Marketing Communications Specialist: “Very Chaotic…In a Good way!”

By Michelle Doyle, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

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Susan Mutterback is Marketing Communications Specialist at StarTech.com, a manufacturer of products for IT professionals. The company extends beyond the headquarters in London, Ontario to 14 countries worldwide!

As a Marketing Communications Specialist, Susan handles social media, public relations and general marketing communication such as ads and catalogues. This is a new role and is “very chaotic…in a good way!”  Because it is new, Susan’s responsibilities were built from the ground up which she finds an exciting challenge. Her favourite part of the job?   Susan emphasized her admiration for the people she works with…she really enjoys the collaboration and brainstorming processes that occur day-to-day at the office. 

Susan’s work journey began at the University of Guelph where she studied Psychology in her first year.  She didn’t really have a solid idea of what she wanted to do, just a vague interest in the field. After that year, she knew it wasn’t a perfect fit for her and decided to take a year off to figure things out.  She moved back home and took courses at the University of Windsor to keep her average up. The following year, Susan transferred to Western University and started thinking about public relations and marketing.  She graduated from Western in political science and sociology and then applied to Western’s public relations program. Of all her formal education, Susan found public relations the most interesting area of study. The final four months of the program involved an internship position. Susan particularly enjoyed this and found it extremely valuable in helping her gain real-world experience in the field.

After the internship, Susan had completed her education, but had received no job offers. She moved back home and worked at an unpaid internship for about 9 months. During this time, she remained persistent and applied to job after job, not receiving any replies. Finally, Susan was thrilled to receive a call from StarTech.com!  She moved right back to London, joined the company, and hasn’t looked back since.

Susan started out in a marketing role that was mainly sales focused. She enjoyed it, but was particularly interested in getting a position in her field.  When the Marketing Communications Specialist job opened up, she applied!

Susan has nothing but positive comments about working for StarTech.com, and is thrilled to be at such a wonderful company and working with such collaborative and supportive coworkers.   When asked what advice she’d give to those entering the job market,  Susan’s first words were “It’s hard”.  Then she highlighted the importance of taking jobs that aren’t necessarily in your specific desired field for the experience you will get from working.  She emphasized the “foot in the door” approach, the importance of starting off somewhere, and getting your name out there.  Lastly, she noted that unpaid internships can be good experiences. Susan was thankful for hers and believes that students entering the job field should not underestimate them.


Getting the Right People in the Right Job! Danielle’s Recruiting Story

By Craig Leonard, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University 

Danielle Giannattasio is a Recruiter for Aerotek, a leading company in the recruiting and staffing industry. As a recruiter Danielle’s job is to place suitable candidates in positions assigned to her on a contract basis. She specializes as a Technical Recruiter within Aerotek’s Engineering Services division. Specifically, she pursues engineers –  technologists, mechanical and electrical designers, and a wide range of specialized engineers.

This is far from the typical 9-5 job. Danielle’s schedule is mostly based around that of her clients and contractors. Typically, she begins the day by meeting with the other recruiters in her office to discuss the most urgent positions that they are working on. After prioritizing business, Danielle begins the recruiting process by using job boards and the company’s own database to screen for candidates, depending on the type of position she is trying to fill. Much of the workday is spent interviewing applicants to uncover what they themselves are looking for in a career and what their interests may be. Danielle also coaches selected applicants on their interview skills to help increase their chances of landing jobs.

Danielle thinks of herself as a subject matter expert in the engineering field, and because of this she is able to act as a consultant to her clients. While her primary objective is to provide the most qualified candidates, she also offers business and industry advice based on her daily interactions and findings in the market. Once she is successful in getting a candidate hired, her job is far from done. She continues to work with the contractor throughout their employment to ensure that they are satisfied, and moving towards accomplishing their own goals. When asked what it takes to be successful in recruiting, Danielle says, “A competitive and hardworking attitude…recruiting is about generating results under pressure.”

