, we felt comfortable giving her responsibilities even early on before she was even social media editor. It was a pretty natural progression for her,” said Quigley.

Quigley left his position at the Statesman in August after he accepted a position as a senior lecturer with the University of Texas’ School of Journalism. Even though Garcia had experience working with the newspaper’s social media accounts, she said she was still nervous to apply for the position because she felt she hadn’t been there that long.

Quigley, however, thought it was an easy decision.

“She’s a natural,” said Quigley. “I’ve been really involved in social media for several years now, but I can tell that she was very comfortable in her element about social media.”

Transition from Texas State

Garcia was studying at Texas State University when social media debuted and contributed to the transition of journalism. Cindy Royal, associate professor for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication was one of Garcia’s professors while Garcia was an undergrad and graduate student.

“Once social media tools became more widespread, she was quick to comprehend their value professionally and in developing her own personal brand,” Royal said in an email.

Garcia said she felt the School of Mass Communication was quick to jump on the ball to help the journalism students transition to the new medium.

“Social media’s something that I’ve always been really excited about, and I had great professors at Texas State like Cindy Royal who really immersed us in that and really showed us the way,” said Garcia. “I was stoked when it happened and I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing. I get to put my hands in so many different areas with my job. It’s just a cool job, really a dream job.”

Alumni Profiles: Melinda Urbina

Melinda UrbinaMany grad students from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State move on to meaningful and diverse careers in the media, and an internship with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is no exception. SJMC grad alumna Melinda Urbina says that working for the NCI's Multicultural and International Communications branch in Rockville, MD promises to be filled with interesting and valuable learning experiences.

The branch Urbina works with is in charge of communications services and partnerships with foreign countries such as China, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. It is also in charge of the Spanish versions of NCI's website, cancer publication of The Bulletin, and YouTube channel. And, the office is currently planning a training workshop/conference for Latin American journalists called Cancer Research in the Media. This workshop is being held in November in Mexico.

"It's interesting learning about all of the acronyms the federal government uses, and I enjoy spending time with other interns from my intern class," said Urbina.

"There are a lot of opportunities for professional development and everyone is very helpful and welcoming. The office is excited about me being here and is already putting me to work," she added.

Internships are a big part of the job discovery process, and they often help students discover their passions in the industry. For more information on internships, check out the Internships page of the SJMC site, or discover job and internship opportunities on the Facebook group SJMC Internships / Careers.

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Alumni Interviews:

Alumna Maira Garcia graduated in 2008 from the graduate program and is now a web producer at the Austin American-Statesman. Her Core Conversation at SXSW Interactive this year was about landing a job using social media. Hear what she has to say about how the SJMC grad program prepared her for what she's doing now.

We caught up with 2008 SJMC grad school alumna Dee Kapila and 2008 grad student Michael Trice at their SXSW Interactive panel to hear what they had to say about the program.

Ten Year Anniversary:

In 2007, we had a 10-year anniversary for the graduate program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Here's the slideshow from the ceremony: