Secrets of Success
Alum discusses career in television journalism
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan 21, 2020) — Today, Iyani Hughes (Communication ’15) works as a well-respected digital multi-media journalist and reporter with CBS46/WGCL-TV, keeping television viewers in metro Atlanta and North Georgia better informed. But successful careers in major-market TV news don’t often happen overnight, and Hughes’ experience is testament to that.
As an honors graduate from Kennesaw State University, Hughes was an active member of the Kennesaw Activities Board and the Sigma Epsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She had made dozens of good career contacts but landing her dream job took almost two years.
“After graduating from KSU with a bachelor’s in communication and a concentration in media studies, I was rejected about 50 times after job interviews,” the 27-year-old said. “I did not land my first career job until I was nearly two years out of school, and that was hard for me.”
Hughes will share her story and provide advice for students and alumni at the 3rd Annual Owl Professional Development Conference on Jan. 25.
Aiming for a career in broadcasting, Hughes found her niche at WTVY, where she began working as a general reporter/multimedia journalist in southeast Alabama.
“Hearing ‘No’ time and time again can be draining on your physical and mental health, especially when you see your peers elevating and getting their starts before you. But throughout that two-year period, every ‘No’ fueled my fire,” she said. “I took it as a learning lesson, reflected and made sure to make adjustments for the next one. In the end, I knew all I needed to start my career was one ‘Yes’. So, I was determined to work on myself and make adjustments in order to get that.”
It helped that Hughes, a four-year scholarship student-athlete on the KSU Soccer team, is very competitive by nature.
“My entire life, I grew up playing sports,” said Hughes. “Since the age of four, I was always on a team. Between basketball, track and soccer, I knew I would be a college athlete at some point.”
Competing and doing her best were among the strong values stressed by her family.
“Both of my parents played sports and came from a military family so everything I did was wrapped around the mindset of ‘There is no I in team.’ To this day, that has stuck with me in relationships, friendships and work environments. It takes a team spirit to maneuver through anything in life successfully.”
By the time Hughes left CBS-affiliate WTVY last April, she had worked for a year and a half as a reporter and weekend anchor.
“I knew what I wanted to do with my life, ironically after I started my first job as a reporter in Dothan, Ala.,” Hughes said. “Once I began telling stories of that small-town community and seeing the impact good storytelling could have on someone or something, I knew that was my purpose. From there, I set goals to both continue impacting the community and enhance my skills at the same time.”
After a year and half at the CBS affiliate in Dothan, Hughes rejoined Atlanta’s CBS46 news team, where she had worked as a digital news content producer trainee a little more than two years ago.
Now working at CBS46/WGCL-TV in the country’s highly competitive No. 10 TV market, Hughes drives herself hard to find compelling stories for her viewers.
“On a typical workday, I pitch news story ideas in our morning editorial meeting then go with a photographer to shoot the story and conduct necessary interviews,” said Hughes. “I then write, edit and put the story together, and typically do a live presentation during our scheduled newscasts.
Looking back, Hughes said all those early job rejections helped to propel her forward.
With her professional news career fully underway, Hughes has time to feed her entrepreneurial spirit as the co-owner, along with her younger sister, of 22Lifestyle, LLC. The Cobb County-based company offers a choice of 22 custom-blended natural, essential oils that customers can mix and match, based on their individual skin or hair care needs.
The successful media personality and business owner credits KSU for helping her create part of the foundation for the rest of her life.
“College is the time where you spread your wings from a young adult to adulthood,” Hughes said.
Hughes said she is excited to return to the Kennesaw Campus to deliver the keynote address at Kennesaw State’s 3rd Annual Owl Professional Development Conference.
Hughes plans to offer solid advice for job seekers at the event, based on her own recent experience.
“The news world is a bit different than corporate America, but when looking for any jobs, I would constantly check professional websites like LinkedIn Jobs, Nuevoo and Facebook groups,” Hughes said. “Sometimes, depending on the job, I would also use social media to my advantage by posting that I was actively searching and available for interviews. Networking is key when looking for a job. The more people you know and keep in touch with, the better your chances.”
As a reporter, Hughes knows how to work her sources for information. She said a similar strategy can help a job seeker find open positions.
“The best way to network is to take advantage of your resources, like social media, events with friends, classes in school, professors, people you meet around campus and family members,” said Hughes. “Consistently reach out to them via email and remember to keep in touch. Depending on the person, sometimes it is also valuable to have in-person meet-ups and conversations, as well. Regardless of the means of conversation, be sure to be consistent and always follow up.”
Kennesaw State’s 3rd Annual Owl Professional Development Conference will be held Jan. 25 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. in Prillaman Hall on the Kennesaw Campus.
For more information and to register, click here.
– Robert Godlewski
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.