To get to where she is today, Danielle began by earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science at McMaster University. After completing her degree, she was unsure of what direction to head. She knew that she enjoyed working with people and had always excelled at sales, which fueled her decision to enroll in a Human Resource Management Post-Graduate program at Humber College. Danielle loved the one-year program but was not convinced by the end of it that she wanted to pursue a career in human resources. A requirement of her program was to complete an internship and she began inquiring about various companies and sections of human resources that she wanted to work in. She begun looking into recruiting companies and realized that given her interpersonal skills and passion for sales recruiting was a unique field that she could see herself working in. She then reached out to a number of individuals who were working as recruiters to learn more about what the staffing industry is like.

Funnily enough, after speaking with a number of recruiters she was approached by a recruiter at Aerotek for an opportunity to work in the company. The interview process for Aerotek is unique. It involves a 3-step interview, followed by a “half day”, during which the interviewees work at an Aerotek office for a half of a day to fully submerge themselves in the Aerotek way of life. After successfully completing this rigorous process Danielle was hired in June 2015. Although Danielle entered the staffing industry in order to complete a program requirement, she is fiercely passionate about her job and continues to love it and excel at it. When asked whether she would take the same educational path to her career in recruiting Danielle says, “Absolutely. While I don’t think that a background in human resources is necessary to do my job, I’m not sure that I would have ever entered the staffing industry and come across Aerotek if I didn’t get into it.”

What Danielle loves most about about her job is the fact that she is doing something different and learning something new, every single day. Although she was initially nervous to enter the engineering field without any prior knowledge of the industry, Danielle, as a naturally curious person, didn’t have a hard time networking with industry experts to gain some insight. “During any given week, I talk to at least 100 engineers, all from different backgrounds, with different educations and experiences.” One encounter Danielle remembers fondly is when she met one of the men who took part in designing the Mars Rover!

“Working in engineering has opened my eyes to so many things that I wouldn’t have paid attention to before. You wouldn’t believe how much you can learn from simply listening to other people’s stories.”

Danielle explains that the most satisfying part of her job is hearing that a client is pleased with their employee. “People rely on employment for their livelihood and it feels good being a part of that for someone.” Staffing is a competitive industry, and Danielle loves the competition involved in hiring the best people to the best companies, along with the challenge that comes with the pressure to make deadlines. She states that staffing is a unique industry; “You are dealing with the most unpredictable product – people.”

Danielle’s advice for people searching for employment? “Recruiters look for people that know what they want from a job or an opportunity. Although this may be difficult with the vast number of opportunities out there, it is important that you begin with an end goal in mind.”

 

From Graduation to Career: Madeleine’s (Scary & Exciting!) Story

My name is Madeleine Laforest. In January of this year, less than two years after my graduation from the Media Studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber, I secured a position as the newest and youngest member of Scholastic Canada’s Marketing Division, as the Marketing and Publicity Coordinator. Working in a four-person marketing team at the national level, my responsibilities include the creation of catalogues, securing events and publicity for our authors, and taking care of our promotional materials.  I am both honoured and excited beyond belief to embark in a role I love and for a company that shares my values in education and the promotion of creative expression.

My journey between graduation and full-time career was one of the scariest and most exciting times yet! It is a tough job market out there and discouraging at times, especially in an era of social media that seems to focus on highlights of peoples’ lives and seldom their struggles and self-doubts. 

I am hoping that by sharing my experiences, I can help you set your own expectations and prepare you for what is in store.

Securing the first job in your field is a combination of hard work, perseverance and luck.  

My journey began in my final year as I started sending out resumes to potential employers for my co-op and hopefully, a full-time position afterwards.  For every 10+ applications I sent out, I was lucky if I heard back from one.  I found that an interface with today’s social media could be an advantage, or disadvantage for you.  It is critical that you stand out from the rest, add a personal element to your portfolio to increase your chances of being seen, and don’t allow yourself to be swallowed up by it.  

