Sarah Burns Alumni Success Story

Image Credit: Kayla Mitchell

Written by: Kayla Mitchell

Sarah Burns graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications with a concentration in Media Arts Production in May 2021. After her time being an involved student through multiple organizations on campus, after graduation Sarah moved to her dream state to pursue her dreams. With a successful career looking ahead for Sarah, Millersville University served as a foundation for her current and future success.

Image Credit: Sarah Burns

Why did you choose Millersville University?

When I first started looking at colleges, I picked out Millersville as a top choice because it was the only state school, besides Penn State that offered meteorology. I still love weather and science, but soon into my time at Millersville I discovered I had a deeper passion for storytelling… and that I wasn’t as perhaps as mathematically inclined as I had hoped.

What made you choose media arts production as your major?

Well back when I was Millersville, which was only a short time ago, the major was actually called Speech Communication with a concentration in Media and Broadcasting, which is a lot to fit on a degree, admittedly. I knew I wanted to go towards broadcasting and that Millersville had the necessary tools for me to continue that pursuit. The department is very hands on and personalized, which I valued. With bigger broadcasting and media schools you don’t necessarily get those types of opportunities.

Image Credit: Sarah Burns

Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars? If so, what were they and what did you enjoy about them?

  • Yes! I did a lot outside of class. I was the mellophone section leader and vice president for the Millersville University Marching Band. My freshman year I also did wind ensemble and played the French horn. I anchored and produced for MUTV. I went on trips and attended meetings for the National Broadcasting Society. I was a member of Delta Phi Eta. I also worked on campus as a DA in all the villages, and I got my MMJ certification through NBS from a program outside of Millersville with West Texas A&M University. I also participated in the Midnight Run and worked with a producer in LA that I met on an NBS trip to create a little entertainment news YouTube channel on the side called Entertain 60. I would create little newscasts and he would send me feedback each week. I
    Image Credit: Sarah Burns

    also had two internships— one was a summer recurring one, non-broadcast related at a pharmaceutical company called Fujirebio. The other was during my spring semester at ABC27. I also wrote a lot, I self-published my first book during the pandemic (I don’t make any money from it unfortunately). All of my clubs, whether broadcast related or not helped me in some type of way. Just having fun, raw, humbling experiences with friends holds just as much value as real world experience. I had a healthy amount of stress and responsibilities. Being able to multi-task with all my extra clubs and things propelled me into the real world and prepared me to handle tight deadlines and heavy workloads. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a little crazy. I don’t say “no” to anything, which is both a blessing and a curse.

Any favorite classes or professors that you’ve learned from?

Yes! Multiple. Specifically Dr. Irwin and Professor Machado. I really enjoyed advanced television production and being able to make short films. I think the group projects you do in each of their classes is one of the closest experiences you’ll get to the real world. Dr. Irwin’s web writing class was also very helpful for my current line of work. I found both of their classes put me at times miles ahead of my colleagues.

Image Credit: Sarah Burns

What is your current job?

Currently, I am a Multi-media journalist, a digital producer, and weekend assignment desk editor for CBS21 in Harrisburg.

Typical day in the life of your current job.

My job changes slightly, so I’ll explain what happens on my busiest days, which is Thursday. I get to work at 8:30am, I have a meeting at 9:15 and 9:45 to discuss the content of the day. If I’m lucky, in a perfect world, my interview is scheduled for 11am. So I grab my gear and drive a station car to shoot my package and B-roll by myself. That’ll take maybe an hour or two and then I go and grab a vosot. In between the two I’ll write my script and cut my SOTs out. Then I’ll get back to the station around 3pm and have a meeting at 3:05pm, and then I’ll edit my content together, all of it, by 5pm and hand it in. Which includes SOTs, script, tracked audio, a full pkg, my entire vosot, two web articles, standup, tag, the whole enchilada. Then I’ll write two web articles for the content I produced. I’ll continue writing breaking news for the desk and searching for press releases/ crime watch updates/ affidavits until I go home around 6:30pm/7. I have four ten hour work days.

How has what you learned throughout your years at Millersville University impacted your career and knowledge now?

Image Credit: Sarah Burns
  • I absorbed every single piece of advice my professors gave me. I remember the exact day, sitting in Professor Machado’s class, he told us that if we really wanted a job in the industry, that we weren’t going to find it in Lancaster, PA, and that we were going to have to be prepared to re-locate. He said “pick a major city, and go there”. After I graduated, I moved to Abilene, Texas and got my first job in the industry. I stayed open to opportunities and put fear of leaving home aside in order to get what I wanted out of my career. Anyone who makes it in broadcasting has to go through this process. Little side projects and things outside of class are what gave my career. Being able to apply what I leaned in my classes to little group settings, side projects, and things as easy as TikTok, provided hands on experiences that I needed. In my first market, I had to teach one of my coworkers how to white balance a camera. That was an eye opener, and a signal that I had received a valuable education.

Any advice for incoming students?

Always say yes! Even if things seem wild and crazy you never know where something is going to lead. A lot of my opportunities came from bizarre unrelated side projects. Whatever you’re passionate about, and whatever makes you quirky, is what you should go after. You only get to follow your dreams once in your lifetime, so there’s no better opportunity to go after them than the present.

Image Credit: Sarah Burns