UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Meghan Reinhardt knew she would be staying in New York during the week of Thanksgiving and was looking for opportunities for professional experience.
Reaching out to a fellow Schreyer Honors Scholar alumna gave her that and a new appreciation for a holiday tradition.
Reinhardt, who graduated from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications in May, was a production assistant at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, doing everything from handing out credentials to reading lines in the chair of parade host Savannah Guthrie of NBC during technical rehearsals.
“It was great to learn and see this massive broadcast come together,” Reinhardt said. “I’ve always watched it in my living room at home and said, ‘It runs so smoothly.’ And it does run smoothly, but it’s crazy to see everything that goes on behind the scenes.”
Reinhardt, who works in the city for BlueprintNYC, an agency specializing in meetings and events, internal communications, and live and virtual training, landed the temporary position thanks to an assist from Kylie Haoues, the production manager for the "Today" show who knew the production management team for the parade. She provided Reinhardt with a contact, and Reinhardt did the rest.
Reinhardt originally connected with Haoues, a 2010 graduate of the Bellisario College of Communications and the Schreyer Honors College, through Schreyer’s Mentoring with Honors program just before her senior year.
“Right off the bat, she was willing to help,” Reinhardt said. “I know one of the biggest things she helped me with at first was getting my resume in order. I always thought I had a pretty good resume, but she helped me cut things down and really tailor my resume to the industry, especially because she knows that industry so well.”
Haoues said she was inspired to serve as a mentor in part because of the kindness shown to her by Farnoosh Torabi, a 2002 Smeal College of Business and Schreyer Honors College graduate. During her senior year at Penn State, Haoues was hoping to get into the NBC Page Program but having trouble finding contacts. She saw Torabi, a financial expert, author and speaker, on an episode of the "Today" show and, despite meeting her only briefly at an Honors College event, sent her an email. Torabi responded almost immediately with contact information for a page on the "Today" set. Haoues joined the Page Program in July 2011 and became a full-time NBC employee six months later.
“Something that simple of her passing along someone’s email, I will never forget,” Haoues said. “I’ve been working at NBC more or less ever since. I know personally how important it is for someone to give you that little sort of helping hand and make a connection and how much of a difference that can make in your life as a whole.”
Reinhardt started as an intern in the video department at BlueprintNYC in September, then quickly transitioned to a dual role where she was also assisting with marketing and social media.
“I was in these two worlds. In the video department, I was learning so much about things I didn’t know,” she said. “On the flip side, I was not only using my degree but also learning more from the head of business development and how to apply it.”
Reinhardt, who graduated with honors in advertising and public relations, was the vice president of the Public Relations Student Society of America and the editor in chief of Valley Magazine while at Penn State. She said she developed leadership skills such as the ability to have tough conversations and also cultivated a love of storytelling, which motivates her today.
“My overall experiences at Penn State really helped me in both of the roles I’ve had since graduating,” she said. “It’s the willingness to just kind of dive into things and figure things out as they come and learn along the way. I think a lot of people at Penn State have that kind of spirit about them.”
About the Schreyer Honors College
The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars total more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth Campuses. They represent the top 2 percent of students at Penn State who excel academically and lead on campus.