By Mike Lauterborn
Fairfield, CT – Though most were not long out of school, the advice that Sacred Heart University alumni offered seniors who are about to graduate was sound and had been earned through trial and error.
Four Communication and Media Studies graduates took the stage at Schine Auditorium on the university’s 5151 Park Ave. campus Wednesday evening April 13 to speak about their experiences in the current workplace and to offer guidance on landing work in the communications field. About 75 people attended the Alumni Roundtable and Senior Night, as the session was titled, including other past alumni, seniors and campus community members.
“This is part of our ongoing effort to stay connected to our alumni and build a strong and loyal SHU network for our graduates in an industry in which networking is vital to success,” said Sara Ross, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Dept. of Communication and Media Studies, the event coordinator.
Student Erica Lucca, 21, who will graduate in May, hoped to gain insights that would confirm she was on the right path. “I sat through four years of media studies and four internships,” she said, “and I feel like I’ve done everything right up to now, but I just want to see what it’s like on the other side of the fence. My major gives me some lateral flexibility to explore a few directions.”
Steve Armato, 22, another May ’11 graduate, concurred. “I want to see what people have done after college, how hard it may be to get a job and what it’s like in the real world. I plan to pursue filmmaking or screenwriting,” he said.
Panelist Dan Nevanpara (’10), an associate producer and editor for PDH Creative in Malibu, CA, offered, “Everyone says do internships, but you have to stand out. Don’t kiss up, but do more.”
Genevieve Manna (’10), another panelist, related her experience of landing a job as an assistant at W magazine, but then getting let go. She was able to move over to Vogue then Allure, after being persistent and patient. “Surprises come,” she said. “You have to keep going, don’t ever lose hope applying to a job.”
Panelist Alex Bente (’06), now a producer for Showtime Sports in New York, said making connections was key for him. “Send your resume to anyone and everyone,” he said, “and keep in touch with people. Mostly, keep your dreams big.”
Lacey Gilleran (’10), who rounded out the foursome, has gone back to school to pursue a masters in journalism, but has worked at World Wrestling Entertainment as a production assistant then commercial associate director, traveling all over the country for live tapings. She said her classes had prepared her well for the workplace and advised, “Pay your dues, but don’t get taken advantage of.”
Featured panelists were not the only alums with a good word or two. Theresa Campbell (’10), a digital advertising coordinator at Reed Exhibition suggested, “Teach yourself whatever you can, and be persistent.”
Tom Herles (’10), a movie reviewer, said, “If there’s something you want to do, go for it.”
Veteran alumnus Carol Aucella (’78), who said she had made a successful living in the film history field, recommended, “Don’t ever say you don’t know what you’re doing. Reach out to someone, figure it out.”
Paul Pabst, the producer for the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN and an SHU adjunct professor who will teach a sports media class next semester, gave advice on interviewing. “Look around the room and find something to comment on. Engage the person in conversation. People like to hire people they like. Be very cocky. It’s your job on the other side of the desk… you have to take it.”
Another veteran, Arlene Greene (’77), had an overall hope to share, which applied to any path in communications that graduates elected to follow. “You kids are our future,” she said. “Media holds a powerful voice. If you have that voice, practice honest journalism and media. Hold onto your ethics and morals.”