Joe La Puma has always been interested in sneakers, music and pop culture. Since graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2005, he has turned that interest into a full-time job as the Vice President of Content Strategy at Complex Media, where he hosts a weekly video show called “Sneaker Shopping.”
In La Puma’s junior year of college, he didn’t know what to major in and was starting to worry. Eventually, one of his professors told him he should consider a journalism major, due to his interest in pop culture and entertainment news.
La Puma declared the major and began taking traditional journalism courses, where he learned to write journalistically and reported on Willimantic and Mansfield. By his senior year, he was writing more culture-related stories and had joined the Focus section — now called the Life section — of The Daily Campus.
At The Daily Campus, La Puma mainly wrote reviews, including a review of Jay-Z’s documentary “Fade to Black,” he said. By the end of his senior year, he had been promoted to the position of staff writer.
“That [promotion] still means something,” La Puma said. “The industry has changed, but there’s constants in that feeling that never get old.”
After graduating, La Puma became manager of a Finish Line sneaker shop he had been working in since he was 16, and would intern two days a week at Complex magazine.
“I went in to the interview for the Complex internship, and there was a stack of resumes, and I thought ‘I’m never going to get this,’” La Puma said. “Two weeks later, they called me and said I got the job. And for two years, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I was commuting from my house in Long Island to the city, while also working at the sneaker store.”
Eventually, La Puma was promoted, and became the first online editor of Complex.com. He has held several roles within the company, including writer for the magazine, where he did 20 cover stories and video work.
“As media and publishing was changing, I adapted the roles to where I fit into this organization to fulfill the needs of what the company needed at the time,” La Puma said.
Eventually, La Puma became the host of “Sneaker Shopping,” a show that started with a one-off video and turned into a weekly series where he interviews celebrities and takes them sneaker shopping.
Some of La Puma’s favorite Sneaker Shopping interviews include Kevin Hart, Cristiano Ronaldo and 50 Cent.
“During my time at UConn, I was obsessed with 50 Cent, staying up on his music and his clothing line and every move that he made. Everyone who went to college with me knows that I was obsessive about following his success, and he was the biggest thing at the time,” La Puma said. “I got him on the show, early on, and that was one of my favorites because it was nostalgic for me.”
La Puma looks back fondly on his time at The Daily Campus, he said, and even works with Adam Caparell, one of The Daily Campus’ sports editors during his time at UConn.
“Him and I probably spoke two words when when we were both at The Daily Campus, and now we work together and we’re really close,” La Puma said. “It’s a full-circle moment. It’s really cool to me.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.