As I mentioned in my last post, before spring break I searched the Career Services’ Alumni Careers Network for alumni whom I could potentially contact to arrange an informational meeting. I found an alumnus who works in NYC as an entertainment reporter for a top media company who agreed to meet me during spring break. Here is a summary of that meeting…
My meeting was scheduled at 11:00 AM, so I made sure I woke up with enough time to get myself ready. I chose my outfit the night before. Although I wasn’t attending a job interview, I still wanted to look professional. I wore a nice button up shirt, sweater, and slacks. I ate a good breakfast before leaving the house. I wanted to make sure I was focused and alert during the meeting. During the train ride to New York City, I reviewed the questions I wanted to ask the alum during our meeting. I was extremely excited.
Upon arriving at the building, I checked in with security, was given a visitor badge, and was told to wait in the lobby. When I looked for a seat, I saw Tracy Morgan was sitting there. “How Cool!” I thought to myself. I wouldn’t mind working in an environment where I could run into celebrities on a daily basis. After a few minutes passed, the Princeton alum greeted me. We stepped into the elevator and saw Regis Philbin standing there! The alum introduced me, and I eagerly shook Regis’ hand (trying not to look too star struck).
When we arrived upstairs, we had about 45 minutes to meet. The alum gave me so much advice and information about how to pursue a career in the entertainment industry that it would be impossible to include everything he said. I have provided some of the main points from our discussion below and think his advice can be applied to a wide range of career fields.
- Use the end of sophomore year to refine your interests. Freshman and sophomore years are great for exploring a variety of interests. However, as you approach the end of your sophomore year, you should start thinking about which interests you may want to pursue further? It’s about quality and not quantity at this point. Start thinking about taking on a leadership role in a few of the clubs/organizations you belong to, so that you can start pursuing your passions in a more in-depth way.
- Go after what you want–now. Is there something you have always wanted to try, but never got around to it, or were scared to try? Now is the time (while you are still in school)! For example, I told the alum that I was interested in possibly working with the campus radio show. He asked me if I had contacted the manager of the station yet. I said I was put on an email list. He told me to try going directly to the radio station to request a meeting. Face-to-face contact is essential and can open up doors that impersonal contact might not. At the same time, I was advised that before my meeting, I should have a detailed plan and be able to describe the type of impact I wanted to have on the radio station. Going after what you want requires dedication, passion, and hard work. However, the benefits will be rewarding, in both the long- and short-term.
- Seek out people who have similar interests. Many Princeton University students may have similar interests/strengths. Start networking with students who are interested in the types of things you are. Get to know them better. Work on projects together. Some of your greatest accomplishments during college can come from working with other students. These relationships can also continue after graduation as you continue to expand your professional interests and networks.
- Balance your time. College can definitely be stressful at times, so it is wise to manage your time wisely. I was advised to separate my time into chunks such as “THINGS I HAVE TO DO” and “THINGS I WANT TO DO”. By delegating time in such a manner, handling stress is much easier. Remember, making time for things you want to do and pursuing your passions is very important. The types of skills you acquire now will help you later in life.
- Find a mentor. Having a mentor during college can be very helpful. A mentor can help guide you in different aspects of your college life and career choices. More importantly, a mentor in your prospective field can give you keen insight into options available to you.
- Ultimately, find a career and a job that makes you happy. The advice that I think was the most important was, “Find a job that you can’t wait to go to when you wake up in the morning.” A career is very important choice in one’s life. Having one that satisfies and brings happiness to you is important. To ensure that you will find the right fit in the end, make time to explore lots of options while in school (through extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts, externships, and internships).
My experience in using the ACN and connecting with an alum was fabulous! I strongly encourage other students to reach out to alumni and take advantage of their wealth of experience and advice. Search for alumni on the ACN. Request a meeting. Ask questions. Follow-up and keep in touch. I’m very grateful that I did!