On April 27, the University of California Santa Barbara‘s Communication Alumni Council put on its 11th annual Communication Career Day as part of a wide range of events that took place on campus during alumni weekend. The event included a panel of alumni speakers, as well as opportunities for networking.
UCSB’S Communication Career Day was started 11 years ago by Linda Putnam and Karen Myers. Over the past few years “there has been a really awesome turnout” where “about 30 alumni and 300 undergraduates attend,” Norah Dunbar, chair of the communication department, told The College Post.
This year, 52 alumni attended and undergraduate students filled every chair in the auditorium. The event kicked off with a welcome from Dunbar, followed by an introduction from Alexandra Platt, chair of the Communication Alumni Council.
During her introduction, Platt explained a bit about the alumni council and how students can use it as a resource. She also publicized the various social media accounts connected with the communication department.
The introductions were followed by an alumni panel composed of Justin Hannah, manager of marketing technology at Hulu, Oriana Branon, director of community outreach and public relations at Alaska Airlines, and Carrie Beckstrom, chief learning officer for PowerSpeaking Inc.
In addition to providing information about their career paths, these professionals touched on many topics that undergraduates constantly wonder about, ranging from how to build a personal brand, to the importance of mentorship, to how to stand out among the job market and when going through interviews.
Maggie Kelley, a third year student at UCSB, found this information “extremely valuable because [the alumni] are there to help UCSB students and know exactly what it is like to be us. It feels like they come into it looking for specific ways to help.”
Following the conclusion of the panel, the event shifted into a networking hour. Alumni were grouped by tables based on their areas of expertise such as counseling, marketing and work in the digital field. This allowed attendees to easily identify individuals already working within career paths they might be interested in.
Considering that an estimated 70-80% of jobs are acquired through networking connections, networking is a key part of the job search process in the current U.S. job market. With these statistics in mind, the UCSB communication department makes it a priority to help students gain networking experience.
Alumni make valuable use of the time and “want to pass what they know to undergraduates,” Dunbar said. “They remember what it was like to be on the job market and scared for their future.”
For Danielle Yoon, a third-year communication major at UCSB, the structure of the event, coupled with the information she took away from it, were both very helpful.
“It was very well set up and the department brought in a great number of people to listen to and gain advice from,” Yoon told The College Post. “It exposed me to an unfamiliar pace and environment to get used to for my future.”
Although longstanding connections and job offers were not guaranteed from the networking experience, the event presented a way for students to ease into networking and learn about prospective job fields.
While both Yoon and Kelley admitted they had no continued communication with the companies after career day, they still gained valuable information and tips from the experience, proving how taking advantage of resources like Communication Career Day can make the transition to working life easier for today’s undergraduate students.
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