Elon alums offer eye-opening perspectives on post-graduate success in the communications field

14 Feb

     Yesterday afternoon, I attended the first program of Elon University’s Professional Discovery Week- How to Win Friends & Influence Your Career! This panel discussion involved four School of Communications alumni sharing their strategies for success in their respective industries. Ross Wade, Assistant Director of Career Services for the School of Communications, oversaw the interview session featuring Bettina Johnson, a digital editor and online community manager at Pace Communications, Maggie Landy, a field publicity and promotions assistant at Fox Searchlight Pictures, Alexa Milan, an education and features reporter for the Sanford Herald, and Stephen Herbster, a video editor with the Carolina Panthers. Each speaker provided valuable insight into how to effectively transition from Elon to the real world. These graduates spanned nearly two decades, which sparked engaging dialogue between the panelists with their multitude of background experiences in the communications field.

     Over the course of an hour and a half, eager juniors and seniors listened to the speakers’ advice on preparing for informational interviews, proper interview etiquette and tips for job hunting. They emphasized the importance of making and maintaining connections with personal contacts, including professors, former colleagues, current supervisors and industry professionals. Also, they mentioned the value of networking with alumni who may be working in companies or careers that could be of interest to you. LinkedIn is a valuable tool to showcase individual’s talents, professional experience, accomplishments and recommendations. Social media engagement was also discussed because it is a simple, efficient way to keep up-to-date on company and industry news.

     I found the question and answer session between panelists and students to be very beneficial because the alumni described the steps they took to get where they are now and offered words of wisdom on how to succeed in the workforce. All of the panelists utilized career services during their time at Elon, participated in mock interviews, and completed multiple internships, which gave them an edge over fellow job-seekers. This session was very informative, and I gained some insider knowledge into how to properly prepare for the unexpected career opportunities that arise upon graduation. I imagine that a lot of seniors are under significant pressure and stress to find a job, earn a substantial living, and make something of their lives.

     Fortunately for me, I am technically a junior, who will be graduating a semester early, so I still have time to navigate the job market and hopefully find a position that will provide a personally rewarding and challenging learning experience. One of the panelists noted that learning does not stop in the classroom; it continues on throughout your career. I never considered the fact that my academic knowledge and skill set will only be enhanced and reinforced in the future. Some of the advice that especially stood out to me included:

  • Emphasize your strengths. Don’t boast, but openly express accomplishments.
  • Be willing to continuously learn, be open-minded to challenging situations, and be receptive to feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Despite how good or bad your day is going, always act professional. Be enthusiastic about your job. Be fortunate to have a position.
  • Proficiency in all forms of communication is key. You must be an adept verbal, interpersonal and nonverbal communicator.
  • Do your research before interviewing. Be informed about latest achievements, newest initiatives, past awards, etc. of the company.
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