By Ali Eaves, ‘11

It all started with a Facebook message.

Kimberly Leonard, a 2009 Richmond graduate working as a freelance journalist in New York, contacted fellow alumna Kaitlin Yapchaian, ’04, to inquire about her prior experience at NBC. Leonard had found out about Yapchaian’s work experience on the social networking site LinkedIn.

Before she knew it, Leonard had snagged one of the most coveted positions in the communications field: a position at Vogue magazine. She immediately began work helping to launch the magazine’s first iPhone application, “Vogue Stylist.”

Yapchaian, who is a marketing producer on the publishing side of Vogue, had been looking for someone to work with her on the project, and Leonard was the perfect candidate. 

“Kimberly reached out to me around the time that we were looking for an intern to join our team,” Yapchaian said. “I was impressed by her accomplishments and professionalism. While I was happy to talk to her about NBC, I asked if she’d be interested in applying for a position at Vogue.”

Leonard and Yapchaian worked together for a month setting up the app and making sure it was functional to prepare for the launch.

“We've worked very hard, but it’s a great team and it’s been a lot of fun,” Leonard said. 

Being part of cutting-edge new media launches, not to mention working long hours to meet deadlines, is nothing new for Leonard. She helped design and develop The Collegian’s award-winning Web site as the online managing editor when she was a senior at Richmond. 

“Helping launch The Collegian Web site was the greatest contribution I think I could have made to the University,” said Leonard, who majored in urban practice and policy and minored in journalism. “That experience prepared me more than anything for what I do now.” 

Leonard also had internships at Time and In Style magazines in what would have been her junior year at Richmond; she took the year off from school and moved to New York to get some real-world experience. She took summer courses and 18-credit semesters so she could still graduate on time with her peers.

Practical experience also helped Yapchaian land her job at Vogue.

A studio art major at Richmond, Yapchaian always preferred hands-on work to theoretical learning approaches.

Focusing on design and photography, Yapchaian had a sound set of technical skills by the time she graduated. She also worked as a producer for Nike at the advertising agency R/GA, as a business consultant at Play and as a page at NBC. Her studies in journalism at Richmond were crucial to appreciating and developing clear, concise writing.

“All of my experiences have shared a common thread of media, technology, creative thinking and communication skills,” she said. “Today, the lines between industries are blurring, especially when involving digital endeavors. I’ve been able to transfer the skills from each job to the next, despite working across television, consulting, advertising and now, publishing.”

As the communications field evolves and the digital world becomes even more fast-paced, being proactive about job searches is more important than ever – but the rules are changing. Leonard not only used social networking sites, but also had her own Web site where she posted her résumé and links to her work.

“You just need to constantly tap into the UR alumni network,” Leonard said, “because you never know what will present itself.”

Online networking is now even easier for Richmond students with the launch of the Career Development Center’s UR Career Network, a site for alumni, students and employers. Users can explore industries, seek out internships and jobs and learn about each other’s career paths.

Download the “Vogue Stylist” app