Students, faculty and staff gathered in the Regency Room Tuesday to learn about obtaining a career right after college in MediaLab’s event “Transition from College to Career.”
The event, the first in an ongoing series titled “MediaLab Presents,” featured alumni from Pacific Lutheran University who graduated within the last 10 years and are from a range of professions.
The panel included: Chris Bowen, a project manager at Radarworks; Kristi Bruner, a marketing project manager for Inviso Corporation; Chelsea Gorrow, a journalist for The Daily Astorian; Bre’ Greenman, marketing operations manager for Retail Brand Presentation at Nike Graham Johnson, an on-air reporter for KIRO 7 Eyewitness News; and Rob Ripley, a graphic designer in the marketing department at PK Inc. in Seattle.
MediaLab emcees, senior Valery Jorgensen and junior Sam Horn, asked the panelists questions.
They first asked the panelists when they realized they wanted to do their professions.
“I liked art,” Ripley said. “I started with photography, but then JP [Associate Professor Avila] worked with me on graphic design.”
Greenman said she didn’t have a specific moment when she knew she wanted to be in marketing, but she knew it happened at PLU.
“I liked my marketing classes,” Greenman said. “I was encouraged by them. I really started to explore that in my internships.”
Jorgensen and Horn next asked the panelists how a PLU education affected their lives.
“I didn’t grasp how much I love learning until I came to PLU,” Bowen said. He went on to say PLU always allowed learning. “When you get out in the real world, it [finding time to learn] is not easy,” Bowen said.
Greenman also said PLU helped her succeed.
“PLU helped me build experience and a resume,” she said. “Choosing PLU opened a lot of doors.”
Horn asked about the most challenging aspect of their jobs and how they cope with it.
“Being creative all the time is really difficult,” Ripley said. “Sometimes you hit a creative roadblock. You just keep doing things you’re interested in.”
Bowen said his job provides a challenge in balancing compliance standards with clients. He emphasized the constant battle between clients and stakeholders and how it is important to keep communication open.
Jorgensen then asked what traits employers are looking for in a prospective candidate.
“A willingness to learn and enthusiasm,” Gorrow said. “That is very important.”
Bruner added that initiative is also important.
“Be happy to do anything and everything,” she said.
Bowen also said being dependable is important. He stressed the importance of sweating the details and being there when things get tough.
The final question related to how students can benefit from alumni hindsight and what students who are interested in pursuing the panelists’ careers can do to prepare themselves.
“Dedicate yourself,” Gorrow said. “Take your experience for all that it is worth.”
Greenman said experience is important, but not necessarily a lot of internships.
“Get as many internships as you feel you need, experience is experience,” she said. “You can also work for just one if you think you’ll get enough experience. Work history looks just as good as multiple internships.”
After a multitude of other questions regarding internships, daily work life and personal life, Jorgensen and Horn opened the floor for questions.
One student asked Johnson how he could break into sports writing and reporting.
“Keep your portfolio up to date,” Johnson said. “Produce some video packages so you stand out. Also, be flexible in doing other things in the workplace. Sports writers generally write other things, too.”
A faculty member asked what classes the panelists wished they had taken and wished PLU offered.
“PLU definitely had what I wanted,” Bowen said. “But I wish I had taken some coding classes. Knowing how to use website-building programs is good, but actually building a website is better.”
Instead of a STEM class, Johnson said he had wanted to take humanities classes.
“I wish I’d taken a history or English class,” he said. “You should too. Learn how to write, learn how to think.”
For more information on MediaLab’s upcoming events, visit its website.