Northeastern University’s Young Alumni Advisory Board (YAAB) works to empower graduates and encourage their continued involvement and support of the university. Members work closely with the Office of Alumni Relations to provide their advice and feedback on matters of concern to young alumni. The YAAB is comprised of students from all of Northeastern’s colleges, who bring their diverse experiences and perspectives to meetings, events, and networking opportunities. The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) has three representatives currently serving – Katie Robidoux, Courtney Byer, and Sydney Stewart – who are all working to strengthen the Northeastern University community, with a keen awareness of the challenges and opportunities relevant to CAMD.
Sydney Stewart graduated from Northeastern in 2015, with a degree in Communication Studies and Cinema Studies. She is now a Brand Social Producer at Black Entertainment Television (BET) in New York City, where she promotes the network’s brand and leads its social media presence, specifically Facebook.
“We post content that highlights black celebrities and trending news topics,” Sydney explained. “Our team helps to serve as the voice of BET and to make sure we have a strong digital presence. I am really enjoying this opportunity it so far, it’s a new journey for me!”
This position stemmed from one of the co-op opportunities Sydney had during her time at Northeastern, where she spent a semester on BET’s Production Management team. After the position ended, she stayed in touch with Ken Gibbs, who is BET’s Vice President of Digital Video and Social Content and someone Sydney viewed as a mentor during her time there. She also stayed in touch with many other people she worked with during her co-op – and when the Brand Social Producer role recently came up, Sydney was a perfect fit.
Sydney is enjoying her time in New York City, which is where her two other co-ops were, serving as a Public Relations Intern at Focus Features (owned by NBC Universal) as well as a Creative Executive Intern at BMF Media. Both these positions helped prepare her for the role she is doing now, Sydney is learning how interact with talent and to understand the impact that social media has on our culture.
At Northeastern, Sydney was also very involved in student organizations and societies. She was (and still is) an active member in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., taking on multiple roles, for the Iota Gamma Chapter from secretary to event planner. One of the largest-scale initiatives Sydney was involved in was planning the 40th reunion of the sorority, which is ultimately what sparked her interest in joining Northeastern’s Young Alumni Advisory Board.
Many of the alumni who were invited to the reunion had not returned to Boston since graduation. Sydney and her sorority sisters motivated the return of over fifty African American women to return to the University for this event which in turn has motivated many them to sign to return this coming for June for the forty fifth reunion.
“My goal of being on the Young Alumni Advisory Board is to show alumni that Boston has changed drastically, and that the university has grown in some incredible ways,” said Sydney. “I love the idea of getting alumni back involved in campus activities and encouraging them to stay involved with clubs and organizations that they were engage in as students.”
Courtney Byer echoes this sentiment; since joining the YAAB, one of her goals has also been to bring alumni back to Northeastern.
“It is really important to get young alumni together and really connect themselves and their networks back to Northeastern,” she said. “As Young Alumni Advisory Board members, we serve as connectors; we have a presence at alumni events, we network and engage alumni, and we stay informed about the latest and greatest happening at Northeastern so that we can share this information with others.”
Courtney is a CAMD alumna, Communication Studies, who recently wrapped up a job at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as a Global Marketing Senior Coordinator for Health Care and started a new one at a company called Projector PSA. In her new role as Marketing Specialist, she will draw from her experience at BCG, where she worked for four years and where she held her third co-op position.
As a BCG co-op, she was on the North American Marketing team, managing client conferences and round-tables. She stayed on that team full-time after graduation, and recently switched to a global role, where she does the global marketing for BCG’s different sectors of healthcare.
“The switch to a global position has been super interesting,” said Courtney. “I now have the opportunity to work with different local markets that have diverse ideas about how to go about doing things. It’s a chance to really communicate across the world.”
Her first co-op was at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where she worked on all of the donor events – and had the opportunity to go to the famous 4th of July Boston Pops concert. For her second co-op, she moved to New York City and worked as the Special Events Coordinator at Viacom, the global mass media company, where she helped with the planning and execution of more than 20 events including premiere parties, executive dinners, and the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.
During her time as a student, Courtney was also very involved with the Northeastern University Figure Skating club team, serving as the group’s president for her last two years.
“The team has grown so much since the time I started,” she said. “I really tried to focus on building a team spirit, so that everyone felt like they were coming together out on the rink. The team presidents after me really took advantage of the momentum, and it’s so exciting to see where things are now.”
Courtney has learned a lot about leadership from serving as the Figure Skating club team president, gaining work experience on co-op, and now, continuing to strengthen and grow her career.
“When we listen to strong leaders, we learn something different each time,” she concluded.
The YAAB has been working on a series of events to engage the Northeastern community and beyond. The most recent one was Calling All Career Changers on April 23, which was a panel of Northeastern alumni – from different industries and educational backgrounds – discussing why they decided to switch industries. For those who were unable to join, they livestreamed the panel to share the phenomenal stories. Check it out! Thank you to Sydney, Courtney, and all of the alumni on the Young Alumni Advisory Board; your work means so much to the university!