You want to get that interview and meet with the employer to convince them in person that you are the right person for the job.  I was one of the fortunate students who received a few responses to my applications and was given an opportunity to be interviewed by more than one company.  In the end, I was able to secure internships at Scholastic and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Both of my internships at Scholastic and at TIFF were the result of me seeking out a direct contact at the company, and explaining my school requirement for co-op and my desire to work for them. 

I first came to Scholastic as an unpaid intern during my co-op in my fourth year. At the time I was working as a Junior Graphic Designer in the Creative Services Department. When my term ended, I did not want to leave as I had grown madly in love with the company and had formed many valuable relationships. At the end of my co-op I was told not to get my hopes too high for a full-time position, as they were on a hiring freeze, but I made myself a personal vow that I would not let this dissuade me. 

Fast-forward almost a year later, I came back in the role of receptionist after being tipped off of an opening by one of my co-workers who I kept in touch with. The opening was for a 4-month contract due to an internal change. At the time I was still working part-time as a Parks and Recreation Youth Program Leader, but when I received this message, I jumped on the opportunity with no hesitation.

I was interviewed on the Friday and was asked to start the following Monday. I said yes, knowing that my contract may or may not go longer than the promised four months, but regardless it was a foot in the door.

After four months, my contract was extended, and I was offered a transfer to Scholastic’s Trade Department as Trade Sales and Marketing Assistant that I held for 8 months prior to securing my full-time position as Scholastic’s new Marketing and Publicity Coordinator. I was the fastest turnover from receptionist to an internal position.  

How did this happen? During my four months as receptionist, I showed my eagerness to learn and worked hard by taking on as much overflow from departments as possible. Hence, in the fourth month, I was whisked away by one of the departments and my contract was extended! 

It is important that you never give up and that you continue to pursue your dream. Before securing a full-time position, I had applied to more than five internal positions; many of which I had come so close to acquiring. Despite the crushing disappointment of not getting one of these positions, I continued to apply as opportunities became available. I also agreed to take on more responsibilities to gain as much experience as possible. Then one day an unexpected resignation occurred, and there I was, the most qualified and eager person ready to fill the role! In the end, this marketing role was the best fit for me.

Don’t worry if you don’t get where you want to be right away, everything worthwhile takes time.

As you can see, even within my current place of employment it was quite a journey to get to where I am now. Since graduating I went from being unemployed, to being partially employed, to freelance, to finally securing my current position. So many times I could have thrown in the towel, but instead, I continued to strive forward and prove my abilities above and beyond everyone’s expectations, even my own.

You learn that you can’t take it personally when things don’t work out.  More often than not, you are competing with people who are equally or more qualified, or the position just isn’t the right fit for you. 

One of the biggest challenges I had to learn was to be patient with myself.

It can be easy to lose confidence in yourself when things don’t fall into place right away. While I was looking for a full-time job, I was able to work part-time and at the same time, work on several other projects to gain additional experience.  

As anyone who knows me knows, I have a passion for the video world. As part of the very first Emerge Conference, I was the head of the unit that won the first-place prize for best video for my sizzler reel. During the summer I also took on a position as a Videographer for the Georgian Bay Land Trust.  When the end of summer (post graduation) came around, I quickly realized I was not going to land a job in my field right away. I knew I needed to create work that would keep my resume current.

Always take advantage of slow periods by seeking out more experiences.This was about the time I started talking to an old collaborator about joining him and his co-director for a short film they were creating: Michael Was Here.  After meeting for coffee and hearing the story pitch, I was sold on it and I left the meeting agreeing to come onboard as the film’s producer.

This was a role I had never been in before, but I was convinced it fit my skillset. I discovered just how exhilarating, and how many months of hard work making a film could be! I was there from the initial stages, script revisions, scheduling and casting, creating Kick-starter pages for funding the project, and finally, shooting a film that was predominately filmed outdoors in what was one of the coldest Canadian winters yet! The people I met and the experiences I gained through this project kept me involved in this industry.  In addition to this I volunteered at various film festivals while searching for full-time employment. 

