Meet PW Alum Riley Sutika
One of the challenges many face in college is finding a major that fits their interests and future career goals. For Riley Sutika, she did not find the perfect major for herself until halfway through her junior year, after going through phases in Political Science, Pre-Law and Journalism. Once she learned about the Professional Writing program, she never looked back. “Immediately, I felt like the things I had always known and loved finally had application in the professional world,” Sutika said. “They teach you to think critically and to be very adaptable in any given situation. Professional writing really challenged me to push myself—to go places that scared me and do things that I didn’t necessarily feel prepared for. Both of those lessons were extremely important.”
Sutika graduated from the Professional Writing program with a concentration in editing and publishing in 2015. During her time at MSU, Sutika spent three years working for the Academic Orientation Program (AOP), where she held several positions, including resident assistant, resource fair coordinator, and office assistant. “Working for AOP was a great opportunity to share my love of MSU with both incoming and current Spartans. I was able to do everything from giving tours to producing the official MSU student planner to organizing a university-wide essay contest that was covered by the Big Ten Network!”
In the summer before her last semester at MSU, Sutika also participated in the MSU Study Away program in New York City, where she worked for 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students ages 6-18 creative and expository writing skills. “It was incredible,” she said. “It brought together my personal and professional passions because the organization works with underserved students to develop strong writing skills in a really fun, unique way based on the belief that these skills are essential to future success. I wholeheartedly believe in that mission, so it was extremely rewarding to help support their work.”
Although Sutika enjoyed her experience in New York, her interest in Detroit’s revitalization brought her back home toMichigan. Sutika now works for Detroit Public TV, where she leads the station’s efforts to secure grant funding from public and private foundations. She also serves as on-air talent during the station’s fundraising pledge drives. “It’s a job that requires a lot of dedication, strategy, and organization. Sutika said. “I love that my role here at DPTV is so multi-faceted. I am responsible for prospecting new sources of funding, writing proposals, evaluating the success of our programming, reporting on the station’s impact, and managing active grants. Every day is different.” In addition to this work, she also volunteers as a coach for Girls on the Run, an after school program for third, fourth, and fifth grade girls that teaches confidence and life skills through fun, engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement.
Sutika attests that her experience as part of the Professional Writing program and at MSU has helped prepare her for a professional career. “The professional writing classes allowed me to make connections and work with real-world clients as much as possible,” she said. “I was thrilled to see how relevant the things we did in those classes were”
For current students, Sutika gave her advice as to how they can start building their professional profiles. “Get involved in everything that sounds interesting to you, even if you just go to one meeting and find out it’s not right for you. At least you know and you have that experience to talk about. Continue to seek out new opportunities.” she said. “Make connections. It is never too early to start networking.”
Written by Camille Douglas