Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Life after graduation can take a lot of twists. Julie Perng’s degree in organizational communication from Ithaca College is a long way from the Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics she’s pursuing. But her journey into that field began as a member of the Martin Luther King Scholar Program at IC.
“The MLK program changed my life and who I am profoundly,” Julie says. “It was a huge part of my college experience.”
Julie’s path began with a journey to Brazil, her first international trip as an MLK scholar. Her social justice research—a key part of the MLK program—was on homophobia; from there she took a broader interest in social issues. As a sophomore, she received funding to attend a conference on LGBT issues. At that conference she met some people concerned with fair trade, which became a new passion.
Julie went on to found a fair-trade club on campus, and she focused the final two years of her MLK program research on trade. The next major twist in Julie’s route to her Ph.D. was a Fulbright scholarship to study in China.
Julie spent three years in China, first researching rural-to-urban migration and ecotourism and then working for the Nature Conservancy—making use of her communications degree. Later she moved back to the United States and began working with various federal agencies as part of a project management and consulting firm.
“My company funded graduate work, so I started taking classes in applied economics because I knew that’s where I wanted to go.” She is focusing her thesis on ecotourism and recently conducted exploratory research in Costa Rica, a country she had visited before with the MLK program.
“I really need to understand the history of tourism in Costa Rica. I also need to understand other aspects of the country that will be important for my analysis and the methodologies I want to use.”
Julie credits the interdisciplinary focus of the MLK program—and Ithaca College—with providing perspectives that come in handy despite the fact that economics is perceived as being all about numbers.
“In the end, even though I’m doing economics, math, and statistics, I still have to explain the human element to my stories.”
And though her academic background isn’t the same as others in her new field, she doesn’t see that as a setback.
“Ithaca College began my road to where I am today. I had a winding path to get where I am, but I’m tackling everything, even when I have limitations. I’m prepared in terms of doing research and writing and independent thinking.”
>> More on this story: Ithaca College recognized as a top producer of Fulbright students
As the saying goes, it’s not just what you know, but who you know that matters. Matt Palmaccio leveraged the marketing skills and professional connections he made at Ithaca College to get his career off to a flying start.
As a student, Matt built his confidence and real-world marketing knowledge through his coursework, group projects involving local businesses, and as a recruiter for the College’s chapter of the American Marketing Association.
“Those experiences gave me a professional demeanor, as well as the working knowledge of marketing and advertising that I needed to successfully interview for jobs,” he says.
The path to his current position at Details began when he attended a career fair as a senior in the School of Business. He stayed in touch with a recruiter he met from a media planning company in New York City and was called for an interview when he was about to graduate.
Matt got the job and worked for a pharmaceutical company on media planning, which included choosing the magazines the company advertised in. Marketing was his real passion, and he found himself drawn to the magazine industry, especially when a coworker went to work at publisher Conde Nast, which produces Details.
“We got together for lunch because I wanted to find out what he was doing there,” Matt says, and the lunch conversation piqued his interest even more. “That’s how I ended up switching over to the marketing side of magazines.”
Matt was hired at Conde Nast, transitioned to Hearst, and was then drawn back to Conde. “The interesting thing about magazines is that, in New York, it’s kind of a small world once you’ve worked in it,” he notes. “So when a job opened back up at Conde Nast, the human resources person called and said, ‘There’s an opening at Details I think you would be really good for.’”
Matt credits the networking skills he learned and relationships he made through the School of Business with kick-starting his career. “Obviously, Ithaca is kind of far from New York City, but they have established great connections to different places.”
>> More on this story: Business Administration: Marketing Concentration
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