Wednesday, June 15, 2011
It's that time of year when we clean up our offices after graduation and prepare to welcome a new crop of first-year students.
... when I get enthusiastic emails from new grads who just landed jobs
... when I follow tweets from alums getting frustrated by endless applications and interviews, still waiting for their big breaks
... when I get visits from former students bringing THEIR kids to campus, exploring the whole college scene for the first time
... when I get postcards and Facebook updates from former students from all corners of the globe -- enjoying a vacation or off to a new professional challenge or grad school in some exotic spot
And I start thinking about what I'll say to the parents and students arriving on campus over the next few weeks for orientation.
As you might imagine, many of the questions I get are about the kinds of jobs that Park students can expect to get after they graduate: Where are they? How much do they pay? And how quickly do our grads get hired? We have a lot of success stories to tell; many of our seniors had job offers waiting for them and some even complained that they had to miss senior week to start their new positions. But many of them don't have jobs -- at least not the kinds of traditional jobs we've been thinking of -- but they are also among the lucky and successful ones.
To be sure, the economy is changing. Jobless rates continue to climb and more people are piecing together various ways to pay their bills. The media entertainment industry is one where the most prominent profesionals NEVER had jobs -- rather, they have 'gigs'. The top producers, actors, photographers, event managers, scriptwriters, editors, and cinematographers get temporary contracts to work on one show after the next. They create their own "properties" and "franchises". They are their own brand. They're not owned by anybody.
And so, many of our most talented and engaged students are following these trends and patterns. Even if they go the route of accepting something that looks like traditional employment, it's really just the next chapter in a long personal story of individual goals and projects. They are creating their own stories and careers which are quite beautifully integrated with their personal experiences, values, and dreams.
Our most recent ICTV station manager, Nick Righi, has always wanted to combine his love of the outdoors with his passion for TV. Last month, he graduated with a degree in TV-Radio with minors in business and outdoor recreation. He spent countless hours and the last of his pennies funding his own video documentary on the Everglades. This opened the door to his job as a Media Manager for Spectrum Productions in Tampa. When I emailed him asking for permission to use his photo on this blog, he modestly informed me that he had just been promoted to Production Coordinator -- after less than a month on the job.
His classmate, Chloe Scutt, was snapped up right after commencement by G2 Direct and Digital, a leading digital marketing communications firm in NYC (where we have about a dozen other alums). Chloe said in a recent email to me, "From working as a Dean's Host, Park France Ambassador, Ad Lab Co-Chair, Supervisor of the Ithaca Fund, as well as a member of the Senior Class Gift Committee- all these opportunities have all helped me progress as a successful student and as an adult." The fact that her Ad Lab team won the district championship and came in #2 in the national student advertising competition didn't hurt either her confidence or her marketability!
Rachel Merkin graduated in May and went directly into the job of her dreams: Community Relations Coordinator for Major League Soccer. She majored in integrated marketing communications and minored in sports studies. Throughout her college career, Rachel held a part-time position at GiftCard Partners, a small marketing company based in the Boston suburbs where she worked as a marketing intern, social media manager, and most recently, public relations coordinator. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, Rachel worked as a marketing intern at Pangea Brands, a Boston-based sports licensing firm. She also interned for the Boston Breakers, a franchise in Women’s Professional Soccer, and was an events marketing intern for Kraft Sports Group, the holding company for the New England Patriots and New England Revolution. Talk about a young woman who knew what she wanted to do and pursued every opportunity to build her skills and her network!
Many other young alums are out there pitching their scripts, writing books and journalistic articles, putting together production teams and financing for their own documentaries, and creating online businesses. Matt Quintanilla and Mike Potter who graduated from the Park School in '07 are founders of Disrupto, a digital product development studio with clients like the NY Rangers and Samsung. Evan Engel, '08, is a member of Jet Set Zero, a group of young people who produce a web series on jet set life on a zero budget. Our senior dinner speaker this year was Meryl Weinsaft Cooper '92 who is a partner in a NYC PR firm and just wrote a book on Becoming Your Own Best Publicist. Liz Tigelaar '98 was last year's senior dinner speaker; she created the new TV series "Life Unexpected" which draws a lot of inspiration from her own experience as an adopted child.
The concept of "job" is actually quite new in human history. Throughout history, most humans grew up in a family farm or business and were nurtured in a community where they discovered what they liked to do and whose company they enjoyed. They found the means to support themselves and their families -- but not necessarily through a single rather rigid relationship with a corporate employer.
The lines between family and work and hobbies and passion are blurring, and isn't that GREAT??!! And so it's back to the future for many of our young students and alums.
I'd like to think that our unique mix of a rigorous professional education, opportunities to lead and explore in internships and co-curricular media, and a wonderful array of courses outside communications gives our students a special advantage.
At Ithaca College, we don't just prepare you for a job... we prepare you to get a life.