Carrie Houlihan ‘09
English Major │ Literary Agent at Prospect Agency LLC
Carrie’s English major at Amherst was where her love of books transformed from a hobby into a potential career path. As an involved student on the Amherst campus and a Peer Career Advisor, she remembers sitting down at the Loeb Center, writing down what she loved to do, and “everything [she] wanted – from flexible hours to working with authors – and seeing what developed from there.” What developed, for Houlihan, formerly Carrie Pestritto during her time at Amherst, was a career in literary agency at Prospect Agency after two interim jobs after college at BusinessGhost and Writers House.
Coming out of Amherst, Carrie knew she ultimately wanted to end up in literary agency, but took a winding path to get there. Her first job was working for fellow Amherst alumnus Michael Levin ’80 as a ghostwriter for his company BusinessGhost, one of the most prominent ghostwriting agencies in the United States. From there, Houlihan took a position at the esteemed Writer’s House as an assistant, before landing her dream job as a literary agent at Prospect Agency in New York in 2011.
Carrie cites the dynamic nature of her position as the most important part of what she does, and why she remains so passionate about her job. “I can honestly say I love everything about my job”, raves Houlihan. Everything from her initial desire to work with authors, to realizing the final product from an incredible initial story, makes Carrie excited to go to work everyday. She emphasizes that her time at Amherst and her professors in the English major were invaluable in helping her “hone [her] critical reading and analytical skills”.
When asked about advice for Amherst students looking for a career in publishing and related fields, Carrie’s most important piece of advice is to intern. Houlihan herself had an array of internships while at Amherst, ranging from Writer’s House to Talter Magazine. She emphasizes that internships are how most of her colleagues – herself included – got their foot in the door and they can be helpful in deciding what kind of career you are looking for. Above all, however, Carrie’s advice was to “read”! Become familiar with the material you want to work with, and “be able to talk at length about recent books you've read and why you've loved or hated them.”
Jane Sung '04
French & English Majors │ Freelance Writer, Editor, Consultant
Jane took her experience from her first internship working with a movie production company, during which she helped create models of landscape settings for action movies, and used it to help build a successful career as an editor and freelance writer for a variety of publications specializing in fashion and lifestyle. During her time at Amherst, Jane double majored in English and French, served as the sports editor for The Amherst Student, played the piano, and dabbled in several of the club sports teams on campus. She credits Amherst’s open curriculum in allowing her to explore subjects and courses that may have seemed foreign or intimidating, but have influenced her life and her career in shaping a well-rounded education.
After realizing her interest in fashion editorial and magazine publishing, Jane took advantage of the Amherst alumni network to secure a series of summer internships at major publications including Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Biz, Nylon, and Marie Claire. Her first job out of Amherst was working as the Public Relations Coordinator and E-Commerce Manager for the French clothing brand, A.P.C. From there, Jane moved on to the editorial side of the fashion industry, acting as an editor in different capacities at Cookie, Oxygen Media, and Lucky magazine. Sung has enjoyed the room for exploration that her career path has allowed her, covering everything from fashion and beauty, to lifestyle and travel.
Today, Jane works as a freelance writer for publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Allure, People Style, and The New York Observer. She tells us that “a typical week can vary from day to day,” as much of her time is spent “doing research for stories, formulating pitches, conducting interviews, going to press previews and launch events, and consulting with brands on marketing strategy.” She has used the wide breadth of skills developed through her liberal arts education to interact with various facets of the communications industry.
Her advice to those looking to work in communications was to “get the most out of your time at Amherst by taking advantage of its open curriculum and trying new things. Once you have an idea of what you're interested in, start interning for companies in those fields.” She emphasizes making meaningful connections in any way possible, especially through the Amherst alumni network. “Alumni are willing to help each other out, whether in terms of advice or even an internship or job connection.”
Greg Cosell ‘78
History Major │ Producer & Writer at NFL Films
Growing up in Queens, NY, Greg Cosell was always on a team. A huge sports fan, Cosell played baseball and basketball on local teams until the time he left for Amherst, where he played three years of college basketball. The Political Science and American Studies double major used his team-oriented background to work as a counselor at a summer camp on Long Island, NY all three summers during his time at Amherst, and this experience working with youth led him to pursue a teaching and coaching position in Gross Point, Michigan after graduating Amherst in 1978. When the opportunity arose the next year to apply for an entry-level position at NFL films, Cosell jumped at it. Within a few weeks of applying, the NY native received a phone call from the founder of the company and was ready to begin work immediately. Greg has been there ever since, having recently finished his 37th season with NFL films.
Cosell’s crowning achievement with NFL is the creation and production of NFL Matchup, an NFL preview show that breaks down the game to X’s and O’s, giving fans an in-depth look at the strategy and tact behind professional football. Since the show’s conception in 1984, Cosell has managed, produced, and overseen the direction of NFL Matchup to help make it one of the most well-watched NFL preview shows on television. Beyond Matchup, Cosell appears nationally and locally in New York and New Jersey as on-air talent for various radio shows, as well as a weekly appearance during football season on the Colin Cowherd show on FS1. In the off-season, Cosell works closely with the NFL draft, studying and projecting college players’ ability to transition to the NFL.
The absence of a football background would have hindered many entering a position with the NFL, but Cosell sees the challenge as an exciting part of his work. “It’s really fascinating the way [football] is always evolving and growing and changing, and you have to be learning all the time to stay on top of it.” Cosell says that the writing and critical thinking skills developed at Amherst have been one of his biggest assets in working with NFL Films. The advice that Cosell shares with Amherst students is to figure out what you want to do and tailor your experiences toward that. He comments that industries are becoming deeply specialized, so the more you can learn about the field you’re interested in, the greater the opportunities to gain experience in that work will be.