Exploit small opportunities and internships and dress for the job you want were among the tips Cornell alumni offered to 18 students who started their spring break wandering the streets of New York City as part of a three-day field trip for seniors in communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This was the 10th year the trip has been taken in connection with the Communication Fellows course (COMM 476).
The students, led by senior lecturer Brian Earle '68, MPS '71 (full disclosure: a student in the class, the writer of this article, is his son), spent March 14 to 16 learning about different aspects of the communication industry firsthand, studying corporate culture and networking with alumni in broadcasting, marketing, journalism, public relations, consulting and market research.
At ABC's studios for Good Morning America, for example, chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross spoke briefly about the importance of good writing skills and the changes now affecting broadcast journalists due to an increasing reliance on the Internet for news.
Kate Snow '91, co-anchor of Good Morning America, talked about getting "the journalism bug" during her student days at WVBR-FM. She urged students to "take advantage of small opportunities," speaking of her own career path from Albuquerque to New York. Snow, the mother of two young children, also discussed the challenges of juggling a family with a career.
At the digital services firm Avenue A|Razorfish, Sara Weiner '05, an account manager already overseeing a million dollar budget, advised students to "dress for the job you want, not the job you have," commenting on the nonhierarchal, youthful nature of many companies in the industry.
Andrew Ross Sorkin '99, mergers and acquisitions reporter at The New York Times and founding editor of DealBook, emphasized the changing world of journalism in the digital age. "Long term, I think The New York Times will be a very different newspaper," he said.
At Ketchum, a global public relations firm, students heard from Alison Szeliga '00, Amy Palladino '89 and Stephanie Grossman '06, who spoke on the transition from college to the workforce, stressing the importance of internships. The students also met with alumni and top executives at Regan Campbell Ward•McCann; GfK Roper Reports; and Saatchi and Saatchi advertisers.
Alumni expressed their willingness to help current Cornell undergraduates. "People helped me along the way and someone should be helping you," said Snow.
Prior to the trip, students in the course were required to give class presentations on trends in the communication industry, research each company to be visited and to focus on their career interests. "The course gives you an opportunity to look deeply into various companies and then a week later, you are actually visiting the offices and meeting key personnel of the organizations. It brings all the right pieces together," said Evan Hellman '07.
"After the trip, I think many students feel much more comfortable looking for jobs in the city," said Earle.
Corey Ryan Earle '07 is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.