Eugenia Finizio Cassidy, SMPA BA ‘13, grew up knowing that she wanted to be a journalist. Little did she know that one day she would work for a start-up company that would change how we get our news.
Growing up, Cassidy read the school morning announcements and interned for a local TV station. “I was one of those rare cases where I felt like there was only one thing that I really wanted to do, which came in handy when I was looking at colleges,” Cassidy says.
When Cassidy visited GW for the first time, she knew the School of Media & Public Affairs had exactly what she needed to pursue her dreams. “I could major in broadcast journalism and be in this incredible city where all of these internships were right off campus. Just coming off of the 2008 presidential election, I walked past Thurston and saw how close it was to the White House. I just remember thinking, ‘This is the best school in the world. I have to go here.’”
During her time at GW, Cassidy interned throughout D.C. and made as many connections as possible within her field. She also had advocates within SMPA to help start her career. “I actually had a meeting with Professor Sesno, and he said, ‘What do you want to do? What can I do to help you get connected?’ And I thought that was one of the most important and incredible meetings I ever had at GW.”
After graduating from GW in 2013, Cassidy knew her career would not be linear. She started working at NY1 News in New York City. “My first job out of school, I was a local reporter in Queens and Staten Island. It was a one-man band.” She then moved on to CBS News, where she gained experience covering national news in a big newsroom. After that, she became an evening reporter at a local TV station in Westchester, New York.
While Cassidy excelled in the traditional broadcast journalism field, she wanted to work somewhere that was reinventing how we got our news. “I looked at women who were 10 to 15 years ahead of me, and I thought, ‘I don’t know if that is what I want to do.’ I felt like my friends were not watching the news that I was producing. They were getting their news in different ways.”
In 2015, she saw an opportunity to work in a more innovative area of journalism, and she took it. TheSkimm, a news start-up company, was hiring.
Cassidy had first become interested in theSkimm back in 2012. When she was a senior at GW, Cassidy emailed the founders, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, while theSkimm was still in its first days. They were not hiring at the time, but Cassidy did not let that stop her. “I updated them every six months, saying, ‘Hey, here’s my latest story.’ Keeping in contact with them was what really helped.”
Cassidy joined theSkimm in 2015. At the time, there were just over 10 employees. “I started as a writer, so I wrote the Daily Skimm newsletter every day for about two years. I was able to be a part of a company that was growing so quickly. At one point, we would pop a bottle of champagne every time we hit an additional 100,000 readers, and we were popping a bottle what felt like every month. With that comes pressure. Waking up at 4 am and realizing that you are the only person pressing send on an email to 6 million people is a lot of responsibility.”
TheSkimm currently has more than 7 million daily readers. Now the managing director of content development, Cassidy is grateful for the role she has played at theSkimm. “It is rewarding to be a part of something from the beginning that has impacted so many people.”
Cassidy recognizes how the GW network has helped her succeed. “I have to say, making a really good friend at GW has gotten me as far in my career as some internships. There is really no job that I have had that I cannot trace back to someone I met or was introduced to at GW.”
And Cassidy is always ready to pass on the favor. “I appreciate the hustle when someone emails me and says, ‘Hey, you have no idea who I am, but my name is Jane, and I go to GW. Can I set up a call with you?’ If people didn’t answer those emails when I was at GW, I would never be where I am today, so I always answer.”
Currently, there are five GW alumnae serving on theSkimm’s team--though Cassidy does not believe that is solely because of the GW alumni network. “GW trains students really well to work in the real world, so I do as much as I can to put the applicant in front of the hiring manager, but I think their talent speaks for itself.”
As for Cassidy’s advice for GW students: “You do not need to take the traditional path. It is okay to take a risk. I can’t promise you that it will work out, but taking that risk is what it is all about.”