Yana Bychkova Looks Forward to Her Future

Yana Bychkova

When Yana Bychkova posts on Instagram in support of Ukraine, she’s supporting those she knows personally. Originally from Russia, the public relations senior has always loved communicating with and getting to know different people. 

“I wish I had an opportunity to write more about the [Russian/Ukraine War],” she says. “I have so many interesting stories to tell about my personal experience with the people I know here, in Russia and in Ukraine. It would be nice to share their stories with the world and talk more about it.” 

That passion for connection drove her to work in and study communications.

“With PR, it is a very unique field because it has a little bit of everything,” she remarks. “While studying PR, you also learn how to write journalistically, how to advertise, how to edit videos– a mix of everything.” 

Once admitted to Newhouse, Bychkova admits that at first, she didn’t know of the school’s prestige. 

“I originally wanted to study in New York City but then after I got accepted into Newhouse, I spoke to a few people who live in the US, and they told me Newhouse was a very nice school and I should really consider going there,” she says. 

Yana Bychkova

Though she didn’t get to study full time in the Big Apple, this past fall Bychkova attended the Newhouse NYC off-campus program. For one semester, she strengthened her professional relationships and networking skills, proving herself to be an enthusiastic, reliable and passionate student who carved out her own opportunities. 

“When Yana attended an event early on in the semester, she made the most of the networking portion and approached an alum—Mike Gursha—who is the CEO and co-founder of the sports site, Rookie Road,” says Cheryl Brody Franklin, director of Newhouse NYC. “From that interaction, she pitched him ideas, and then became a writer for the site. I was proud of her for taking the tools we taught her this semester—taking advantage of every opportunity and following up—to heart.” 

Yana Bychkova stands in the street in New York City.

While in the city, Bychkova fostered relationships with Newhouse faculty who encouraged her ambitious pursuits. When editors from large publications came to speak to the students, Joanna Nikas, deputy style editor for The Cut and adjunct professor, encouraged Bychkova to pitch a story directly to them.

“They asked me to send it to their email, so I reached out to Professor Nikas to help me with editing,” Bychkova says. “We had a shared Google Doc and we did some edits before I pitched, so she really helped me out and guided me.” 

Newhouse NYC made an impact on Bychkova in the present—and for the future. She worked for the New York Post doing web advertising through Post Studios—a team of writers, designers and producers who help brands tell stories through custom digital, print, social and mobile solutions.

“It was definitely very real-world experience,” she says. 

As she conquered metropolitan living and worked for a large publication, Bychkova glimpsed into what her future may look like.

“I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like living in the city because I was considering going there after graduation. It’s hard to commit to a place if you don’t know what it feels like living there.”

Yana Bychkova ice skates in Central Park.

Now back on campus in Syracuse, Bychkova is the public relations director for Baked magazine in addition to her work for sports website Rookie Road and the Newhouse Ambassador program. She navigates her academics and activities alongside the twisty legal guardrails of traveling and living internationally that create difficulty in setting future goals and committing to opportunities.

“I’m trying to connect the writing and communications part of me so I can work with people and still do writing,” she says. “I also want to somehow incorporate my psychology side, so advertising would be the best bet for me in the future. I guess I’m still a little unstable right now about this, because I feel the struggles of an international student with visas and everything.”

During her breaks, Bychkova sometimes travels back to Moscow where her family still resides. Alongside the typical stressors of travel, right now safety is a concern. 

“It’s very time-consuming traveling back and forth,” she says. “It’s also a little stressful because now with all the restrictions on freedom of speech, you’re always thinking ‘what if?’ Because I post on Instagram, and because I’m anti-Russia, it’s not very supportive in Russia at the moment. There’s a huge issue right now where people are not allowed to speak freely about Russia or politics right now.” 

Yana Bychkova

Even with the stress of the outside world, within the Newhouse School Bychkova continually finds support through faculty.

“My go-to professor is Professor Gaggin,” she says. “I took two or three classes with her for public relations, and she’s awesome. She’s very grounded and always happy to help. She’s given me lots of advice, will always reach out to me whenever something happens.” 

With that support, her ambition and penchant for seizing opportunities, Bychkova is primed for a successful future in what she hopes will be public relations or advertising, where she can establish a platform to share stories with the world.

Molly Irland is a junior advertising major in the Newhouse School.