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Alumni Support, Internships Offer Springboard to Fulfilling Career

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Susan Dugan


Profile  •
Alumni  •
Claire Sisun

Claire Sisun

A real-world internship as a junior at the University of Denver jumpstarted a budding career in journalism and communications for Alumna Claire Sisun (BA ‘16).

Thanks to the assistance of Associate Professor Erika Polson and DU's internship program, Sisun — then a student in the Department of Media, Film & Journalism Studies (MFJS) — had the opportunity to intern for the Aurora Sentinel and the challenging assignment of covering jury selection for the Aurora theater shooting trial.

Sisun grew up a devotee of 9News and always dreamt of landing a career in broadcast journalism. Nonetheless, she recognized the internship with the Sentinel as a chance to hone her writing under the guidance of skilled editors and gain hands-on news experience. 

The Denver local had transferred to DU from Pitzer College in winter quarter 2013 to pursue a journalism degree from DU’s College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS).

Although Sisun ultimately switched gears from journalism to public relations upon graduation, the support of the university’s alumni base and several internship opportunities endowed her with the skills to make a seamless transition into a new field.

Leaning into Student-Alumni Networking Possibilities

Toward the end of her internship with the Sentinel, Sisun attended an evening, employment-focused MFJS class designed to introduce students to media professionals who spoke about their various roles and career paths. There she met Linda Kotsaftis, then an executive producer at 9News — a connection that led to another formative internship.

9News was also covering the Aurora theater shooting trial and Sisun went straight from the Sentinel to an internship working on the TV station’s trial coverage.

That position segued into a Tegna, Inc. Producer Development Program internship with 9News from January 2016 to June 2016, where she learned to write scripts and put the show together, as well as producing various newscasts.

After graduating from DU in March 2016, Sisun completed a Producer Development Program and eventually relocated to Portland, Oregon in June 2016 for a news producer job, where she eventually worked her way up to producing the noon newscast.

Although she loved “the whole newsroom world,” the experience culminated in a change of heart about her future career trajectory.

 “The hours are really hard and covering breaking news is a pretty high stress environment,” Sisun said. “After doing it for two years, I knew I couldn’t do it for my whole life.”

Finding Her True Calling

After switching from journalism to public relations, Sisun earned a master’s degree in strategic public relations from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in May 2020. 

Following graduation, she worked at a few PR agencies before landing her current position as global communications specialist for Fjallraven, an international outdoor apparel company.

Although based in Sweden, Fjallraven’s North American headquarters is located in Louisville, Colo.

“I wanted to live in Denver, go in-house, focus on one brand and do something really exciting,” Sisun said.

Growing up in Colorado Sisun skied every weekend and hiked every summer, so the outdoor brand seemed like a natural fit. Her role entails developing brand press materials, supporting seasonal launches and new apparel and crafting key storylines to increase brand awareness globally and in North America.

“I work on connecting members of the media with what we do by supporting events that get people out into nature,” Sisun said.

Last summer, for example, Sisun and her fellow colleagues accompanied a group of 20 female journalists from around the world on a four-night, five-day trek throughout Sweden.

“It was my favorite experience to date and such a cool way to introduce journalists to the brand and develop friendships,” she said.

Sisun feels lucky to work with a company that aligns with her interests and values. “We’re very sustainably minded and always advocating for people to get out and enjoy the benefits of nature,” she said. “I’m thankful to have found a job that at the end of the day, I feel good about doing.”

Helping Students Carve Paths to Meaningful Careers

Sisun recently spoke on a DU alumni-student career panel about her internships and circuitous route to meaningful employment. She also shared her experience working for an international company with students in her former professor Polson’s class on global and multicultural public relations and intends to continue participating in alumni events.

“When I was in school going to alumni events to meet people who work in the industry helped me pursue what I was interested in and find out what I really wanted to do,” she said.

As far as advice for students on finding meaningful employment after graduation and beyond?

“Try everything and anything,” Sisun said. “You can say yes to things that might not be exactly what you want but might lead to something else. Although I didn’t stay in journalism, I wouldn’t have the job I have today if I didn’t have that background. There are many different experiences that can shape what you end up deciding to do.”