A Goldring Program Capstone in Charleston

Every summer, the Newhouse School’s Goldring arts, style and culture journalism program cohort completes their master’s capstone project in Charleston, South Carolina, reporting on and working for the Spoleto Festival USA. Now back home, two Goldring graduates reflect on their time and experiences in The Holy City.

Jeannie Jedlicka G’24

A person with long blonde hair and a backpack on smiles for the camera while standing on a train platform

During our Goldring arts journalism and communications master’s capstone, I worked as the creative intern for the Spoleto USA festival, testing whether the education I’d been receiving at Syracuse could handle the Charleston heat.

Spoleto is a 17-day long performance arts festival with over 100 shows, ranging from ballet to opera to theater, and my role within the nonprofit was to create promotional content for the festival’s social media accounts. This took shape in various ways: One day I worked as a videographer at concerts, the next as a graphic designer in the office and, in the meantime, an interviewer on the street. I could man our booth at the Charleston Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning, then spend Sunday night at a folk concert underneath the Spanish moss.

I can’t claim to be a virtuoso of opera or a connoisseur of dance; however, the festival allowed me to test the skills I’ve acquired as an arts journalism student. I have new work for my portfolio as well as tangible and quantitative material to back my abilities as a creator. Rather than writing a cover letter for a position and stating that I created a mock ad campaign for class, I can say I worked in the creative department at a company whose social following increased by nearly 4.5% during my time there.

Regardless of my new, data-driven bragging rights, my main takeaway from working with Spoleto was the figurative fresh air I gained from working in an industry that feels natural to me. I created Instagram reels (as work!) while using my press pass to not-so-subtly sneak backstage and chat with artists. Every day at Spoleto brought a new surprise, and every performance gave me a new chance to grow. Serving as the creative intern gave me real-world exposure within the comfort of my Syracuse education, leading my capstone experience to be less of a wrap-up on my time at Newhouse and more of a launch pad into a career path I’m ecstatic to chase.

Brandon Wallace G’24

a person with short brown hair in a jacket and tie smiles for the camera while standing against a brick wall

For our arts journalism and communications (AJC) capstone, I had the privilege of working as a contributor to the Charleston City Paper, covering arts and culture events featured in the Spoleto USA and the Spoleto Piccolo festivals. Putting my skills from the Goldring program to use, the immersion in Charleston was a real litmus test of whether the degree was worth it.

As a contributor to the City Paper, I really enjoyed the freedom to make my own schedule, drink up the Charleston culture and enjoy some much-needed sun (I can’t forget to mention the amazing food). Before the capstone, thinking about covering a ballet or a play seemed daunting. Although I could conceptualize how to capture a physical painting or exhibition, doing the same with an experience and a feeling is much more difficult. But Charleston proved that the Goldring curriculum works — and left me confident in my abilities to share those intangible experiences through the written word.

Charleston as a city was bursting with art — from hyperlocal productions of original plays to those written by Tony award-winning writers, the Charleston arts scene offered varied experiences to build my resume and artistic repertoire. Yet, I would be remiss if I did not mention the inter-program connections that the capstone nurtured.

Throughout the academic year, there is a real sense of community among all Newhouse students, but we often get caught up in our own day-to-day responsibilities and naturally fall into program silos. Charleston jostled this — I worked directly with fellow Newhouse students in the magazine, news and digital journalism program and fostered connections that I will retain for years to come. The AJC capstone was marked by the connection it fostered on all levels. Whether that be between the Charleston community and students; the students and professionals in the field; the students and professors; and of course, among the students — I left feeling more connected to the Newhouse community than words can capture.

Ultimately, I was not sure how Charleston would go — yet I was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of professional development the three weeks afforded me. While it was most definitely an adjustment, I will forever cherish my capstone experience. Charleston gave me the confidence that no matter the wrong turns, misdirection or additional pursuits, I can accomplish anything. Although the future is not paved with perfect stones, I know whatever path my life takes, it will be smoother because of the opportunity Newhouse offered and the one-of-a-kind experience that was the Goldring program.