First Career Jumpstart Builds Networking Skills for Communications and Business Majors 

Posted Feb 02, 2023

More than 25 alumni returned to campus for Student Success and Career Development’s first Career Jumpstart on Jan. 26. 

The event was designed to help students connect with alumni in the communication and business, accounting, and economics fields while also learning tips and tricks for networking and securing internships. It included a panel discussion, networking mixer, and workshops on topics like LinkedIn and Handshake. Free professional headshots for students were also offered at the event. Student Success and Career Development plans to expand this event to other majors. 

Erica Bush, a sophomore public relations, health communication, and journalism and media communications major, and Madi Kiraly, a sophomore business administration and management major, were both in attendance at the Career Jumpstart. 

What was your favorite part of the event? 

Erica: My favorite part of the event was when we got to approach the alumni and deliver our “elevator pitch” and get honest feedback back. I also really liked how it allowed us to meet alumni that we can later connect with to grow our personal networks. 

Madi: My favorite part of the event was when we were given time to connect and network with the alumni. It was nice to gain perspective from people who had been in my shoes and even hear from professionals outside my direct field of study. 

Who was your favorite alumni speaker and why? 

Erica: My favorite alumni speaker was Joshua (Hartley) Tice. I really liked him because he currently works in health communication, which I have a huge interest in. I really enjoyed hearing from him about his advice to students because I can see myself in his role one day.  

Madi: My favorite alumni speaker was Mackenzie Heilshorn because she is currently in the HR field which is where I want to find myself after graduation. She went into the field with a very different undergraduate degree than me (sociology and public relations) so it was refreshing to hear how that affected her career. 

What is the most valuable piece of information that the event left you with? 

Erica: The most valuable piece of information that I’m walking away with is the importance of internships! Getting an internship has been stressed to me by professors before but hearing all four of the alumni on the panel say that an internship is what really kicked off their career  solidified the idea that internships are the key. 

Madi: The two major takeaways I got from this event were the importance of networking with professionals and peers to gain connections that can potentially lead to career opportunities and how important it is to use your strengths when planning for your future career. 

How will you apply what you learned at the event to the rest of your time at Otterbein? 

Erica: Something that I will now apply in the future is my “elevator pitch.” I’m glad that we were able to have a workshop on this topic so that it’s a tool we can use moving forward. In 60 seconds, I now know that I can introduce myself, say my passions and my skills to a new person that I can potentially add to my network.  

Madi: One of the topics the alumni panel discussed was the importance of having a mentor. I think my next few years at Otterbein I will make more of an effort to connect with faculty and staff, as well as other professionals, who can help me navigate my career goals.  

How was the event tailored to your individual interests and major? 

Erica: I felt that the event had an equal amount of communication alumni as they did business alumni. Not only that, I think that they had a great variety in the communication alumni. From people in the broadcasting field, to social media, to HR, the event had someone for everyone. For me, I was excited to talk to alumni in health communication and hear about their jobs and I’m so glad that this event gave me that opportunity. 

Madi: I was fortunate enough to have two alumni in attendance that were professionals in my desired career field. Even though I only had the opportunity to speak with one of them, it was nice to have options available and the opportunity to speak with professionals in a wide array of careers across the business and communication fields. 

Why do you think that attending events like this is important as a student? 

Erica: I think that events like this are amazing for students because it allows them to see what job opportunities are out there once they graduate from Otterbein. Then, students are not only able to see the variety of jobs, but talk to people in those roles and get useful advice from them about their journey in their career. 

Madi: I think it is important for students to attend these types of events because they prepare us for life beyond Otterbein. Although graduation can seem far away at times, it is always helpful to get ready for the career you are going into following graduation.