University of Connecticut alumni made one thing clear Tuesday night: landing “the job” is all about networking, networking and networking.
“I’m going to be the networking guy tonight, the networking is so important because you don’t know where these things are going to come from,” Cody Carver, a senior research analyst at Ipsos Connect said. “Let your circle know you're looking for opportunities and get your foot in the door.
While Carver, one of four panelists who spoke at “Exploring Careers in Communications and Marketing,” admitted that networking can often feel contrived and calculated, he felt it doesn’t have to be that way. He suggested students contact potential employers for informational interviews to get an inside perspective on the marketing industry.
“That’s always a great way, to not only make a connection, but to learn a lot about different things,” Carver said. “You’re there to learn, they’ve there to teach and they don’t mind seeming wise for a little bit.”
And it might even lead to a job down the line, Carver added.
Stephen Lanzit, a sales executive for the payroll company ADP, urged students to take advantage of every interview they’re offered, even if they don’t actually want the job. Interviewing is an acquired skill, he said, so going through the process when there isn’t a job on the line can be a great experience.
“I took every interview I could get, even positions I didn’t necessarily want, because it was an opportunity to perfect that skill,” Lanzit said.
Lanzit, who graduated from UConn in 2009 as a communications major, also encouraged recent college grads not to rush into their first job.
“My first job out of college was something that I didn’t want to do,” Lanzit said. “I was so eager to come out of UConn with a job in hand, and if I would have waited, that position at ADP might have opened up even sooner.”
Even when you do land a job in your field - like Amanda Falcone, now a communications specialist for the Capitol Region Education Council, did – there are plenty of twists and turns down the line. While Falcone started off as an education and politics reporter for a local paper before moving to the Hartford Courant, she eventually transitioned to a career in public relations.
Whether in the newsroom or in Senator Chris Murphy’s office, Falcone said persistence was key. She applied to write for the Hartford Courant every couple of months over a few years, and in the end, it paid off.
“Don’t be afraid to apply for the jobs you aspire to, apply and apply and apply,” Falcone said. “You never know when something’s going to open up.”
While all four alumni panelists agreed that their liberal arts educations prepared them to compete in the fields of marketing and communications, landing a job is about more than a piece of paper. Jay Sloves, who co-founded his own strategic marketing firm, said he cares more about a candidate's thought process than their experience.
“When people come in to interview with us, I don’t look at the resume. You’re 21 years old, you don’t have a Noble Prize or anything, I’m looking to see how you think,” Sloves said.
For all the interviews, applications and missed networking opportunities, though, sometimes the biggest obstacle to pursuing the career of your dreams is all in your head. When Lanzit was still a communications major at UConn, he said his friends used to joke about his useless liberal arts degree. Today, he puts his public speaking skills to use by managing a team of over a dozen people at a job he loves.
“You want to get into a profession and a career that you enjoy,” Lanzit said. “Often times, people mock sales professions and they say ‘oh, that’s not a real job, you solicit people all day,’ but that’s not true whatsoever. I think I use my brain every day more than almost anyone in any profession.”
“Exploring Careers in Communications and Marketing” was sponsored by the Center for Career Development and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The panel was hosted by Matt Fraulino, assistant director of Alumni Relations for the UConn Foundation.
Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.