The Department of Communication held a career and networking event at the Ocean First Bank Center on Wednesday, April 5. The event featured six Monmouth alumni panelists who discussed their jobs, tips for students, and knowing your worth in a career setting.
Panelists included Larissa Cardoza, Program Director at Integrity Continuing Education; Shimriya Richard, Senior Brand Communications Manager at Second Melody; Tara Ackaway, CEO at Social Wise Communications; Veronica Sanders, Senior Producer at Center City Film and Video; Don Povia, Marketing and Public Relations Director at BYB Extreme Fighting Series; and Mike Hildebrant, Senior Regional Continuity Manager at Townsquare Media.
Matthew Harmon, Ed.D., Specialist Professor for the Department of Communication, moderated the panelists’ discussion, introducing the topic of content creating as the first order of business.
“When COVID hit, everyone was pushing to move and create content online, so the internet was flooded with crap. There is a [difference] between putting up content and putting up content that will diversify and set you apart from others,” began Povia.
Povia explained how clients will often approach him seeking to become social media stars without the education about the platform to do so.
Similarly, Richard said, “Clients will come to my company and ask for a 60 or 30-second commercial, and they often want to replicate what they saw, so part of my job is to be a translator. So I meet with the clients asking who their primary audience is, what’s their budget, where do they want to see this go, and what’s the return on investment they are looking at.”
In addition to the discussion, students posed questions to the panelists. One student asked about work boundaries.
“Do what you must, get a job you love. Though COVID was terrible, it brought about remote working, benefiting many people. Remote working saves people gas and people can work in the comfort of their homes…,” Hildebrant explained.
Cardozo added, “You need to be happy, but you can’t buy [happiness]. You can make a lot of money, but you could also be miserable, so what is your job giving you regarding the quality of life?” She revealed that she had denied several job opportunities, despite them offering twice her current salary; according to Cardozo, her company recognized her as a human with a life outside her work.
Sanders concurred, saying that one should have the means to meet their basic necessities, but money is not worth it in the long term. “I love my current role, my team, and while I could work somewhere bigger, I wouldn’t. Do what you love, which makes your job much better.”
Students and faculty alike thought the career fair was a great success, especially considering the insight the alumni provided on topics regarding the workplace environment.
John Morano, MA, Professor for the Department of Communication, said, “I’ve been here since the first time Monmouth held the communication career fair; for me, it’s a huge deal when five out of the six panel members were students of mine, giving advice to students and then you realize you’re the oldest in the room which was not so great.”
“To see how motivated and happy people were to be there was a pre-covid moment,” he emphasized.
Leila Mehmedovic, a junior communication student, said, “I made genuine connections at the event. It was reassuring that when some of the alumni were in our shoes, they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their degree. They emphasized not to worry because life will take you wherever.”
Mehmedovic also elaborated on how people should know the difference between being exploited versus being an asset. “While you shouldn’t always be a person who says yes to everything, you want to show that you have drive and dedication.”
Mairead Spellacy, a freshman communication student, added, “I made many more connections than I thought I would; it was fantastic having professionals and professors all in one place to introduce myself formally and get to know my department.”
“The Communication Career Event was a joy to attend! Not only did students have the opportunity to hear from a panel of experts in their respective fields, but they also got to connect with alumni through a post-panel networking and internship fair. It was also lovely to see everyone come together in person. I enjoyed reconnecting with former students,” said Mary Harris, MA, APR, Specialist Professor for the Department of Communication and Journalism/PR Program Director.
Aaron Furgason, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of Communication, concurred, “I was very pleased with the information Communication Alums shared with current students about their post-graduation experience in their field of choice. I thought the advice given was excellent, and the connections they made with students will benefit both the slum and current students.”
Furgason likewise said that Monmouth’s Alumni Engagement and Career Development do an excellent job offering students many opportunities to connect with alumni throughout the academic term, and that it’s a student’s responsibility to attend to make the connections they need.
“I believe that it is current students’ responsibility to attend and engage with career events outside of their major because the employment information is universal across work fields. Just because you are a communication student does not mean you can’t learn a valuable job tip from a business alumnus,” he said.
Troy Fenton, a sophomore communication student, said, “It was informative seeing people having jobs that can potentially be us someday. There is a purpose to what we are doing at Monmouth, and that in some merit to the classes we all are taking.”