Then, TIFF 2014 rolled around. I took the entire week off to attend industry press conferences and screenings. Also, by keeping in touch with the team I worked with during my internship at TIFF, I was able to get a job as a videographer during the 2014 film festival. This year I plan on submitting Michael Was Here (https://vimeo.com/80317875) to the 2015 TIFF short film selection. There’s no reason why you can’t pursue more than one of your dreams at a time. Every experience builds on another! 

I have made great friends and connections through my projects as a volunteer. I also found great solace in reaching out to professors; they are mentors who know the field.  I always found them more than willing to give advice and guidance. Don’t ever underestimate the connections you’ve made at Guelph-Humber. The intimacy that you have in a small university community is a bonus. Network and connect with people! These are the stepping-stones to a successful career.

With that said, be sure to take full advantage of every opportunity!

Invest your time and effort in your internship and learn as much as you can. Take every opportunity that comes your way to gain and apply the experience. Put yourself out there and try new things, meet new people and network, because every connection made is an opportunity in the making!

With permission of the University of Guelph-Humber

A Dream Job: Natalie Quinlan, News Anchor and News Room Supervisor

University of Guelph-Humber stories don’t end with graduation. The university revels in the success of their past students and was pleased to discover that Natalie Quinlan, a Media Studies graduate had landed her dream job on Canada’s west coast! This is Natalie Quinlan’s post-graduation success story.

Natalie graduated from the UofGH Media Studies program in 2013 with an area of emphasis in Public Relations. After graduation, she completed a post-graduate certificate in Broadcast Journalism - Television News at Fanshawe College. 

In November 2014, Natalie, 24, became the evening news anchor and news room supervisor for CJDC-TV, a division of Bell Media, located in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The evening news show reaches about 60,000 viewers.

Working for a local station, Natalie finds her role requires her to “wear a lot of hats.” As the evening news anchor, Natalie relays important local, national, and regional news to viewers. This is no small feat – working for a local station, Natalie has to do her own makeup and hair, mic herself up, follow her own cues, and roll her own teleprompter. As the news room supervisor, Natalie manages a team of four reporters and works on her own stories in preparation for the evening news. “It’s a huge time crunch during the day,” says Natalie. “Reporting and shooting and editing everything definitely take the most time.”

Making the six o’clock news show seem effortless requires a considerable amount of energy – and effort. “We’re working so many different roles that we have a ton of responsibility on our plates. So, that’s why it feels like the day feels flies by,” says Natalie. “We are the reporter, videographer, editor, news anchor.” This makes for an invaluable and, more importantly, fun, experience.  “It makes the day so much fun,” Natalie adds. “It gives me a really good appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes.”

Natalie credits much of her drive and inspiration to pursue a career in television broadcasting to her experience at UofGH. Natalie was one of the pioneering students who worked on the very first student-run Emerge Conference at UofGH.

A hands-on learner, Natalie values the Media Studies internship opportunity in her final semester. “I interned at Entertainment Tonight Canada in Toronto and that really opened up my eyes to the possibilities associated with broadcast journalism and the world of television,” explains Natalie. “I always knew I had a passion for it, but I was a little bit scared of pursuing the industry because I’d heard so many horror stories. “ But after the internship, Natalie’s mind was made up: “I knew that it was where I wanted to be.”

In the spring of 2014, Natalie applied to a job posting at a radio station in Alberta. “What scared me more than moving out [there] by myself was not having a job in something I graduated in,” admits Natalie. “That’s why I just jumped on the opportunity right away. I would definitely recommend people to search out for the opportunities instead of just kind of waiting for them to come to them. You really have to go where the opportunities are, sometimes. Sacrifice a little bit, and you might be home in a year. That’s really a blip on the large scale of life.”

It was the right move – without it, we couldn’t have penned this momentous chapter in her career.

With permission of the University of Guelph-Humber