What happens when 102 communication studies students and six communication professionals gather together for a night of networking? Lots of communicating! West Chester University’s Association for Women and Men in Communications held its annual Communication Career Night on Tuesday in SchmuckerLecture Hall, hosting a panel discussion with professionals in advertising, conflict resolution, networking, public relations, event planning and journalism. The evening consisted of the six panelists discussing their careers, as well as giving tips to students on how to emulate their success. There was a Q&A session with the audience. The evening concluded with a networking social in which all of the panelists mingled with students, offering advice, business cards and internship referrals. That same evening. David T.Z. Mindich spoke with other students about the importance of being “in tune” with the media. Communication Career Night panelist Stephanie Lim Capello, Director of Development Events & Corporate Partners at The Philadelphia Zoo, shared the same philosophy. “Read as many newspapers as you can everyday,” Capello said adding that in the working world, current events are great conversation pieces and very good for networking. Networking is an essential skill for the communication studies major. Panelist Debbie Shupp, is the Executive Director of the Women’s Referral Network of Chester County. Her job is entirely about networking. “You refer clients and that’s how you get jobs,” said Shupp.
Shupp explained to students that they must be able to do a “thirty second commercial” of themselves. A thirty second commercial consists of telling “who you are, what your business is, and what kind of business you are looking for,” said Shupp. “Internships are a really key thing,” said Capello. “Don’t be afraid to just ask; the worst thing they can say is no. Take as many interviews as you can.” “Be relentless,” said panelist Corey Dissin, Vice President and General Manager of Propulsion Media Labs. “Be nosy… eavesdrop.” He told a story about listen–ing to another student in his class at Temple who often spoke of the radio station at which he worked. Dissin found out what station that was, called them, and was offered a position for the Sunday morning 5 a.m. show. “Talk to your professors,” Dissin advised. “Your road is paved by the good word of others.” Shupp advocated volunteer work. “You never know where your next job is coming from,” she said.
Dissin noted that straight Astudents aren’t always the first pick of a recruiter, but rather the interviewee that is most memorable. You have to be the one “willing to run through a brick wall while lit on fire,” said Dissin. “Demand an interview, pleasantly, [and] be dynamic in the interview,” Dissin said. “Make a scene in a good way.” As for making a resume stand out, Dissin said, “Get the fluff off of it.” If a student waited tables, he would rather the applicant just say it. Shupp recommended taking a job that has less pay but is interesting.
The same goes for unpaid internships. All of the panelists said that the internships their companies offer are “for credit” and are not paid. Panelist Natalie Smith, Features Editor and Assistant Managing Editor of The Daily Local News recommended journalism internships because “you will have proof of what you’ve done… [interns] have clips which are as good as gold.” “You can go any place if your clips are good,” said Smith. She related a story about an intern from France who came to The Daily Local News and is now writing for a newspaper in Morocco. “There’s a lot of grunt work to be done,” Capello said about internships. But, she continued, “I wouldn’t ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”
Capello said that there’s always a lot of busy work, which could even include stuffing envelopes: “It’s not pretty because my job is not pretty.” Dissin added that, “We don’t sugarcoat.” He said that on a lot of interviews he actually tries to talk people out of wanting to work for his company, to see if they can handle it. “We only give you what you ask for… if you speak up. Be the squeaking wheel,” Dissin said. He said that all interns have great opportunities, but that they must earn them, they are not entitled to them.
The other panelists of the evening were Tim Farrell, Director of Communications for the Philadelphia Soul, and Diera Shaw, Conflict Resolution Specialist in Small Group Communication. Panelist Marie Thibault, Advertising Consultant from Partners Advertising, Inc. was not able to make the event. Following Communication Career Night, the Association for Women and Men in Communication will be taking their annual New York City trip, which is scheduled for the weekend of April 8-9.