The Power of Mentoring: Carolyn Clark '04

Meaningful relationships are a hallmark of an Appalachian education. Carolyn Clark has achieved career success in part because of caring professors and alumni who value being of service to others.

From internship to career

Carolyn Clark took a chance on applying for a New York City early career program, and the experience has dramatically shaped her career.

Acceptance into the prestigious NBC Page Program took her from producing local morning news to working on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, which later led to a job with a public relations firm and most recently a position with Yahoo!.

"For 25 years old, I've done a lot in my career and had some unbelievable experiences," says Clark. She is now a corporate communications manager for Yahoo!

Faculty mentors played an important role

The communication major credits Appalachian State University mentors for her success. "Appalachian prepared me to go and take new adventures," she says. "I think being accepted into the NBC Page Program was really because of some of the faculty members who mentored me, particularly Kevin Balling and Larry Cornelison in the communication department, and Patrick Setzer, a communication alumnus who led the Appalachian Student Ambassador program."

As a student, Clark worked at Mountain Television Network in Boone and led campus tours to prospective students. After graduation she worked at WCTI, an ABC affiliate in New Bern, N.C., before applying for the NBC Page Program.

The NBC Page Program accepts only 50 people a year from some 15,000 applications. "I was going against people from Harvard and Yale," Clark recalls. To her delight, she got in. As an NBC Page, Clark learned the nuts and bolts of network television and worked with celebrities. Among her opportunities, she served as Conan O'Brien's assistant and head production assistant for a Hurricane Katrina relief concert.

Upon completing her internship, Clark received an offer to help a CEO start The Dowd Agency, a company specializing in media relations, crisis communications, event planning, image consulting and community relations. As director of operations and senior account executive, Clark worked with clients such as Donald Trump, Mark Burnette Productions, and Yahoo!

Impressed by her work, Yahoo! in late 2007 recruited her as corporate communications manager to work with its newly developed Consumer Team. She develops stories for a variety of media that promote the company's products for consumers. "It is very creative and challenging. I love it," she says.

Appalachian, the place to be

In selecting a college, Clark said she was attracted to Appalachian in large part for its atmosphere.

"I walked onto campus when I was a prospective student and felt that it was the right place. From day one, people were smiling at me and I just knew it was the right place to be. I've never regretted that decision... Appalachian is the place to be, really.

Carolyn describes her experience...

"Coming from North Carolina to New York was a great adventure for me.

"I graduated in May of 2004 and immediately went into a producing job. I was an executive producer of a morning show in North Carolina, which I thought was the right track. Certainly, everybody at Appalachian had led me to that point.

"I produced local news for a while and decided I wanted more, and I was ready to jump out. Given the tools that Appalachian gave me, they prepared me to be able to go and take new adventures.

"I applied to the NBC Page Program which other people like Regis Philben, Michael Eisner, Cokie Roberts, and some of the most famous people in television broadcasting came from. I applied and I really didn't think there was a chance that I was going to get accepted. I was going against people from Harvard and Yale. Honestly, while I think Appalachian is better than those schools, in the country it's not as well-known, yet.

"When I was accepted, I was floored. I came to New York and started working with NBC. I worked on Saturday Night Live. I was Conan O'Brien's assistant. I got to do all kinds of really fun things as part of NBC and then I was recruited to come over to the Dowd Agency.

"I have spent two and a half years here in New York. It's not Boone—and I miss the mountains every day—but it's fun to be extending the Appalachian family all the way up here and teaching people all about it."

Carolyn Clark, 2008

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