City Lights Q&A Series: Penn Staters in weather, news discuss careers

John Patishnock
April 06, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Alumni Association will speak with each of our City Lights hosts and share the Q&A for each event in the six-part series that visits major metro areas. 

The next conversation is with Greg Forbes, Class of 1972; Sara Ganim, ’08; and Lorraine Sembra, ’00. The trio was part of a six-person panel April 2 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center for the City Lights event “Penn Staters in News and Weather Careers."

More information on the remaining four City Lights events can be found on the Alumni Association’s events page.

Penn State Alumni Association: What inspired you to pursue this career path, and how did Penn State help along the way?
Greg Forbes: Once I got to Penn State and got exposure to the research being done on tornadoes; I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist to save lives. I taught others at Penn State to save lives, and eventually I got an opportunity to work at The Weather Channel.
Sara Ganim: The Daily Collegian was a huge part of the reason that I am a reporter. The paper allowed me to jump in and be a real reporter, competing with the other local reporters in the county and covering the state. It was a huge launching pad, and I learned more from The Daily Collegian than I learned anywhere else. It was a big part of my early career, and credit to Penn State for making it an independent paper.
Lorraine Sembra: I started my career as an intern with the CNN Science and Technology Unit in a post-bachelor program, and I then connected with a Penn State alum who was working in that unit. This is a team that did great documentary work, and I thought that was interesting. I stayed connected through emails and calls, and when there was an internship opening on her team, she shared my information. I joined the unit, and within two weeks of my internship, I was working in the newsroom during 9/11. My work in the newsroom and constant drive led me to a full-time position with CNN. 

Penn State Alumni Association: What’s the significance and value of having this platform to connect with Penn Staters, and possibly others, and share your background, and personal and professional experiences?
Forbes: I think it's a good opportunity to show the breadth of expertise that has emanated from Penn State, and there's a lot of that at The Weather Channel. I think it's another platform to show how good Penn State is. Penn State is one of the best, if not the best meteorology school in the world, and this is a good way to highlight that.
Ganim: When you leave college, and leave State College, specifically, and venture out into big city, it’s easy to feel a little bit disconnected from that part of your life. This is a cool opportunity to see other people who have similar ideas about how Penn State has benefited them.
Sembra: When I went to Penn State, I majored in film. I love film, television and media. I didn't know how that would translate in the real world. If there is anything my career can help point out to Penn Staters, it’s that there are many different paths in media. I worked for a Sci-Tech Unit that did incredible documentaries. I worked on the military desk during the Iraq war. I hired and recruited on-air talent and was a talent coach for nine years, and now my job has grown even more. I recruit candidates for jobs all across the media industry. This is extremely rewarding, guiding talented people along their career path.

Penn State Alumni Association: How do you incorporate social media and a digital approach into your careers?
Editor’s Note: Forbes has more than 74,000 Facebook likes on his personal page, and Ganim enrolled in the first multimedia class Penn State offered for print journalism majors.
Forbes: There are a lot of people who see my Facebook page that don't have The Weather Channel, and I use Facebook to get out weather information, and information about severe weather threats. For people who do have weather.com or The Weather Channel, I use my Facebook page to tell them when I'll be on air, and they can get more information about the forecast by tuning in.
Ganim: I work at an organization where I don't feel like I'm limited to one medium. I get to write daily stories and breaking news as well as long-form stories and record pieces for television; and social media is a big part of what we do. We get to do everything while working at one organization, and that’s more about CNN than anything else.
Sembra: Social media and digital media are an essential part of my job. LinkedIn is a dedicated business networking site and allows the recruiter to view the candidate's resume and professional background. We post positions through Facebook and Twitter as well as engage with groups and networks through various social platforms. Social media and digital searches need to be in every recruiter's toolkit.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 06, 2015