Alumni share the gift of experience in NYIT's mentorship program
By Michael Schiavetta (M.A. '07) and Briana Samuels
For Xiang Ji (B.F.A. ’11, above left), it began with a phone call and led to a career filled with promise.
Inside the Upper West Side offices of New York City-based Viacom, home to MTV Networks, the communication arts graduate reflects on an NYIT educational experience which taught her skills that no classroom lesson could deliver.
“I wanted to combine technology with communications, so I contacted the NYIT Alumni Mentor Program,” says Ji, who is now working as a field reporter for the Chinese TV network Sinovision in New York City.
Ji transferred to NYIT-Manhattan to pursue a career in communications after studying in China. “I wanted to be in New York, home to the best media in the world,” she says.
Her alumni mentor, Gina Colon-Bumbalo (M.A. ’96, above right), was only too happy to oblige. “Xiang was fantastic, ambitious, and just wanted to learn everything,” she says.
A line producer for MTV Networks, where she has worked for 12 years, Colon-Bumbalo brought Ji to video shoots as a production assistant. She worked on shows like My Super Sweet 16 and learned firsthand how professionals at one of the top global TV networks assemble and produce a hit show.
The mentoring experience proved beneficial to Colon-Bumbalo as well. During her days as an NYIT student, professors Tony Piazza and Don Fizzignolia served as mentors in their own way and helped her land jobs at News 12 and Bravo TV. To fulfill that role and have Ji as a protégé sparked an excitement and desire to continue helping young students.
“It made me want to do it again, especially with students who want to strive and don’t know how,” says Colon-Bumbalo.
In addition to working on MTV shows, Ji learned ways of enhancing her personal brand for future employers. “Gina helped me with my resume and showed me how to find job opportunities based on my interests and career goals,” says Ji. “She also offered advice on the correct protocol for following up with employers after an interview.”
It was the perfect complement to Ji’s lessons in the classroom, where she learned the theories and professional skills that were put into practice at MTV. “Through my internship and with Gina’s guidance,” says Ji, “I was able to learn how it really is on the job.”