NOVA Alum Turns Hobby into Career

July 12, 2023

Sean Michael Shuman found himself as a caregiver for an ill family member after wrapping up his studies at NOVA. Even the best of us can be greatly impacted during such difficult times, and Sean was no exception.

Sean Shuman

This life experience had him rethinking his priorities, and that’s when he discovered his true career niche. Although he studied IT at NOVA, his new career is not exactly in that field. He has always loved writing, and now he is doing work that is feeding his soul.

Shurman currently freelances for, a subsidiary of Valnet Inc., a world leading media investment company. His reviews on movies, shows and games averages tens of thousands of readers per week. He does thorough research on trends, and accurately reports on the development phases of projects and how audiences engage with characters on the silver and golden screen.

We are excited to see this recent Nighthawk graduate continue to soar.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
I graduated from NOVA in 2022 and spent time tending to an ill family member. I ended up in a slump due to the stress of that. But for me this was about sacrificing for the sake of someone who needed me. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't have done anything differently.

I ended up landing my current job as a freelance content writer in the fall of 2022. Content writing is mostly self-explanatory. In my case, I am providing speculative pieces and other content based on television shows and film productions.

In a lot of ways, it doesn't even feel like working. I get paid to discuss why upcoming films are worth seeing or why current TV shows are so popular. I work for Movieweb and I write for HorrorGeekLife as a critic and columnist.

It's a lot of work, but it's fulfilling work that makes me feel satisfied and happy. There's a level of freedom and independence that I have never felt before in my work career. There's no set schedule. It's on you to assign yourself projects and complete them in a timely fashion.

I get to shine a light on films and television shows that may not get attention otherwise. I keep people informed about upcoming films and television shows and address themes and topics of new productions.

The skills I've learned at NOVA, specifically those relating to web development, allow me to format my writing to reach a wider audience. Getting as many eyeballs as possible on your work is important for you and the website you're writing for.

What brought you to NOVA?
I've used computers my whole life, so I figured I had the right mindset to pursue a career related to them. I must have made a wrong turn somewhere because nowadays, I write about movies and television shows instead.

I remember I was only months away from graduating from Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Va. when I realized that my job working at a retail store wasn't for me. Luckily, my family provided a safety net for me to pursue a degree at NOVA, where I could put my computer skills to use in a practical way.

What did you study at NOVA? 
My main program of study at NOVA was an A.A.S. in information systems technology. The curriculum is geared toward directly placing those who graduated from the program into the workforce. Because of this, I was able to accrue a variety of skills relating to the Linux operating system, web development, programming languages, database design and network design. I was able to graduate with a 4.00 GPA.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you've liked and friends you've met.  
I’ve had plenty of professors I was absolutely enthralled with. I had the luxury of taking two courses taught by John McNally, one before the pandemic and one after. His classes felt less like a lecture and more like having an interesting discussion. He had a great sense of humor and interesting personal anecdotes related to our subject, and he had an attention-grabbing presence both over Zoom and in person.

The Java course I took under Sherri Vaseashta was as informative as any good programming course ought to be. The film appreciation class I took at the Loudoun Campus gave me a deeper insight into filmmaking, from how they’re assembled to how you can interpret them.

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? 
If I've learned anything over the past few years, it's that you have to make sacrifices sometimes. For me, prior to the remote-learning transition in the spring of 2020, I had to find a way to get onto the various NOVA campuses without a vehicle. So, I took the bus. Sure, it was three hours round trip, but on the plus side, it was an opportunity to study and get some work done with minimal distractions.

Ultimately, what you get out of your NOVA experience will vary depending on how much you're willing to put into it.

Topics: featured article, student success