As her graduation date approached, Marissa Mullen pursued her passions and worked hard to land herself a job at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and she is so glad she did. At the time, she learned the show was adding a music department, an opportunity she had been eager for since first discovering it through her co-op experiences at Northeastern. In an effort to make this dream come true, she contacted friends of friends, reached out to connections she had made during her co-ops, and sent her resume out far and wide, hoping for the best. This was more than two years ago, and CAMD alumna Marissa ’15, who studied Communications and Music Industry, has now been working at The Late Show in New York City ever since.
Her creative, strategic, and ambitious approach to landing her job there turned out to be exactly the skills and attitude needed to succeed in the role. After applying, she worked on building her photography portfolio with singer Meghan Trainor, whom she was introduced to through a mutual friend and went on tour with immediately following graduation. Marissa spent a few months running Meghan Trainor’s meet and greets (on the MTrain Tour with Charlie Puth), where she coordinated and executed VIP experiences for premium ticket holders – and also managed to fit in an interview with The Late Show when they reached out to her right as the tour was winding down.
She wears many hats at The Late Show, currently serving as both the House Band Coordinator and the full-time assistant to world renowned jazz musician and humanitarian Jon Batiste (whose band, Stay Human, has been The Late Show’s house band for years). As House Band Coordinator, she organizes the band’s daily schedule and day-of-show logistics, runs rehearsal and sound-checks, manages the interns, coordinates sit-in guests with the band, and more.
“When we tape The Late Show, the day is very fast paced, and staying on top of everything is crucial,” describes Marissa. “It’s important to be able to adjust to any requests from producers throughout the day with the ever-changing production schedule. Multitasking is a must.”
Being able to juggle many things at once simply comes with the job, as Marissa is often managing multiple calendars, meetings, and social media accounts at once, sometimes while also travelling.
“It’s busy, but a wonderful experience,” Marissa continues. “I travel with Jon to every event, gala, concert, and appearance. Out at events, I coordinate logistics and hospitality while capturing photos and videos to post.”
Luckily, this isn’t Marissa’s first run in the late-night show business, so the pace and multifaceted nature of it all was no huge surprise. As an undergrad, Marissa’s second co-op was at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and it really helped her discover her passions and future career goals. There, she worked for The Roots, the show’s house band, and helped with the feature music acts, learning the ins and outs of television production.
“At Fallon, I learned my passion for late night television and enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the production. Different musical artists would come through every day and no show was the same,” explained Marissa. “Since I studied Music Industry and Communications at Northeastern, working in the Music Department at a late-night television show was the perfect blend of the two subjects.”
During this co-op, because of the nature of the timing, Marissa was able to work the premiere of the Tonight Show that February, of 2014, which she describes as a historic moment. She was assigned to help with the music shoot where U2 played at the Top of the Rock, 60 stories up, during sunset – a truly unforgettable memory. Before that, she experienced her first co-op at Nettwerk Music Group (Fun., Father John Misty, Guster, Dispatch), where she had the chance to explore the inner workings of a boutique management company and learned about the truly hard work that goes into maintaining an artist’s career.
These co-op stories are just a few of the many incredible moments that Marissa has had, and continues to have, working in such a vibrant and endlessly interesting industry.
“At The Late Show, there have been countless moments where I look around and think, ‘is this real life?’ Memorable moments include working and attending the Emmy’s while Stephen Colbert hosted, art directing The Late Show EP (album by Jon Batiste & Stay Human), recording video of James Taylor playing guitar in our tiny rehearsal space, getting to interact and watch some legendary artists in the studio (Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul Simon) and having my photos of Jon Batiste published in Vogue and The New York Times,” said Marissa.
As an alumna and someone who has followed her passions and turned them into a career, we asked Marissa to share some closing advice to current Northeastern students: “Always work very hard and always be kind to everyone you meet. You never know who will open a door that could lead to your career,” she said. “Keep your connections close but always remain real and genuine.”