“Stay true to yourself, [and] cherish this moment because there is a reason people say college is the best time of your life,” Montclair State University alumna Nakia Swinton said, as she recalls her time at Montclair State.
Talent assistant for truTV, Swinton was born and raised in New Jersey and had a hard time deciding what university to attend and what major to declare after high school, until she took her father’s advice.
“I was driving in the car with my dad and he said that I would be good at broadcasting and I would like it. I literally had no idea what to look for in schools so [I] just took my dad’s advice,” Swinton said.
She then described how she came to find Montclair State.
“I wanted to go to school in California but my mom said that was too far and too expensive. So then I had to look into state schools and did research on top New Jersey schools for broadcasting and Montclair kept coming up in my search,” Swinton said.
Swinton was already familiar with Montclair State since her father was also an alumnus. Attending Montclair State and majoring in communication and media arts was the right choice for Swinton. To her, it was the perfect size, close to home and for the first time she felt like she could be noticed by being herself.
During her time at Montclair State, Swinton did not have a hard time making new friends and getting involved on campus. During the first weeks of her freshman year, she decided to attend a club fair where she came across WMSC 90.3 FM, Montclair State’s radio station.
She quickly learned about the radio station and eventually joined them.
“I trained quickly and passed my test and had my own show from spring semester of my freshman year until graduation. I was one of the only students who had a hip-hop focused show so it was unique,” Swinton said.
She fondly reminisced on her radio show.
“The show was called ‘Overnight Delight’ from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. and it got well known in the local hip-hop scene. I interviewed a lot of local hip-hop artists who I still talk to today,” Swinton said.
With her successful involvement with the radio station, Swinton landed her first internship at BET in the fall of her junior year.
Swinton was a programming and planning intern, and her job was to track BET’s competitors, following trends and researching what the target audience would be interested in.
Her momentum did not stop. After she completed her internship with BET, she landed another internship with NBCUniversal in the diversity and inclusion department. There, she researched nonprofits that the company could partner with and support, as well as helping on the social strategy to connect to employees.
During her senior year she interned at a music press company, which was how she was introduced to the communication and press industry. Her job consisted of writing pitches to music journalists to feature artists and track the press sites that would write about them.
Her last internship was with VH1 on the communications team, where she helped write press releases for show premieres, attended press tours and assisted at press events.
Two weeks before she graduated, Swinton landed a job with VICE Media after being told she wouldn’t be able to find a job in the industry so quickly. This was her biggest accomplishment, but had many others to follow.
“My other big accomplishment would be hosting and producing the Black History Month episodes for VICE’s daily podcast in 2018, as well as interviewing Stefani Robinson, a young producer on Atlanta,” Swinton said. “Other accomplishments would be Medium picking up my piece on Black Republicans, launching my podcast and making the moves to pursue my dream of being in comedy with my current role at truTV.”
Even though these accomplishments were huge, Swinton is proud of making it through tough times after college and maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with her friends and family.
Swinton’s success manifested because of the hard work she did throughout her college experience. She has grown a lot since college and views the world differently.
“My mindset has changed drastically since college as to what is really important in life and what actually matters,” Swinton said. “My goal is to still be in a position that pays well, but is also something creative that I do well.”
She now works as a talent assistant for truTV after leaving her first job at VICE Media as a communications coordinator. She advises current students to not take things for granted and enjoy every second of your college experience.
“Experience and networking is super important in the entertainment and media industry, so I would get a head start on that. At the end of the day, your friends get you through the tough days, so keep those relationships close to you and put in the work to maintain them,” Swinton said.
She stressed the importance of one’s time in college.
“Your grades aren’t everything but do not slack off. Enjoy your time in college and put yourself out there,” Swinton said. “Be open to new experiences, meet new people, join a club that you fit in well with. I feel bad for people who have terrible college experiences or don’t make the best of it.”