By Nicolas Rontanini
About 30 Adelphi students attended the Ninth Annual Media Career Expo held on November 15 in Blodgett Hall where they got to hear the professional journeys of six alumni, all of whom graduated in the last 10 years. They were invited to this event by the dual organizers, The Delphian and the Communications Department. Panelists shared their tips for breaking into the media industry, as well as the position they currently hold and what experiences they had while they were Panthers that helped them to get their current jobs.
The panelists were Alexandra Romero ’22, who is an instructional media specialist at Columbia University’s Columbia Video Network; Gabriel Flores ’19, who works through the local 52 Union in NYC in the electric department as a lamp operator providing light for scenes; Victoria Chiesa ’15, who is assistant managing editor for corporate communications at the United States Tennis Association; Mara Bush ’14, who works at ABC Network News for the affiliate services department; Vinny Messana ’13, president and founder of the digital media company, Axcess Baseball; and Brett Spielberg ’13, director of strategic communications and advancement at The Waldorf School of Garden City. Spielberg and Chiesa are both former editors-in-chief of The Delphian and Messana was the sports editor, leadership roles they all said helped them get valuable journalism experience.
The alumni were asked a series of questions by the event’s moderator, Liza N. Burby, a senior adjunct professor in the department and this paper’s advisor, on topics including jobs that have opened up in recent years, the importance of internships and opportunities while still in college, and skills panelists wished they had learned during their time as an AU student. The expo also allowed students in attendance the opportunity to ask whatever questions they had regarding the job search, as well as a chance to network with the panelists after. Many students stayed for more than an hour after the two-hour event had ended as the panelists all took the time to speak with them.
“I feel like the Media Career Expo really gave me an insight into the realities of the field. It’s so easy to fall into these ideas of doomerism and that the job market is collapsing,” said Alyssa Krell, a junior communications major in attendance. “There is a future, if you look for it, if you make it happen, if you talk to the right people. The future in the field is there; you just have to do the work.”
The expo is not only an educational experience for students, but for panelists themselves, Romero attended the expo after visiting it last year.
“It was very surreal coming back as a panelist this year. I definitely wanted to come back though, as I found much comfort from the panelists last year,” she said. “This one was truly special because we all got to network after and share even more.”
One of the aspects covered was how to network, something all students are told is important, but is a skill that takes time to learn and can be intimidating. Flores shared he got his current job by walking up to a technician on a photo shoot and just asking about job opportunities. But Bush said she’s not a fan of networking.
“I think it comes naturally to very few people and I’m still trying to figure it out with my mentor,” she said. “Something I’ve learned is that it's okay not to be good at it. It's okay to be yourself and let your work show the type of person you are. If I have a reputation for getting my work done and getting it done well, that opens up opportunities for me.”
Messana added that LinkedIn is the digital networking space and can be perfect for those who are not comfortable seeking out mentors. “Have an account, use the search tab to filter out the high-quality people you want to reach out to. Message them and ask if you can meet them for coffee or ask them if you can ask for advice,” he said.
Chiesa shared that if she could go back to when she was an undergraduate she’d tell herself not to be afraid of failure. “Push yourself out of your comfort zone as hard as it can be. The first time a person tells you your dream is too big or you’re barking up the wrong tree it can be discouraging and make you question if you’re doing the right thing,” she said. “It’s really hard to push that to the side and say yes I do know what’s right for me. But if you do go down that road and you find it’s not what you expected or you do happen to fail at it, it’s not something to dwell on for an extended period of time because if you get wrapped up in those no’s you’re going to miss the next person who tells you yes or helps you get to that stage.”
Flores said he recognized that the common theme that he and his fellow panelists were sharing was that they didn’t wait for things to happen, but created their own opportunities.
“As a filmmaker I think more now than ever we all have phones and can go out there and shoot something and make it happen,” he said. “I would learn something in class and then go out and supplement that, like three-point lighting or why my favorite Netflix show looks the way it did . I’d just be a complete nerd about it. Just try things, put yourself out there because no one is going to make it happen. You have to do it yourself.”
One message the panelists shared was to find what works best for you.
“I never thought I’d be a director of communications when I was hoping to be a journalist. It’s something different for everyone, it’s whatever works for you,” Spielberg said. “And you don’t have to know that now. It’s going to take time, you’ll stumble upon it, someone will hand something to you, you never know. It's going to be different for everybody.”
Romero, the most recent graduate among the panel, added that the most important thing she could share is that everything is going to work out.
“I never in a billion years thought I’d be here when I was sitting in your shoes last year, so you just never know what is going to happen. As long as you keep putting yourself out there, doing the work and trying your absolute best, it’s all going to be okay,” she said. “It’s not the end of the world; it’s actually just the beginning.”