Comm Alums Share Lessons Learned with Current Students

UMass Alumni joined current Department of Communication students in the ILC Hub for the annual Career Alumni Networking Night. Students and faculty had the opportunity to listen and talk to alums from a variety of career stages about their experiences while at UMass and their lives after graduation.

Four alums returned to campus for the event. One of them, Ruthchneidy Benjamin ‘17, came all the way from New York. Benjamin now works as a marketing specialist for WebMD Health Services in New York City. She advised students that connections can be made anywhere.

“Get to know everyone you run into on campus, classmates, teammates, and professors,” said Benjamin

She said networking helped her get the job she has now. She also advised students that the transition from campus to working a 9-5 job can be challenging, so to not lose their spirit and enthusiasm from college.

Cassidy Kotyla ’18, the most recent graduate in the group, is already running her own full-service production company called The Neon Hive. In addition, she works as an account manager for a marketing firm in Boston and as a freelance photographer. Kotyla told students to go after the jobs and careers they want and that it’s important to be assertive.

Jacob Lawrence ’17 works as an assistant account executive at PAN Communications, a technology and healthcare PR firm in Boston. Jacob told students, professionalism is key when applying to jobs and internships so they should research the companies and practice interviewing. Lawrence added that students should not be afraid to call companies and inquire directly about job opportunities.

“In the end it is not about how many internships you have but the experience you gained from them,” said Lawrence.

Lastly, Jeremy Smith ’94, currently works as the digital projects manager in scholarly communication and as the Department of Communication liaison at the UMass Amherst Libraries. Smith also emphasized networking and how crucial it is when job hunting or looking for internships, and he said it’s important to stay connected and to be bold.

“Stepping outside your comfort zone is extremely important when entering the real world. Be open to change and new opportunities,” Smith added.

(Pictured above: Cassidy Kotyla '18, Jacob Lawrence '17, Jeremy Smith '94, Ruthchneidy Benjamin ‘17)

At the end of the group networking, many students stayed later to talk one-on-one with the alums, taking the opportunity to begin adding to their professional networks and strengthening themselves with useful information to take their college and professional careers to the next level.

-- Natalie Short ’19