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CCI Graduate Spotlight: Joe Kuczynski


Joe Kuczynski is a 2nd year master’s student of the College of Communication and Information, with a concentration in Journalism and Electronic Media. He entered into the program in the fall of 2013 and is on track to graduate this December. Kuczynski previously worked as a freelance video editor for Scripps Networks Interactive and currently holds a position as a student assistant for Tennessee Athletic Broadcasting while also doing video production for UT’s Office of Institutional Technology.

Learn about why Kuczynski chose University of Tennessee and how the opportunities he has taken advantage of during graduate school will help him further his career in the future.

What is your educational and professional background?

I attended Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, forty-five minutes outside of New York City. I studied journalism as an undergrad and worked at a radio station there that was just voted the number one college radio station. My main focus in journalism is producing as I worked at NY1 News in New York for five years.

Why did you choose to attend the University of Tennessee for your graduate studies in Journalism and Electronic Media?

I have a passion for covering sports and to be at such a great SEC school has given me the opportunity to do just that as covering SEC sports closely resembles professional sports. I also received an assistantship that helped pay for school with digital media services, which made attending UT possible. UT was a main choice not only for the program but also to be closer to my girlfriend as we had been in a long distance relationship for an extensive amount of time. And of course, orange is my favorite color. 

What opportunities have you had to use the skills that you have learned?

There have been quite a few instances such as working in the sports department with Link Hudson bringing me and other students in to receive real world experience. Not only do you get a great experience, but also you have the chance to use state of the art equipment while shooting and producing. I had a chance to work on the Medal of Honor Project this year, which has been a good project journalistically as you are digging for stories, sifting through the information to find stories, as well as interviewing the recipients. The interviews put many stories out in the open that would have never been shared, and they preserve history and things that should be remembered. Talking to these recipients who struggle day-to-day as they get older but can remember every detail from war, reminds you that you are doing a great service by honoring them and making sure their stories are not forgotten.

How do you think these opportunities have prepared you for your future career?

When I leave UT and go to my next job interview, they are going to ask questions that I can answer with my experience gained through this program. I worked with UT’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society and helped with producing their program, Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports. I had the opportunity to follow them and had to learn balancing as I did four interviews in two days across the state. These experiences produce skills that go past an entry-level position. UT has given me the chance to exploit these opportunities. Working hard enough in school, you can start to stand out and people will pull you to the side for projects that will open doors and sharpen skills you didn’t even know you had, which in turn makes you stand out above the competition. One day I want to be a professor and teach at a college level and I will need the graduate degree for that, but presently it is giving me the experiences I need to succeed.

What advice do you have for journalists who are considering graduate school?

Regarding journalism, there is a lot of people who don’t go and just get the experience firsthand at a job, but in graduate school you can go and capitalize on experiences that will be above an internship and give you real-world experience. That experience is what news directors and hiring managers want to see. My advice would be do your best to stand out. If you do that your professors will notice and give you opportunities and projects that open doors down the road.