Graduation is approaching and the pressure of finding a job is on. Online job postings can receive hundreds of applicants and can become overwhelming. How can you differentiate yourself from the rest of the applicants? Creating a connection with an employee within a company or industry can help get your application towards the top of the pile.
Many students struggle with trying to make these connections, especially in places outside of the state. MSU offers students networking opportunities to make these vital connections. I was fortunate enough to attend two networking trips over winter break including the ADV 402 course in NYC and the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) “Big Show”.
The ADV 402 course provided me with endless connections in the city. Over the course of a week, our class met with CEOs, recruiters and MSU alumni at a variety of advertising and PR agencies including: Muck Rack, Development Counsellors International, MediaCom, Sparks and Honey, InTouch Solutions, Edelman, Serino/Coyne, DDB, Blue 449 and Rubenstein Communications.
Each agency visit included a presentation and Q&A about the role of the agency and their clients. From pharmaceuticals to food and beverage retailers, every agency was involved in a different industry. As a senior Advertising and Public Relations student entering the workforce, I gained a whole new perspective of how many opportunities there are in the field. The trip ended with a brainstorming session with MediaCom’s advertising team about a new pitch idea for one of their cosmetic clients.
It was inspiring to see so many MSU alumni at each of the companies and how they are making an impact in the industry. During this time of transition and uncertainty, it was reassuring to hear success stories from recent MSU graduates.
A Future in Retail
One week after the ADV 402 course, I returned to NYC with MSU’s Corporate Retail Association to attend the NRF’s “Big Show”. The event was a four-day conference for students pursuing a career within the retail or fashion industry. Company founders and executives from established retailers and start-ups spoke about the future of retail and the innovation taking place within the industry.
The co-founder of Margaux, Alexa Buckley, shared her professional experience that started with the idea of a comfortable working women’s ballet flat. This idea grew and allowed her to become a successful business owner as a recent college graduate. She gave advice about how to do the same and spoke about Margaux’s role in the retail industry. The final day wrapped up with a speech from Daymand John from ABC’s “Shark Tank” on how his career in retail started and where it is today. After the presentations, students and recruiters mingled at the “Big Show” job fair.
Networking Trips 101
I cannot recommend applying for networking trips enough to my peers. Experience and education is important, but connections truly make the difference. Last year, I attended the New York City Retail Connect Trip before applying to internships. I interviewed with several retail companies and never got a position. However, I received my dream internship with Brooks Brothers thanks to a connection I had made on the NYC Retail Connect trip. As a senior applying for full-time positions, I am trying to follow my own advice: Make as many connections as you can.
I did not have a traditional winter break at home and I found myself getting tired of traveling, but it was worth every second. I am fortunate enough to attend a university that provides opportunities to further my education and future career. I left New York City with more connections than ever and a fresh take on the advertising, PR and retail industries.
By Brooke Segal