Four recent Fairfield University graduates sat before about 40 current students for an alumni panel hosted by Fairfield’s Spoon University club last night, Feb. 3, in the Aloysius P. Kelley Center.
“Spoon University is a community on campus for all things food! Whether you’re into marketing, writing, event planning or photography, we have something for you!” said Emily Goryeb, the Photo Director of Spoon at Fairfield. “For tonight’s event, we hope to show students on campus how unique our club is and how our amazing alumni have used their Spoon skills in their jobs today!”
The four panelists were David Buckley ‘17, Sean Ahern ‘19, Victoria Marano ‘18 and Lindsey DeMunno ‘18, who were all members and leaders of Spoon University at Fairfield during their time as undergraduates. Their personal stories and advice were catered towards students interested in media, marketing, sports and publishing.
The main points that the entire panel hit were about not getting discouraged in the job searching process and the importance of networking.
Marano, a coordinator at Viacom CBS, shared with a laugh, “I graduated without a job, and had a mental breakdown.”
Other panelists shared similar stories of graduating without a job lined up, but that reemphasized the point they were making that that is not only okay, but normal– particularly in the media and communication industries.
“Don’t give up,” Marano said. “Something will come up,” she continued.
Ahern, a researcher at CBS Sports, added to the importance of keeping your head up during that often stressful time, saying, “Keep persevering, and keep that positive mindset.”
The panelists acknowledged that this understanding that the process is difficult, but the fact that everything works out is one that is hard to see while you are experiencing the hardships.
“I wish I knew that’s it was okay that I was going to get rejected,” said DeMunno, a social media producer at Bankrate, Inc., in a reflection about her time immediately following graduation.
The panelists encouraged students to be open in their job searches, as you never know what you might learn, or when you will find a new interest or passion. That being said, they also urged the students in attendance to never settle for a job.
“Don’t be desperate for a job,” said Buckley, a social media customer experience specialist at Daniel Wellington.
“Don’t pigeonhole yourself into a job,” Ahern added.
In addition to that inspirational and encouraging advice, the panelists also gave students practical advice, mainly in the importance of networking, and networking properly.
Ahern focused on how helpful it can be to reveal to possible employers that you have a true passion for, or interest in, the job or field into which you are entering. He explained that this makes your resume come to life in a sense that rather than words, people can see determination and an eagerness to learn more.
Buckley suggested that students apply for jobs that require two to three years of experience because oftentimes the organizations and projects that students are involved with in college provide experience and skills similar to the ones necessary for the position of interest.
Overall, the panelists encouraged students to reach out to alumni and network.
“You can literally get a job by talking to somebody and then following up,” said Marano.
Following the panel, students approached the panelists in a more informal manner and took the opportunity they had to network with the alumni.
“Alumni love to give back to the University and provide opportunities for students to explore different careers and industries,” said Kimberly Nickolenko, director of career engagement in the College of Arts and Sciences. “The more opportunities they can get to practice their networking skills the better.”