This week, we spoke with Mr. Michael Rodio ’08, Associate Digital Editor at Men’s Fitness.
Great Expectations
Not too long ago, Michael Rodio was in the same position as many of our current seniors; entering the last lap of his Academy career and being forced to confront the inevitable “What’s next?”
His immediate fate was set. As one of the top graduates of his class, he had earned a seat at the University of Notre Dame. But before he could truly discern his path, there were a few questions he knew he needed to answer.
“One thing…[Academy and college] students should know is that you really don’t need to answer that question of ‘what are you going to do with that major?'” said Rodio in a phone interview. At Notre Dame, he majored in Piano Performance and was often called to entertain such questioning. He found his answers by asking a new set of questions, which he recommends students and new grads ask of themselves.
Questions like “What kind of work do I enjoy doing,” or “what kind of work am I good at” can enable a student to better craft their educational journey. “More and more these days, the paths for these different industries are rapidly diversifying,” said Rodio. “It’s better to say ‘what problems do I want to solve?'”
While at Notre Dame, Rodio continued sharpening his writing skills, working for Note Dame Magazine and completeing minor studies in the Gallivan program for Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Those experiences would help fuel his journey to New York City, first in writing for NBC Universal, then soon after at Men’s Fitness.
Much Ado About Online Writing
In working for an online publication that reaches over 14.6 million readers each month, the challenge is constant.
As an Associate Digital Editor, Rodio’s main roles include writing up to three stories each day for online publication, editing stories for the monthly print editions, managing their social media accounts, and pitching fresh ideas to the editorial team.
His work has included conducting countless hours of research, keeping a close eye on changing best practices for media, and interviewing superstars like Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (pictured left) and U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team striker Sydney Leroux (pictured below).
The need to create useful articles and bring value to readers means staying proactive. “That kind of intensity and high expectations that CBA drilled into me with regards to writing…that was all very important, and remains to be important every single day,” says Rodio. Those same lessons learned, on style and grammar, verifying the sources you rely on, and also being confident in the work product, have carried over to his professional endeavors.
Likewise is the need to adapt. He emphasizes, “The most important skill that anyone can have, in any job, is the ability to learn quickly.”
“People assume that writing stories that read easy and sound good and flow…is easy,” he says. In reality, the ability to write well on any given topic in a fun, engaging way takes a series of different skills learned over time. Gaining that knack for engaging a demanding audience takes patience and persistence. “Always, always leverage what you’ve already learned,” says Rodio.
In reflecting on what the future may hold for his career in publishing and media, Rodio understands a need to remain vigilant and flexible as being of paramount importance. Keeping up with the curve, adapting to the next big media application, and always learning new ways to apply knowledge are the daily challenges he faces. But most importantly is the fact that he enjoys facing them.
Ode To A Lincroft Horse Farm
In looking back on his Academy days, Rodio recognizes a truly special power that exists on campus and within the campus community. “I can’t think of any other scenario where people will feel closer and more united in what they’re doing…” he said.
Whether it was in being united as a team in the quest for a state championship or united as a class for a punishing assignment, the environment at the Academy is something Rodio still seeks to recapture in his work and personal life.
Looking back on the CBA version of himself, he wishes he could better emphasize the importance of networking. “They [access to career opportunities, information, and the like] depend on your social ability and networking ability…so don’t discount a social interaction.”
A Plan For All Seasons: How The Academy Prepared Him
The world of online publishing is constantly changing, so a strong foundation in writing, researching and networking remains essential. Rodio notes that the sense of rigor you endure at the Academy is the perfect primer. In seeking out those new and exciting opportunities, students should be prepared for the work that comes with them.
“One thing I would want to emphasize, if you get some time, just take an industry–focused look at the jobboard at ESPN for example,” he recommends. “Look at what they demand from their employees, and the work that goes in to not just SportsCenter, but a live broadcast…” Understanding the demands and requirements of a potential interest or dream job is the first big step in actually getting there.
Likewise, recognizing the importance of a hierarchy (in a team, class, or organizational setting), making the effort to build camaraderie amongst your coworkers, and always answering to high expectations are all Academy fundamentals he’s seen have real-world applications.
“The best thing you can possibly be is to be really good at one or two things, and know enough to be dangerous in several different others,” he says.
“Take risks, don’t necessarily think that you’re locked to a to-do list.”
Connect With Michael Rodio
Rodio welcomes the chance to share experiences and recommendations to any students looking at schools, trying to select the right major, or trying to break into the world of creative media.