Amidst changes and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Cindy Royal has embarked on a series of Zoom interviews with SJMC alumni to discuss their work-from-home strategies and the approaches taken by each of their companies. They also provide tips and suggestions for others finding themselves working from home and for those job hunting in these uncertain times.

Our alumni work in a range of important functions in the central Texas region and beyond and offer good insight into how various companies are coping. Check back frequently, as Dr. Royal will continue these interviews for the next several days.


4/16/2020: Andrew Waldrup is a 2010 graduate of SJMC’s Public Relations program. He is a Senior Product Manager for the Texas grocery chain H-E-B at their digital facility in Austin. He works on features and functionality for their mobile application, which has become an invaluable tool for Texans as they deal with grocery shopping during the pandemic. He discusses the ways in which his team and the company at large have had to adapt to increased demand and changing processes.


4/10/2020: This episode is a special edition of the alumni series. Dr. Royal asked SJMC alumni who are USAA professionals to join her DMI Capstone course as virtual guest speakers on April 8. Becky Larson is a 2016 graduate of the Master’s program with a Digital Media concentration and is a UX Designer at USAA. Rebekah Gould is a 2015 graduate of the Public Relations program. She is a Senior Digital Product Manager for USAA. The video above focuses on the adjustments they have had to make to address the pandemic, as well as advice for students who are job hunting. More of the full session can be found here. Dr. Royal gave the students the choice of turning off their video if they did not want to be seen on camera in the thumbnail, gallery shots, and in order for students to ask candid questions, the Q&A session was edited out of both videos. The extended version provides more information about the functions of UX Designer and Senior Digital Product Manager at USAA.


4/9/2020: Today’s interview is a two-fer! Anna Tauzin of the Texas Restaurant Association got a degree in journalism from SJMC and is the Chief Revenue and Innovation Officer for TRA. Alexandra White works for Anna as a Digital Marketing Specialist. She graduated from our Master’s concentration in Digital Media in 2018. They talk about the major challenges the restaurant industry is experiencing dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, and the work their organization is doing to support the Texas restaurant economy and culture.


4/8/2020: Virginia Alves is a 2015 graduate of our program and was one of the first students to achieve a Digital Media concentration. She is an Associate Distribution Producer for Insider, Inc., the company that manages the Business Insider news site. Virginia lives in New York, but is currently working from home in Austin.


4/6/2020: School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumnus Ben Slade is Systems Analyst at GoDaddy in Austin. Ben is a 2015 graduate of our program, and he speaks to the critical nature of both internal and customer-facing functions in a digital media organization.


4/3/2020: Sean Smith is a 2019 graduate of our Master’s program, concentrating in Digital Media. Sean works as a front-end developer and talks about the challenges the media company is experiencing in dealing with the pandemic.


4/2/2020: Carly Hohl is the Vice President for Client Services for the digital communication and marketing agency Mighty Citizen. Hohl received an undergraduate degree in Public Relations in 2008 and a master’s degree with a concentration in new media in 2010. Hohl provides insight into how digital marketing agencies are helping customers and supporting employees through issues created by the response to the pandemic.


4/1/2020: Maira Garcia is a Digital News Editor on the Culture desk at The New York Times. Garcia received her undergraduate degree in Journalism at Texas State in 2007 and a master’s degree with a concentration in new media in 2009. In addition to discussing her work-from-home activities, Garcia lives in Brooklyn, so she provides a sense of how people are feeling in the NYC area.


3/31/2020: Ashley Hebler is a Front-End Developer at the non-profit news organization Texas Tribune. Hebler received a master’s degree with a concentration in new media from our program in 2012. Texas Tribune has been invaluably providing information about the pandemic as it relates to Texans, and Hebler’s team keeps their digital products — like the website and content management system — humming. She offers some advice for those on the job market, for handling this challenging timeframe.