Your Alma Mater Connections Matter


For some, the word is daunting; for others, it’s making new best friends. Everyone realizes at some point that it’s time to start his or her career and is suddenly hit with a feeling of the unknown. Although the biggest answer is right in front of most individuals, many don’t utilize the treasure that is right under their noses: their Alma Maters.

Reaching out to alumni, professors and career services are some of the strongest ties people have once they begin their job hunts. Don’t forget, there are higher education employees looking to provide you with the best tools possible and get you on the road to success.

If there’s one thing you should know about PAN Communications, it’s that we have a HUGE Syracuse University family walking our halls. I am a 2012 Master’s graduate and am proud to share “Orange blood” with a large group within the office. This past week, SU brought to Boston “Success in the City,” a program providing current students and alumni the opportunity to network in the city where they live and work. Having attended this program for three years now, I have watched students grow from seeking guidance to giving advice. When I asked them for their top networking and job hunting techniques, all noted it was all about reaching out to fellow Orangemen. No matter what your mascot, try and take advantage of all your school has to offer.

Here are some testaments to utilizing your school connections to get you in the right direction:

Philip Nardone, CEO; Alma Mater: Syracuse University

My alma mater has one of the most active alumni organizations in Boston and in our industry. I’m always willing to send a PAN employee to anything ”Orange.” Inevitably, whoever attends come back with resumes, business cards, etc. that we either hire or partner with.

Jenny Gardynski, Senior Associate; Alma Mater: Stonehill College

My first internship, while enrolled at Stonehill College, was in the marketing/PR department of a local hospital. My journalism professor helped me secure the internship by connecting me with her former colleague who was managing that department. This internship gave me the skills and references to secure a post-college internship at a PR agency. Before taking that on, I consulted my former PR professor from Stonehill for advice. I had also visited the Career Services department at my college to revise my resume. Today, I’m still in touch with my professors through an Alumni Facebook group, where now I am the one posting job opportunities to recruit fellow alums to join PAN!

Sara Guzzone, Senior Associate; Alma Mater: Syracuse University

Newhouse frequently hosts alumni on campus who are working at various public relations firms around the country. Junior year, I was introduced to a strategic communications firm that was part of FTI Consulting. Because of that internship leading up to senior year, I received a job offer to join as a junior associate by Thanksgiving during the height of the recession – a time when many of my peers did not get such offers. In total, I spent nearly three years with that firm, and I’m so grateful for the impact it had on my career today.

Shelly Runyon, Senior Associate; Alma Mater: University of California, Davis

My first job out of college was an inside sales role, where I had no relevant experience outside of slinging handbags at Nordstrom. The Boston-based company had a small satellite office in Irvine, Calif., with five people with whom I had to interview. I had a very friendly reception there because of a connection I had with two people – one was a year ahead of me at the University of California, Davis, and the other was a fellow Delta Delta Delta sorority member, from the University of California, Irvine. Both the school and sorority connection put me on top of the resume pile and guaranteed a warm reception into the interview process; all I had to do from there was be myself and convince them I could do the work!

Jonathan Gregalis, Junior Associate; Alma Mater: Syracuse University

As a recent grad, I’ve definitely tapped into the resources that Syracuse University offers through the Career Development Center and through alumni networks. Career centers, like the one at Syracuse, have been savvy at tapping alumni and using them as resources for undergrads who want to ask questions and learn more about their fields of study. I was the benefactor of one of these partnerships. Additionally, I think alumni, like our CEO Phil Nardone, who take time out of their busy schedules to stay connected with their alma maters are incredibly beneficial for both students and employers. I feel confident that the network I built during my time at Syracuse will benefit me for the remainder of my professional career as a result of the resources made available to me and those I tapped into as a student.

Katelyn Campbell, Account Manager; Alma Mater: Bentley University

At Bentley, I was advised to use the Boston Business Journal’s “Book of Lists” to search for the top PR agencies in Boston. I printed that list, researched and sent off my resume and cover letters. After many years since graduation, I still work with Bentley for career advice and giving back to my alma mater. Bentley has visited PAN, I’ve spoken on panels and attended job fairs at my old campus and keep in touch with the Career Relations department (she actually sits on the PubClub board with me!). They are constantly putting on events that enable me to speak with other alumni and network.

Dan Martin, Vice President; Alma Mater: Syracuse University

Syracuse has an amazing network of alumni that are more than happy to help each other at any point along the career path. I will always remember my very first job interview at a PR agency 17 years ago. I walked in to the office to meet with an account supervisor. He looked at the resume, saw SU Newhouse School, told me that he also went there and said I was hired. It was at that moment I realized SU alum were a truly special group and I was lucky to be a part of it.

Looking for even more ways to beef up your network? Check out “Essential Networking for The PR Industry Newbie.” Got questions? Tweet @Sofia_Kathryn

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