Christendom College

Alumni Journalists Report On Their Success

February 5, 2015

charlie_spieringChristendom’s “Life on Tap” networking series returned Tuesday night, featuring successful Christendom alumni in the field of journalism.  About fifty students, as well as faculty and staff were present to hear how Peter Jesserer Smith (‘09) and Charlie Spiering (’05 ) have succeeded in their field, thanks, in part, to their liberal arts education.

Peter Jesserer Smith is currently a staff reporter for the National Catholic Register. He has been a journalist since 2006, notably co-founding both the Christendom student publication, The Rambler, and the Chester-Belloc Debate society here on campus.

Smith began his Christendom education in 2004 and was attracted by the fact that it “advertised excellence, and wanted to restore all things in Christ.”  Smith’s father, a Princeton graduate, was impressed with his education, calling it “far superior” to his own.

He elaborated on the ways Christendom helped him in journalism, explaining that one of his philosophy classes with professor Steve Snyder taught him that every person has a unique and valuable perspective – even people who are mistaken aren’t completely wrong all the time.

His experiences with both The Rambler and the Chester-Belloc debate society made him realize that Christendom alumni have the ability to view things from a variety of perspectives – a skill that would allow them to excel in journalism, where their goal would be to present the fullest picture to the reader by interviewing a wide variety of people. Smith then took the time to give his listeners some practical advice for fulfilling the vocation God has chosen for each of them, especially stressing the importance of networking.

“Nowadays, thirty percent of jobs are advertised.  Your goal should be to find the other seventy percent that are unadvertised, offered by people who are trying to minimize risk by hiring people personally recommended to them,” he advised.  “LinkedIn is another great tool that will put you in a position to find a job.”

Charlie Spiering, currently the White House reporter for Breitbart News, followed Smith by praising Christendom’s curriculum.

“The liberal arts education at Christendom has a lot to offer, even improving you as a person.  It fosters the desire to pursue the truth, which is exactly what journalism is,” Spiering said.  “It will also help you to understand culture, human nature, and social media.”

Although Spiering is extremely grateful for his Christendom education, he thinks that hard work is also essential in order to succeed.  He recommended that students who are interested in journalism should submit as much of their written work as possible, posting interesting topics online, learning about social media, and reading as much as possible on current events.

“Persistence is key in journalism, but I highly recommend it as a fun and exciting job,” Spiering concluded.

Smith and Spiering both highly recommended the National Journalism Center as a place to gain invaluable experience.

The “Life on Tap” series is organized by the college’s career and leadership development office, featuring noted alumni speaking on topics such as journalism, web development, business, politics, finance, and non-profit business. To find out more, please visit here.

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