Alumni Profile: Katie Miller, BA ’10

Katie Miller is a University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) alumnus who majored in electronic media with a minor in communications. Since graduating in 2010, Katie has shown great success in the news production industry working as a production associate at CBS News. Katie Miller now takes a moment to reflect on how the SOJC has helped shape her career.

What made you choose CBS News and what has it been like to work there?
It may sound silly to say, but I’ve been aiming to work at CBS since I was a little kid. I have vivid memories of standing in front of the bathroom mirror practicing stand-ups with a hairbrush, signing-off with “Katie Miller, CBS News.” I was probably one of the only 9-year-old kids running around playing make-believe war correspondent.

As a PA, I handle quality control for everything visual on the show, making sure what was asked for is actually delivered in the right format and look, with the proper spelling and images. So some days, working at CBS just feels like a normal job: wake up, type a million words, spell check, go home. Other days, the gravity of what we are doing—the fact that we are handling not just a national, live broadcast every day, but actually delivering real, once-in-a-lifetime news—hits me. Working on a live show is like working with a live patient. Things can turn in an instant; you have stay calm, think on your feet and have a plan b, c, d, and be ready to adapt when none of those plans work. Live news is the closest thing to breaking news that you can get on a daily basis, and we do two hours a day. I love breaking news because those are the stories that people need to see, and we are doing everything we can to get the news out on the shortest turnaround. In the meantime, you always know in the back of your head that your mistakes are going to show-up in front of millions of people.

How was the transition to New York City?
My transition to New York was pretty seamless. I certainly missed my family and friends who were all back on the west coast, but for the most part, I appreciated the quick pace of Manhattan. I had always worked a couple of jobs and internships at a time through school so I was used to being busy. New York City seemed like the perfect place for me to keep pace. As life has continued to progress, my nieces and nephews in Oregon have gotten older, and I have made a life for myself here, being 3,000+ miles away from my family continues to be the toughest part about relocating for work. It’s certainly a trade-off, as my job doesn’t exist in many other locations.

Is there an example of how an SOJC faculty member aided you with your career?
Rebecca Force pushed me to do an internship at the local ABC Affiliate KEZI while I was a student in the SOJC. She encouraged me to go for the internship before we had completed any of our live news courses, so by the time we started those, I felt I was ahead of the game. I got to be very hands-on in my internship at KEZI and was able to learn the ins and outs of line producing at the affiliate level. She provided me with some of my most frustrating failures, which are now some of my most hilarious memories, in the SOJC, as she always pushed me to step up and try things that seemed scary at the time. She pushed me to apply for the CBS internship even though I thought it was a long shot and was the first person to hug me when I got it. At the time, I hadn’t even told my parents I had applied because it seemed so unimaginable to me. She was truly my mentor.

What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give current SOJC students?
It’s really important for SOJC students to be willing to keep an open mind as they work their way through jobs and internships. It’s important to be goal-oriented and to have an idea of what you want to do, but realizing what you don’t want to do in life is sometimes just as important. Including my internship, I worked at four different departments at the network before I figured out what I really wanted to do. I even got my “dream job” as an associate producer for the Weekend Evening News and then realized that I didn’t want to be a producer for the rest of my life. It’s okay to be open to change in your life, your career path, your place of work, your vision, and your goals. Hanging on to something because it’s what you decided you should be doing could be what’s holding you back from what you’re meant to be doing. 

What impact do you think SOJC education has had on your life?
Between my internships that the SOJC helped me get and the live-news experiences the SOJC provided, I arrived as a CBS intern miles ahead of many other students. I didn’t just sail along, by any means, but the SOJC helped provide me with the right work ethic to walk into a network newsroom and not be afraid to volunteer for any job being thrown my way. I was confident not only in the skills I had been taught but had been able to hone and regularly practice through the hands-on SOJC programs.

What’s next for you?
Right now I plan on staying the course and working my way up the production ladder. I’ve worked in several PA positions here on CBS This Morning and at CBS News that have all brought their own challenges, and I hope to continue to an Associate Director position in the near future. Directing a broadcast is a goal that few get to attain at the network level, but for me that is the ultimate goal.