I'm BACK! Actually, I'm not...at least not physically. I'm writing this from a hotel in Manhattan, where I'm spending the afternoon catching up on my email and finding out how things are going back home at IC. (I spent the early afternoon at an advisory council meeting of NYC alum; more on that in a minute....)
Speaking of email, do you all have a GMail (Google) email account? Hate to sound like a bad ad, but if you don't, you should. It comes with a GIG of storage space (who says you can't send those megafiles?); it has the most astonishing archiving and search engines (go figure, it IS Google); and it's F-R-E-E. The only catch (and it's really just a snag, not a full-fledged catch) is that you have to be recommended for an account by somebody who already has one. So ask your friends and relatives -- or ask me. ....email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I'll sign you up...
Now, back to the NYC Advisory Council. This is a group of amazing alumni who are very successful in a wide variety of NYC media organizations. For example, Cindy Vannoy is VP of advertising and promotion at ABC Sports; Stuart Zimmerman is VP of sales development at Columbia Tri-Star; Art Moore is VP of programming for WABC-TV in New York; Bob Scinto is a director for ABC television; and David Lebow is VP of AOL Media Networks -- just to name a few.... These are people who remain committed to the Park School and to Ithaca College, and they're willing to continue to donate their most valuable assets -- their time, their insights, and their expertise -- to making the school an extraordinary learning environment for all of us.
We had a great conversation about what THEY think a Park grad ought to know. It was like "How to Get a Job 101," and their suggestions included the following:
1. Learn how to write. Writing, they agreed, is the most important talent and skill a communicator can possess. It doesn't matter what platform, or what kind of media you're working in. If you can write, you're going to be way ahead of the game.
2. Don't pad your resume. When you're writing your resume, be sure to include the relevant information -- but don't spell out every detail. Remember: your readers are busy. They want to know the facts, not the fluff.
3. Include your references. Regardless of other advice you've received, include the names of your references with your resume. "Why would anyone write "References provided upon request?!" said one alum. "Why would I ever bother to take the time to track down YOUR references? If you want me to have them, send them to me!"
4. Pay attention to the environment you're working in. Every organizational culture and workplace is different; each has its own expectations and practices. If everybody around you is working 10-hour or 12-hour days, that's a signal to you that you, too, will be working that long and that hard...and if you're interested in succeeding, that's exactly what you'll plan to do.
5. Be interested. All of the alum described interacting with Park students at one point or another who exhibited no energy or interest in the meeting. Regardless of whether the person you're talking to is exactly the employer you want to work for, "everybody knows people in this town." Do everything you can to impress everyone you meet. "You never know who I could send your resume to," said one alum.
6. And once you have an internship or a job, be aware of how you can expand your skills, take advantage of new opportunities, and move up in the company. That doesn't mean being pushy or aggressive; it means being sensitive to what's happening around you, and being willing to step up and do what needs to be done. One alum described one of our current Park students as "extraordinary, she got it, she was always right there, willing to do it -- we would have hired her in a minute."
Great advice, from people who know - so I thought I would pass it along.
Tomorrow, I'm headed to a black-tie dinner (no red clogs at this affair...) sponsored by the Bayliss Foundation (we're talking 450 people in tuxedos and evening gowns....). It's an annual fundraiser, but this year, the Foundation will announce the creation of a new program of scholarships and fellowships for a select group of ten colleges and universities -- the best of the best in college radio. And you guessed it: I'm there not because I feel like getting dressed up with 449 people I've never met. (Though that could be fun, too...) I'm there because the Park School is among those programs, and will be recognized tomorrow evening as a recipient of the new scholarships and internships. I wish Chris Wheatley and all of you who actually DO radio at IC could be here with me...and I wouldn't even care if you weren't wearing a cumberbund (ok, so who knows what a cumberbund is?). Really.
What else is new? Well, I've been hearing from people who want to take the travel-writing course in Antigua in May. It IS expensive, so we're thinking about fundraising and other creative possibilities. I am So looking forward to it.
The bus is leaving (has left) for Ann Arbor, loaded up with David Gatten and his trusty band of film fanatics. As many of you know, the AA trip is an annual tradition at Park, and according to those who have made the trip, it is a transformative and deeply important experience.
Speaking of which, Seymour Hersh is on campus next Thursday. Be sure to come early; it's going to be standing room only.