7 questions for a QU alumna

Jenny Connell

Junior and senior communications students at Quinnipiac University gained valuable career information during last week’s mentor dinner planned by Associate Dean of Career Services for the School of Communications Jennifer Burns. Students who signed up for the mentor program were matched up in the beginning of the semester with alumni in the same field of interest to create a mentor-mentee bond. I was able to ask my own mentor, Alicia Staffa ’08, some of the tough questions that students are now facing as they enter internships and the job search.

Q: What suggestions would you give to students who have an interview for an internship coming up?
A: I think the most important thing is to be prepared. Do your research; make sure you know what kind of company they are and what position you are applying for. I would also say that you need to be focused and calm. Be yourself and show them how much you are ready to take on the challenging position of being their intern.

Q: What advice would you give students who are freshmen and sophomores looking to start building their resumés?
A: The more experience you have, the better a resumé looks. Joining The Chronicle, writing for the yearbook … anything that will get you clips is a must. Any extracurricular activity will work to your advantage. I was a member of AMICI (the Italian club), as well as editor for the newspaper and writer for the yearbook. I think you need to push yourself and challenge yourself, but don’t get overwhelmed. It is better to do three activities at 100 percent than six activities at only 50 percent each.

Q: As a 2008 graduate, how is the job search process for you?
A: It is a bit difficult right now. After working for more than a year then being laid off, things are a bit tough. There are a lot of well-qualified journalists out there in the same position as I am in, so the competition is brutal. My advice for handling this economy is to get your foot in the door with freelance. Freelance has kept me afloat in the journalism world.

Q:  How does someone start ‘networking,’ and building connections?
A: Networking is VERY crucial in journalism. I also think it is a bit difficult to get started. The mentor program is a great beginning. Your internship is also another outlet. Keeping contact with everyone you meet is your best bet. Whether you meet them at an interview, a workshop, the mentor program, or from a friend who says “Oh, my friend is the editor at X magazine, would you want to talk with her,” [network yourself]!

Q How does someone go about networking?
A: Take every opportunity that is available to you. Do not be shy. Do not feel like you are pestering. Be interested and be persistent.

Q: Are there any job search websites that have been really valuable in your job search?
A: Yes, there have been many. Here are a few: Mediabistro.com, journalismjobs.com, monster.com, jobster.com, ed2010.com. Also, I think everyone in journalism should visit Linkedin.com and start building a profile page. A lot of my networking has been through Linkedin.

Q: At the mentor discussion, did you hear something that struck you that you never heard before or that you will try out? Why?
A:  Nothing I have never heard before, but something that definitely stuck out. I cannot emphasize enough how much networking is important. Also, I think that sending your resumé every time you change something on it or revise it is a good tip. In this economy, employers are getting tons of resumés, and you need yours to stand out. Never think they just threw your resumé away. Sending a resumé to someone, even if that position has already been filled, might be the opportunity you need because it is possible that they will send your resumé along to someone they know.