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Alumni mentoring provides real-world tips for communication students

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Did you ever wonder what is wrong with your resume?  Or how to sell yourself entirely in an elevator speech? Sophomore and junior communication majors learned both of those skills and more through the department’s Alumni Mentoring Night on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Communications majors sitting roundtable during the event. (Jerry Zurek/Submitted Photo)

Communications majors sitting roundtable during the event. (Jerry Zurek/Submitted Photo)

The communication department hosts the mentoring event each year for sophomores and juniors in the department so students get the chance to participate twice.  The event is designed to help students improve their pitch and help them get the job upon graduating.

Ten Cabrini alumni from various sectors of the communication industry sit roundtable with three to five students and learn more about them.  Students prepare resumes for evaluation and have a chance to sell themselves with an elevator speech.  After the table-based portion of the night, everybody gets the chance to network with all of the alumni.  The networking opportunities are readily available and shouldn’t be passed up.

Recurring input from alumni was the idea of showing your personality, being prepared for anything and making yourself stand out.

“If you’re not sure what to do in life, find what makes you happy,” Sharvon Urbannavage, class of 2003, said. “Don’t look for opportunities: Make opportunities.”

Dr. John Cordes, associate professor of communication, said, “The event is great for several reasons. Speaking with the alums gives great perspectives on the varied professional paths their predecessors have taken.  The event also builds a sense of history of Cabrini and the communication department.”

Cordes wants students to get one thing out of the event: confidence.  In regards to what is most beneficial he said, “A realization of their own skills and potentials and their abilities to present those to working professionals.”

Another important pitch when it comes to interviews is “telling a story,” according to Sheila Doherty, class of 1996.  She described how anybody can list titles and job positions on their resume, but if one can tell a story or an experience and how you learned from it (whether it be good or bad), you will be one step further in the job application process.

Other key ideas from alumni were having a competitive differentiator, well-written and crisp cover letters/resumes and having a personality.

Nina Scimenes, class of 2006, stressed the importance of writing in the communications industry.  “Every interview you go on will start with a writing test.  They want to see how well you can write.”

Sophomores Cody Calise and Joey Rettino gaining insight from alumni.  (Jerry Zurek/Submitted Photo)

Sophomores Cody Calise and Joey Rettino gaining insight from alumni. (Jerry Zurek/Submitted Photo)

Another point brought up by Doherty was the S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result) response.  Many times in hiring processes, employers will ask a series of behavioral questions and the S.T.A.R. response is the way to go.  Many heads nodded in agreement.

“You could search the 50 most popular behavioral interview questions on Google and could possibly have between 5-6 answers for all of them,” Matt Campbell, class of 2006, said.

“I wasn’t sure how I felt upon hearing of the event since the only experience we had was professional development in our freshman year,”  sophomore communication major Erica Abbott said. “I was really glad I got the chance to network and hear more about the opportunities that could arise from it. The most beneficial thing from the event was having alumni from a wide range of interests.”

Abbott’s advice for freshmen? “Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself.  Not an easy thing, but it will help in the long run.”

Chris Nielsen, class of 2001, said it simply: “It’s all about knowing yourself.”

Paul Moser, class of 1999, summed up the night in one key idea. “Take advantage of what Cabrini can offer you,” Moser said. Ultimately, sophomore and junior communication students took one step forward [in relation to taking advantage] by attending the event.

About Dan Luner

Dan Luner is a sophomore communication major at Cabrini College. He is currently photo editor as well as a staff writer for The Loquitur. Dan also helps as an assistant coach for Cabrini's roller hockey team and spends his summers interning at Upper Darby Summer Stage.

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