On November 5, 2019 the St. John Fisher PRSSA, Tom Proietti Chapter hosted a panel featuring public relations and marketing professionals from the Rochester area. The panel included Colleen Onuffer, Jim Magnano, Collin Henrie and was moderated by Sarah Warren.
Colleen Onuffer is a consultant at Break the Ice Media, a marketing and PR agency focused on travel and tourism. She graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Journalism and Media and a minor in Sociology before continuing her education to receive a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from St. Bonaventure.
Collin Henrie works as a senior consultant at DAC, a marketing agency, where he focuses on digital marketing. He graduated from St.John Fisher College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media & Communications and a minor in Digital Cultures & Technology. In his professional life he has worked as an account executive, an account team lead and a digital marketing coach.
Jim Magnano is an account manager at Archetype, a global marketing and communications agency. He graduated from Brockport College. In his professional life he focuses on helping companies think strategically about using social media to communicate.
The panel was moderated by Sarah Warren, a Public Relations Specialist at Dixon Schwabl.
The panel focused on getting a job and maximizing the benefits of college in order to be successful. The panelists offered advice on transitioning from college to the professional world, internships, interviews and networking. They highlighted the importance of being personable, professional and eager to learn and work hard.
5 Important Takeaways from the Panel:
Interview, Interview Interview!
All three panelists emphasized the importance of interviewing. From informational interviews to job interviews, every professional conversation has benefits. “Every interview is an opportunity to learn,” said Onuffer, “even just asking professionals to look over your resume is helpful.” Henrie highlighted the importance of asking advisors for contacts. He recommended asking for a list of area professionals in order to contact them.
The more connections students make while they’re still in school, the easier the transition will be into the professional world. Magnano pointed out that the more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will feel when you’re interviewing for the job you want.
Demonstrate interest in the company you’re interviewing for. Even if you already have an internship or job, always ask more questions, seek to learn more people and ask for more work to do. The more you explore and learn, the more prepared you will be.
The panelists emphasized that preparing questions before an interview is extremely important. Onuffer, an internship supervisor, said she won’t hire an intern who doesn’t have questions during their interview because it shows a lack of interest.
Engage With Other Professionals
While it may be difficult, being conversational and personable with professionals is important. Even as an intern, it’s helpful to emerge yourself in the work culture and its social aspects. Be sure to contribute to professional and social conversations and always be nice. Connections that you make during internships can take you a long way, and being friendly goes even further.
Keep Your Head Up
The professional world is extremely different from being a student. Onuffer and Henrie said the biggest difference is accountability. When you have a job or an internship, you report to someone, rather than yourself. When you make a mistake it will impact more important things than your grades, such as your boss or a client. The fact that everyone will make mistakes makes it important to know how to take responsibility and pick yourself up from those mistakes.
Onuffer also spoke about losing her job after her previous company restructured. She said that it’s important to keep going after something like that and to keep moving forward. The path to success is not as linear as college, studying and working hard won’t always equal success, but you have to keep working hard and staying confident.
Keep a Good Network
Networking online and in person is extremely beneficial when moving into the workforce. Magnano says to use college as a four-year on-ramp to your career. Continue making connections, building relationships and making people remember you throughout your time in college. Important things to remember when networking are to shake hands, make eye-contact, be personable and be professional. The panelists reminded us that the longer you are in someone’s head after you meet them, the more beneficial your professional relationship with them will be.
The panel concluded with one piece of advice from each panelist:
“Go for every opportunity you have to gain experience.” – Colleen Onuffer
“Maximize all four years of college. It’s never too early to start planning for the future.” – Jim Magnano
“Take advantage of the Fisher network. They have an incredible network of alums and professionals.” – Collin Henrie
PRSSA would like to give a special thank you to Alyssa Whitley, former president of the St. John Fisher PRSSA, Tom Proietti Chapter, for organizing the panel.