Building Bridges with Alumni

What do you need to succeed in the real world? At a recent panel discussion, several alumni offered answers to that question. by Eitan Negri

On November 12, five AD/PR alums working in Advertising, Media Planning, Public Relations and Marketing, returned to CCNY to host the 7th annual Student/Alumni Networking event. Current students packed into Shepard Hall room and listened eagerly as they got the inside scoop on how to land a job in and what exactly it takes to succeed after school.

One of the first points the alumni drove home: that we, as City College students, are already ahead of the game. “We’re not like other colleges,” says Chris Villanueva, an account executive at Young and Rubican. He believes that CCNY students work harder and juggle more than others. “You’re not just here for today, you’re here for your career.”

The alumni agreed that making connections is key, especially at school. “Everyone that’s here [CCNY] is your ally,” explains Joanna Tuzel, a media planner.

She stresses the importance of having professors with real-world experience. “Nobody understands what you’re going through better than your classmates and your professors.”

Tuzel stresses the importance of downtime. She advises students to take a break after graduation suggested that after graduating and really think about what they want to do, without the pressure. “It’s so important,” says Tuzel. “No one ever told me that.  Travel, make friends, or stay right where you are. It’s your prerogative.”

Sal Lombardo, art director at Young and Rubican, wants current students to understand the difference between doing “executional” work, and doing work based on an understanding. Employers are more apt to hire someone who does more than generic cookie-cutter work. “You must be seen in a different light,” explains Lombardo.

All of the alumni urged students to get an internship–even more than one. Hands on experience makes a big difference. Still, be choosy: “Don’t just take any sh*t internship,” says Villanueva. “You’re better off getting internships that directly apply to you, and offer something valuable. If you have to decide between two positions that offer you much more as opposed to five or six that give you nothing, the choice is obvious.”

In the end, the guests agreed that students must  take advantage of all that school has to offer. Talk to everyone in your program, learn people’s names, and leave an impression. Without CCNY, Villanueva, concludes, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

 

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