By Emily Study, SOC Website Reporter
Several alumni have proven that keeping an open mind, being receptive to conversations and networking with recruiters can land any student the job.
And as many School of Communication (SoC) students know, it’s all about networking. So with about 50 employers attending the SoC Career Fair Tuesday, Feb. 5, students will have plenty of opportunities to network their way into a job or an internship like the alumni who have done it before them.
“There aren’t many times or opportunities that you get this caliber of professionals all in one place,” said Cheryl McPhilimy, director of internship and career services for the SoC. “There are a lot of good jobs and positions that are at companies that maybe you’ve never heard of. [By attending the Career Fair], you’re exposing yourself to things that might really be up your ally.”
December 2012 graduate Abby Kleckler attended last year’s SoC Career Fair and earned two internships after meeting with recruiters. “I knew I needed at least one internship for the summer, so I figured I would go and check it out,” said Kleckler, who graduated with a degree in Journalism. “I figured even if I weren’t going to walk out with anything, I should go.”
After looking at the list of Career Fair employers on the SoC website, Kleckler narrowed down her search to a few key companies to check out. However, as often happens, the two companies that offered Kleckler summer internships were not even on her radar.
She was hired as a Chicago Tonight intern for WTTW Chicago Public Media and as an editorial intern for Cars.com, a company Kleckler said never crossed her mind. “I knew nothing about cars, but it sounded like a good opportunity,” she said. “They just wanted someone who could write.”
As many alumni advise, Kleckler said it is important to keep an open mind when going to the Career Fair. “Make sure to talk to [companies] even if you don’t think it’s somewhere you want to work.”
Alumna Monica Harris, who graduated in 2011 with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations, attended an SoC Career Fair and spoke with recruiters from Groupon, an employer she had initially overlooked.
“I had no intention of talking to Groupon,” Harris said. “The only thing I had heard about them was … that they were looking for salespeople.” However, Harris said when she walked passed Groupon, a recruiter stopped her and told her about a job opening for graduates in the field of Public Relations. After talking to the recruiter, Harris said she became interested in the position.
“The Career Fair was a few months before I graduated, so I set a calendar reminder for myself and sent [the recruiter] an email once a month following up with her,” Harris said. “Then, in mid-April, I reached out to her again and said it was close to my graduation and I asked her if we could talk more formally about the position.”
After a phone and an in-person interview, Harris was hired as a planning coordinator and started working at Groupon five days after graduating. “Never turn down a conversation, because you never know what [recruiters] might have in their back pocket for you,” Harris said.
Other graduates had similar experiences at the SoC Career Fairs.
Alumna Beth Kempton attended the Career Fairs and, like other alumni, never knew that she would work full-time for one of the employers she met.
After graduating in December 2011 with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations, Kempton was hired at the PR firm, Walker Sands Communications, in March as a media relations specialist.
“I initially heard about Walker Sands from the Career Fair my sophomore year, which first piqued my interest in the company,” Kempton said.
Although Kempton did not specifically attend the Career Fair to meet with Walker Sands, she networked and spoke with recruiters from the company anyway.
She advised current students, “There might be some companies that you might not necessarily plan on speaking to, but by keeping an open mind, you can hear about future opportunities.”
Later, after receiving an email about a job posting at Walker Sands from Herb Ritchell, the internship coordinator and program director of Advertising and Public Relations, Kempton applied for the position.
“I already knew about Walker Sands so when I went to apply for the job, I didn’t have to do as much research,” Kempton said. “It helped me at the interview know what I was talking about. Also, since I had first met Walker Sands a few years ago [at the Career Fair], I had followed them on Facebook and Twitter, so I was familiar with the company in that way.”
By first meeting with Walker Sands at the Career Fair, Kempton was able to remain connected and in touch with the company.
Similarly, alumna Erin Jordan said she first heard of Walker Sands by attending the SoC Career Fairs.
“Even after [I had] internships, I thought that the Career Fair was helpful,” said Jordan, who graduated in May 2012 with degrees in Advertising and Public Relations and Psychology. “It was important to say hi to other internship advisors I had and also to Walker Sands; putting those connections back together before I graduated was really helpful.”
Jordan first received an unpaid spring semester internship from Walker Sands. Soon after starting, though, it was extended to a paid internship and later a full-time job as a media relations specialist.
Although Jordan did not directly receive her internship with Walker Sands from the Career Fair, she said the fair helped her network her way to the job.
“You don’t want to pass up a company if it could benefit you down the road,” Jordan said.