University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Business Alumnae Turns Her Passion Into an Exciting Career

Monday, April 4, 2016

Upon graduation from Pitt Business, Prachi Gupta (BSBA ’09/BA ‘09) began working for a management consulting firm, but quickly realized that she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to embrace her passion for writing.   Prachi Gupta traveled to Doha, Qatar to interview First Lady Michelle Obama about her global education initiative Let Girls Learn.

“It was a very risky decision, but I had no doubt it was the one for me,” she said.

As a self-motivated and determined young professional, Gupta dove headfirst into pursuing her dream in 2011. She set strict goals for herself including landing a writing-based internship and publishing multiple articles within one year. Gupta enrolled in improv, sketch comedy writing, and cartooning classes, and earned a series of freelance roles and unpaid internships. 

Gupta kept moving up. In 2012, after a brief internship at Gawker, she was hired to cover pop culture for Salon.com, a website that covers U.S. politics and current affairs. After two years, she left to serve as managing editor at ANIMALNewYork, a local art, news, and culture website. She left in July 2015, shortly before the site closed.

In September, she was hired as Cosmopolitan.com’s senior writer, where she focuses on politics and issues affecting young women for a monthly audience of 34 - 40 million visitors. In addition to spending her days writing, pitching ideas, and reaching out to sources, Gupta is constantly scanning social media and news headlines for stories that will resonate with the Cosmopolitan.com audience. “I love building on meaningful conversations happening around the world,” Gupta says about her role, which includes blogging, reporting, and writing commentary. “My favorite thing is hearing that something I wrote touched someone or helped them in some way.” 

Since embarking on her journalism career, Gupta has reported on the Sundance Film Festival, interviewed celebrities like Priyanka Chopra and Seth Meyers, and has offered commentary about race, gender, and politics on NPR, CNBC, and Al Jazeera America. But one of the greatest opportunities of her career came in November 2015, when Gupta traveled to Doha, Qatar to interview First Lady Michelle Obama about her global education initiative Let Girls Learn.

“Naturally, I was nervous ahead of meeting Mrs. Obama, and I was laser-focused on the task at hand. But when she came into the interview room, she started chatting and making small talk, and I just froze! I was prepared for everything except small talk,” Gupta said of the experience. Gupta recovered, and even took a selfie with the First Lady at the end of the interview. As part of her Middle East reporting, she also traveled to Jordan and reported on a family of Syrian refugees living in Amman without legal documentation and profiled a Palestinian refugee using street art to empower girls in her community. The pieces were also featured in documentaries for Cosmopolitan.com.

Gupta says her education at Pitt Business helped her transition to a journalism career. “So many business skills are critical to journalism. Writers who do well are the ones who meet deadlines, are consistent, have a good attitude, pay attention to details, are able to network, and, of course, are pleasant to work with. Increasingly, you have to understand analytics, social media, and tech because more and more journalism is happening on digital formats,” she said. 

Gupta is especially thankful for the guidance she received from Robert Atkin, clinical professor of business administration at Pitt Business.  

“Dr. Atkin saw something in me when I was a lost freshman, and he became a mentor throughout college. He encouraged a few Pitt Business students to enter the McKinsey Cup Competition in 2008, which until then was only open to graduate students,” she said. 

“My team won, and that experience helped me gain a lot of confidence and understand how things I was learning applied in the real world, and it also affirmed a lot of real-world lessons that you don’t learn in the classroom. By even being considered for the course, it also showed me how relationships can open doors and create new opportunities in places you don’t expect,” Gupta said. 

For the young professionals at Pitt Business who will soon be entering the workforce, Gupta has some advice. “Work hard, be kind, and may you always be self-aware enough that you never become a character from Office Space.”

Read Gupta’s reporting, commentary, and comedy by visiting her website http://www.prachi.co/