Melissa Steffan

Web Developer for The Washington Post

Washington D.C.

Class of 2012, Communication: Journalism Track and Political Science majors


Steffan is a web developer for the Arc Publishing team at The Washington Post in Washington, D.C. She helps journalists and editors from publications around the world tell their stories more effectively by offering them a platform on which to build functional, beautiful websites. When she is not at work, Steffan teaches beginner programming classes with General Assembly, as well as volunteers as a mentor for junior developers seeking their first role in the industry.

How does your time at SPU connect to what you’re doing today?

SPU helped my love of journalism flourish. If I hadn’t attended SPU, I wouldn’t have had had the courage or, possibly, even the opportunity to come to D.C. as a senior, intern at the Post as a reporter, and fall in love with this amazing city. During my time as an editor at The Falcon, I realized I loved editing much more than I love reporting — a realization that I fell back on last year when I decided to change careers and become a web developer instead of a journalist. There are so many reporters who love chasing stories and investigating the news; my big passion is to help tell those stories better.

Which SPU faculty or staff member made a difference in your education?

Dr. Rick Jackson from the Communications Department offered me endless support throughout my years at SPU. First, as a sophomore, I debated even accepting a role as an editor of The Falcon, but he convinced me to learn and grow from the other staff members. When I led The Falcon as editor-in-chief during my junior year, Rick was present for countless late nights of newspaper production and guided us toward ethical and honorable news judgments. I’m proud of the stories we told and the news we broke that year. Most of all, though, Rick encouraged me to study in D.C. as a senior, when I didn’t think I’d be brave enough to do it. He supported me as I completed my honors project from across the country before graduation. I wouldn’t be here —in D.C., working at The Post — if it weren’t for Rick Jackson.

What advice would you give to current SPU students?

Upon graduation, the world feels so big; just know that it doesn’t have to make you feel small. You are uniquely qualified to make a difference and to have the career you want — regardless of where or what that is.