by Kyla Gulifoil, Staff Writer
After three and a half years of contributing to The Quadrangle, senior Sophia Sakellariou will graduate from Manhattan College and face the chaotic world of media in New York City.
Sakellariou will graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, with a focus in journalism and a minor in political science. She did not always intend to graduate with such a degree, as she changed from a chemical engineering major to a communication major just days before moving onto MC’s campus. Nonetheless, Sakellariou became involved in The Quadrangle the first opportunity she had.
“I knew I wanted to do journalism, but I knew nothing about it, I’d never written before, so my first day I literally felt like a fish out of water,” Sakellariou said. “The energy in the Quad office was crazy, everyone was excited and hadn’t seen each other during the summer, and I was just the new girl in the corner.”
Despite a startling jump into the world of journalism at MC, Sakellariou loved it from the very first day. She asserts that even as a freshman she felt that everyone on The Quadrangle staff was welcoming and eager to help her learn and grow as a journalist.
“It really is a family,” Sakellariou said.
Sakellariou began as a staff writer for The Quadrangle her freshman year, but took on the position of production editor her sophomore year. She was naturally drawn to the writing role of the paper but felt learning about production would allow her to be a more well-rounded member of the publication.
“It was fun because you get to do the writing side, but then be a part of putting it all together,” Sakellariou said. “So every week when we read through the issue, it was so cool to see ‘oh I laid out this page, or I did this.’ And even though some Sundays I did not want to sit in the closet [Quad Office], looking back I definitely really miss it.”
Now as a senior writer, Sakellariou has brought her skills to other positions around the city. Currently, Sakellariou is a Managing Editorial Intern for an e-book publishing company, and was surprised by how many journalism skills have become useful in a publishing position.
“It’s very similar to what I did for the Quad, with layout, because I was the Production Editor, but now I’m laying out e-books,” Sakellariou said. “I never would have thought of publishing, but a lot of the skills I learned through the Quad and the journalism curriculum are helpful in this role.”
Sakellariou also interned at a start-up digital magazine for a few weeks last year called “The Plunge.” The publication was aimed towards men getting married, which Sakellariou remarked was “super-niche”, but she felt that it was very impactful to get to see how an actual real-world publication functions from the inside.
Despite learning from her internships, they haven’t exactly matched what Sakellariou planned to pursue when beginning at MC. Sakellariou hopes to move towards the television sector of the news industry after she graduates.
“Definitely with the media, just because you have a plan, it’s not going to go that way, but it’s okay, and that’s what I’ve learned from my internships,” Sakellariou said. “Media is a very competitive field. I knew that before, and I knew it would be hard, but I still know it’s what I want to do with my life.”
Sakellariou has taken advantage of her remote-learning status this semester to focus on job hunting. She is applying to about ten jobs a week now, mostly to television networks like NBC. Part of her process has included reaching out to people, and networking with fellow Jaspers who work at companies she is interested in.
“To have people in my corner pushing my resume for me has been really nice,” Sakellariou said. “I’m really good at rushing my life. Like when I was in high school I just wanted to get to college, and when I was in college I just wanted to graduate and get a job. So I’ve been ready for this for a while.”
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect, Sakellariou was surprised to see so many entry-level jobs available at television networks in the past weeks.
“I guess that’s a perk of journalism, you’re always going to need news,” Sakellariou said. “People are reporting nonstop, 24/7, so it’s nice knowing with journalism your work is always going to be needed.”
Sakellariou also cited the common claim that ‘journalism is dying’, adding that most people that she hears say that either watch the news every day or read the paper every day. In some form or another, these critics still consume news on a regular basis.
Reflecting on the hard work of journalists in the field, and of her student colleagues at The Quadrangle, Sakellariou feels that journalists are misunderstood in today’s society.
“The Quadrangle staff are the smartest people I’ve ever met, and based on people on campus or even in the world in general, I feel like journalists — especially student journalists — are so discredited for how much they know,” Sakellariou said. “Especially now with ‘fake news’, people don’t love journalists. But I still love the work, because I still know it’s important. So at the end of the day that helps you deal with all the bulllshit.”
She added that student journalists choose to conduct interviews and write stories, while managing classwork and sports or clubs.
“When I looked through the Special Issue [which ‘The Quadrangle published on Nov 10, 2020], it was amazing [and] I was just so proud of everyone,” Sakellariou said. “I think that [issue] was really important to show that even through the pandemic, we’re serious and we’re working hard.”
Sakellariou’s love and pride of The Quadrangle is tremendous and she is excited to see where other Quad members will work one day.
“I can’t wait to see where everyone lands, because I know we’ll have someone at ‘The Times,’ we’ll have someone at ‘The Wall Street Journal’,” said Sakellariou. “I’m so happy I did the Quad, because, seriously, they made me fall even more in love with journalism, and with the people that are involved in it.”
Sakellariou’s final reflection of her time as a Quadrangle staff member is this: don’t be afraid.
“I used to be afraid to pitch stories and put ideas out there, but that’s how you go through the process and learn things,” Sakellariou said. “The Quad is not a place that will shut your ideas down. It really makes you confident. Like, even though I’ve never been in a real newsroom, I feel confident enough that if I got an entry-level position somewhere I wouldn’t shy away, because the Quad makes you realize that your voice is important and your voice matters, and that’s so important in a newsroom.”