The Great Recession that led to a worldwide economic and housing downturn from 2007 to 2009 saw Americans struggling to find work. At one point in 2008, monthly job growth fell as low as -8 percent. But things are changing. Now that those numbers are back in the black, it’s time to feel hopeful about your prospects – and the stats agree.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s projected job growth for 2010 to 2020 is stellar for many markets. For advice on how to succeed, alumni offer insider tips on some growing careers.
At first, I had my heart set on a career in TV, and was taking part in internships in TV broadcasting even while I was in high school. When I got to Saint Joseph’s, I studied for a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration on video production. Once I finished my degree in 1998, I spent the first part of my professional career as a videographer in Portland, Maine, for a couple of local news affiliates. Later on, I wanted to get into public relations, and didn’t have that experience, but this job is a dual role that focuses on both video production and public relations – my background in broadcast TV gave me the chance to get in the door. I’ve been here eight years in August.
The job is a real hybrid. One part of it is the media relations side: I’m involved with writing pitches and press releases, bringing reporters and editors to campus, and getting them excited about stories. I also do all of the institutional and university videos for Ball State.
The coursework I did in video production at Saint Joseph’s has helped me in all of my work. When I got to Saint Joe’s, I was ahead of where most students my age were, but the faculty, especially Bill Yates and Martha Cameron, were instrumental in taking my passion and talent and helping me remain challenged. They tailored the curriculum to me on an individual basis and gave me the tools, expertise and guidance to continue along. I keep in touch with both to this day.
Today, the field has changed, in that everybody knows how to put a movie together, and can make movies on iPhones. It seems like it would be harder for someone to find a niche and be noticed without going the extra mile. If you want to learn the trade, learn how to write well and find your own style. Don’t just focus on one vehicle; learn more than one way to tell a story.
I love working on a college campus and seeing the students grow. A lot of them work in our office, and will stay as long as four years – it’s wonderful to see them grow in their storytelling. In spotlighting stories from the university, I have the great responsibility of showcasing all of the talent on the campus. And it never gets boring: I’m a storyteller, and every day there’s a different story.
I started out in catering at a country club back in my hometown. While there, I assisted the event planner in the coordination and execution of events and weddings. I am always looking to increase my skill level, and this job enabled me to do that.
An average day at work entails a lot of communication and follow-up – about 95 percent of my job as an assistant event producer is email, email and email! This is a way of staying organized and making sure everyone is on the same page. When I am not emailing, I am confirming details with vendors, attending vendor walkthroughs, answering calls, picking up rentals, sitting in on client meetings and attending all kinds of fun fittings and trials.
Some of the more relevant skills that help me consistently throughout a workday would be my customer service skills, reliability and organization skills. In event planning, you are working to give your client exactly what they want. In order to do this, our clients must trust us. By responding to emails, answering phone calls and arriving on time, I am developing trust between our customers and myself. Our clients are providing us with the pleasure of coordinating one of the biggest days of their lives. They need to know that they can rely on us to follow through.
Writing papers and studying for Ed Hellenbeck’s exams have trained me to find what strategies work best for me when it comes to organization. It is crucial to be organized in order to stay reliable, avoid issues and provide your client with the best customer service.
When you find a position you are interested in, find out more about the company. Can you see yourself supporting what the company does? Do you agree to their overall goals and mission statement? I would also gain as much experience as possible in event planning, whether it is catering, planning school events or organizing trips for school clubs. The more experience you have and the more connections you make, the easier it will be for you to find a job.
The one that stands out the most for me is watching our clients light up because we have successfully given them a moment in time they will never forget.
I researched companies and submitted my résumé to public accounting firms in the New England area that I was interested in. Also, I actively followed up with a phone call to develop a personal connection. I acquired my current job by networking with a former manager from my first job. Public accounting is a small community; you never want to burn any bridges.
A typical day doesn’t exist. Most people think accountants sit in cubicles “counting beans.” That’s just not the case. Much of my work varies from day to day. One day I might be scheduled to work at a client’s office on their 401k audit. Later that same week I might be back in the office wrapping up a not-for-profit tax return or researching new tax laws for a client to minimize their tax liability.
Working in public accounting, you must possess teamwork, communication, critical thinking skills and adaptability. Accountants have to be able to use professional judgment to make decisions and communicate those decisions to others. Accountants are also held to high standards by those who depend on their judgments. High ethical standards are essential.
Of course, strong math and spreadsheet skills are necessary for analysis. Writing skills are necessary too: With email as a vital part of businesses, being able to compose a coherent and concise email is crucial.
Build your network – it’s all about who you know; take advantage of internship and professional organization opportunities; use and keep current professional networking sites; don’t be afraid of on-the-job training; and own your career – don’t sit back and wait for things to happen.
It’s very rewarding when [your clients] know they trust and depend on you.
While I was a junior, I worked in the Information Technology Department as a Help Desk assistant. I learned a lot about software and hardware, and I liked it. I was very intrigued in how systems worked and what resources were needed to assist others in getting their work done. While my concentration of study was not computer science, I studied and researched a lot of information on technology. I took every opportunity to learn.
Every day offers a new challenge or opportunity to learn, teach and help. The Information Technology Department works with and supports every department, every student, every employee and many others outside of the campus community. The Help Desk deals with a wide range of technology inquiries and issues: forgotten passwords, software training and technology repair, just to mention a few.
As a multimedia student, I learned a lot about different software, troubleshooting, time management and, most importantly, working with different personality types. Working together and knocking down barriers are some things that I try to incorporate in my work. Those troubleshooting skills come in handy every day.
Be open-minded. Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s a part of learning. Think. Do your research. Study. Don’t stop learning. Keep trying new things. Accept that you will be sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time. Love and embrace change.
The most rewarding part of my job is working with people. I also appreciate the ability to solve problems for others.