Alumni Spotlight: Kristen Bunk

From Intern to Assistant to Trevor Noah

Sometimes the position you land in is one you never considered. This maxim certainly applies to communication studies alumna, Kristen Bunk.  Her hard work destined her for a promising career, but she might not have imagined herself landing a job at The Daily Show as the assistant to Trevor Noah when she was a student at Montclair State University.

Bunk interned at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart her senior year of college—and it was the only internship experience she had. After it ended, Bunk continued to keep in touch with her supervisors; sending emails as a way to just to say hi, and offering her help on any projects they could use extra hand on. For Bunk, timing was everything. She graduated in May 2015 and in August Trevor Noah was set to take over as host of The Daily Show, and the position as his assistant was created.

Today, you can find Bunk running around, juggling a number of responsibilities. Bunk’s job is heavily focused on scheduling and coordination with the press, so she is responsible for Noah’s day to day schedule. In addition to her role as assistant to the host, Bunk also works with the talent department, which books and produces the guest segments for the show. “In July, we took the show on the road to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA which was an incredible experience,” says Bunk. “It was a big year with the election, the release of Trevor's first book Born A Crime, and several stand up tours so I was able to gain experience in various fields across the industry.”

Multitasking is nothing new for Bunk. During her time as an undergraduate student, Bunk was busy climbing the Student Government Association ladder, starting as a legislator and working her way to president, which has provided her with an invaluable set of skills.

“I’ve learned that most of your skills are acquired not when things go smoothly, but when obstacles are placed in front of you and you overcome them,” Bunk says. “I took a media management class my junior year and that opened my eyes to the importance of problem solving and strategizing, which arguably is 80 percent of my job.”

For students looking to enter the communication field, Bunk has some words of advice:

  • Interpersonal skills are invaluable and will take you far in the entertainment industry.
  • Never ever say “that’s not my job.” In production, your job isn’t always cut and dry. You have the opportunity to have your hand in a variety of pots, and it helps you understand the project you’re working on.
  • Be genuinely happy for other people’s success. Be authentic in your networking.
  • Ask for what you want and tell people about what you’d like to learn.
  • Express interest in shadowing people/departments you have interest in. Perseverance is everything and most things will come in time.
  • Don’t let the pressure of everyone else’s success deter you from staying on track for yours.
  • You can always learn and acquire a skill to do a job but it’s your character and work ethic that will land you the job in the first place.

“Above all, and this is most important, be positive. I believe where you direct your positive energy, it reciprocates. Express gratitude in your work and miracles can happen. Dreams do come true—that's why people still have them. And never let your degree define you. You are your experiences, and that is most valuable.”