ONLY days into a new job at CNBC two and a half years ago, Erin Burnett was settling into orientation when the network decided to put her on camera.
Viewers and executives of the cable business channel took note, and within weeks, Ms. Burnett started her first big assignment, contributing to "Squawk on the Street," a new morning program. Just weeks later she was a co-anchor of the program with Mark Haines, a veteran anchor who had been at CNBC since its founding in 1989.
A series of other high-profile assignments followed, including a 2 p.m. solo hour, appearances on NBC's news programs and the expansion of her morning program to a second hour. Today, at 32, Ms. Burnett is the youngest person on television to anchor three hours of business news every weekday.
"She's the ultimate growth stock," said Jonathan Wald, CNBC's senior vice president for business news.
Ms. Burnett's meteoric rise is the most recent example of how television networks try to transform fresh-faced hosts into household names with all the perks -- and hazards -- that sudden celebrity entails. And Ms. Burnett's "overnight success" isn't an accident. Competing with the Internet and the fledgling Fox Business Network, CNBC has been trolling for new stars, and the network has meticulously managed and promoted Ms. Burnett's ascent.