Mariah Chinchilla

Less than two weeks after she walked on stage for Commencement to accept her BA degree in communications and media studies at Dominican in May of 2014, Mariah Chinchilla stepped onto a bigger stage. She is working for NBC Universal in New York City as a marketing coordinator.

“It’s just too perfect the way it is happening and I can’t be anything but grateful,” Chinchilla says.

Her good fortune is the product of hard work and persistence and it started during her freshman year at Dominican when she was encouraged to apply for an internship at NBC. She connected with Anne Nicholas, Vice President of Affiliate Marketing, who flew to San Francisco to interview Chinchilla then eventually hired her.

Chinchilla spent the first seven months at the start of her junior year at Dominican working for NBC. She was the liaison between network and local NBC affiliates responsible for coordinating On-Air talents – local and network – and distributing promotional video, graphics about NBC shows such as Saturday Night Live and Sunday and Thursday night football.

“I was working at 30 Rock the first day and didn’t even take a tour,” Chinchilla says. “It was a whole new world that I had no idea about.”

But Chinchilla was prepared. Since graduating from Dominican in May she has adjusted to her first big job in the Big Apple. In November of 2014, Mariah coordinated cross talks as well as on-air props for #Rokerthon and Rlast when weatherman Al Roker broke the world record for the longest weathercast (34 hours). Mariah, who was invited to Roker's celebratory dinner, also produced her own NBC promotional shoots with the network's television affiliates.

And this week, Mariah has helped plan and execute #Rokerthon 2, as the weatherman reports the weather in all 50 states in just one week's time, another world record. She has coordinated and organized custom promotional copy for all 98 television stations who are participating in the 50-states-in-one week weathercast.

Mariah is also working alongside with Dominican communications and media studies major Samantha Simmons '17, who is interning this semester at NBCUniversal in New York City.

“I am truly a different person here. Everyone is working as hard if not harder than you. You have to be the most resourceful, most sharp, the most productive self you can be,” she says. “I've had to work with professionals and have responsibilities and know exactly what I was doing.”

Her communication skills from Dominican have come in handy.

“I've really learned to talk and engage the people who are around me,” Chinchilla says. “I've learned to find my own answers.”

It was tough having to say good-bye to New York the first time after her internship ended. Yet Chinchilla was determined to finish her degree at Dominican in Communications and Media Studies and become the first in her immediate family to graduate from college. She returned to Dominican and took a colloquium class – Sense of Psychology and Place -- with Mairi Pileggi, director of the Gender Studies program, and psychology professor Lee Ann Bartolini. The class explored how location helps change one as a person.

The timing of the class as well as the result was perfect for Chinchilla.

“It was completely ironic how I was able to take that class and figure it all out,” she says.

Chinchilla engrossed herself into Dominican. She earned an internship with KQED and joined Dominican’s student broadcast team with the San Rafael Pacifics’ minor league baseball team last summer. She also participated in an Engaged Immersion Experience trip to El Salvador through Campus Ministry.

In addition, for her senior project, Chinchilla created a mock phone application, called Scenik, which connects users with a wide variety of outdoor events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Chinchilla took advantage of all networking opportunities at Dominican, while establishing bonds with fellow students, faculty and staff at the University who became her friends and advocates.

“Dominican has shaped me in so many ways that is so special and so true to this institution. You can’t get anywhere else and I’m just realizing that,” Chinchilla says. “After talking to people who have graduated from other colleges, I feel Dominican has a tangible sense of self and sense of character that you really feel here. There is such a tight knit community and the students you go to class with and the faculty who are fostering these classes are just true to themselves and so genuine.

“Being at a college and campus so rich in character made the difference for me.”

Then, in March of 2014, Chinchilla’s received a phone call out of the blue during her job at the Apple store in Corte Madera that impacted her career path. Anne Nicholas contacted her and encouraged her to apply for the marketing coordinator position at NBC Universal.  After a series of eight interviews by phone and Skype, Chinchilla was hired. She left for New York in June and started work at NBC Universal at 30 Rockefeller Plaza where she is training interns and has a permanent position in the bi-costal department. She sat in on a marketing meeting for The Today Show on her first day.

Chinchilla is in a New York state of mind again.

“This time is a lot different.  Last time I was ready to go and it couldn’t come fast enough,” Chinchilla says. “This time -- because I found a zone of comfortability at Dominican -- it’s a lot harder.  I’m very lucky and super excited but it’s harder to leave.  It’s a lot more permanent and it wasn’t something that I was planning for. But I know this happened for a reason, and I’m ready to grow.”