As @WorkingOrange Turns ONE, Alumni Share Their Best Advice

By Kim Brown, Assistant Director of Alumni Programs

On January 14, 2013, we launched @WorkingOrange. One year and 100 guest alumni tweeters later, the account has grown to more than 2,600 followers. This is the first of two blog posts looking back on the first year of @WorkingOrange. Thanks to all of you for making it a SUccess!

For our first post, we asked the Syracuse University alumni who had taken over the account during the past year to share their top piece of career advice. Here’s what they had to say!

Lauren Wannermeyer, @colormelauren, Community Manager at MXM Social 
LaurenWannermeyerDon’t limit yourself to careers that are directly in line with your major. Many majors have transferrable skills that can be applicable in a variety of fields if you do the right internships and have the right on-campus experiences. 

Marc Lomasky, @marclomasky, Duke University Law Student
MarcLomaskyI feel it’s important for prospective law students to know what they are getting themselves into. It is much easier said than done to decide on attending law school. Students must be fully aware that entering the field of law is a major time commitment. The law school process is three years, but coupled with LSAT and Bar exam studying, it comes out to a little over four years of non-stop tireless work. All that said, I couldn’t be happier with my personal decision to attend law school as it has made me into a well-rounded individual and has taught me to think outside the box in various situations. 

Dane Lopes, @danelopes, SVP/Sales Leader – US East Region, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions
DaneLopesStand out and be different. Think for yourself. Take chances. As Mark Twain said, twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.

Matthew LaFleur, @doodlematt, Design Director at Trend Publishing, Freelance Illustrator, and Homebrewer

MatthewLaFleurSome of the most interesting courses I took were outside of my major (acting for non-majors, sophomore fiction workshop, films of Steven Spielberg thru Newhouse, Animation via Film school, The Soling Program). Take advantage of everything Syracuse offers. 

Catherine LaPointe, @LaPointeArt, Book Illustrator and Designer
CatherineLaPointe It may take days or decades to succeed, but if you give up you’ll never know which it was. The first step is never glamorous, but take it anyway, and see where it leads. 

Adam Britten, @AdamBritten, Social Media Coordinator at Taco Bell

AdamBrittenAlways be looking for new connections. Reach out to people within your industry who are just starting out, on the same level as you, and 10 years your senior. You never know when a small connection will turn into a big break. @WorkingOrange is a great place to start, as you have a natural connection to anyone tweeting from the account since we are all part of Orange Nation.

Katie Walpole, @KatieWalpole, MPA Candidate at the London School of Economics
KatieWalpoleDon’t give up! I’m just starting the job search process, but even during the graduate school admission process I was rejected from first choice possibilities. Keeping a positive energy is the best way to move forward!

Sean Keeley, @NunesMagician, Creator and Writer for the blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician 

SeanKeeleyTake advice but trust your gut. More often than not in life, the people who told me what I should do didn’t actually extend any help to make it happen. It’s easier to tell someone not to do something risky than to help them accomplish it. Remember that sometimes advice comes cloaked in “what’s safe for you” and not “what’s best for you.” You’ll know the difference when you hear it. It’s your life, don’t live it through the filter of other people’s hopes and dreams.

Daryl Wolke, @DarylWolke, Director of Development at Gesher Jewish Day School
DarylWolkeMy advice for new grads entering the job market as well as those of us whose diplomas are a little on the yellow side and are looking at career reinvention would be “think outside the box!” In my day, a Broadcast Journalism major went to local news, a PR or ADV major to an agency, etc. We collected an amazing box of skills during our time @cuse and @Newhouse, how can they be used “off label” so to speak? In 1984, I would never have considered philanthropy a CAREER, it was something my mom did because she didn’t work lol. Every day, as a professional fundraiser, I use the public relations, writing, advertising and rhetorical skills I learned at SU.

Menotti Minutillo, @44, Technical Program Manager at Twitter
MenottiMinutilloYour career path is only obvious and knowable in retrospect, so spend less time trying to plan it. Focus instead on identifying opportunities in the moment and developing a trusted network of professionals that you’d be delighted to work with in any capacity.

Victoria Chan, @VictoriaChanINC, Executive Director at Values Academy
VictoriaChanWhen you go to any kind of conference, understand that it is more important to build relationships than to collect business cards. For every ten cards that you receive, take two minutes aside to write down an interesting fact about the person so when you email them later, there’s a personal touch.

Sandy Prisbell, @SandyPantalones, Project Designer at Mattel
SandyPrisbellMy career advice for SU students is to do what you love! The best tool you can bring to your job is a real passion for what it is that you do- no matter what industry you are in.  It was great to be a part of the @WorkingOrange twitter community for a day! My job is creative and unique and I’m thrilled to be part of a company, like Mattel, and to be able to share my day to day inside these amazing walls with the SU community. My Surface Pattern Design major and BFA from SU played a big part in laying a foundation of skills to design for consumer products and character brands.

Kafele Khalfani, @kafele, Director of New Student Orientation/CLUE & Residence Life at the College of Staten Island
KafeleKhalfaniI think one of the best pieces of advice is to make connections with alumni especially those on Working Orange.  We want to build relationships with the current students. Who doesn’t love sharing their wisdom and sage advice?

Rachel Chang, @RachelChang, Senior Editor at Us Weekly Magazine
Don’t underestimate the value of networking with those in the field you have your eyes set on. Even if they may not have any job opportunities at their companies, they may know others in the field looking for employees — and someone who comes recommended always beats the pile of resumes to sort through. Cast your net wide — it only takes one position at one company to open up for you to land your dream job! Stay on target and don’t let being turned down from one job get you down… it’s all about the perfect fit at the right time and your time is coming!

Hillary Berman, @hillaryberman, Founder/Owner of Popcorn & Ice Cream
When you first start in a new job, focus on listening first and contributing second.  While demonstrating your knowledge is important, you can answer questions more intelligently and provide far more value with greater perspective on the company, the context of a situation and a general understanding of culture.  Employers may note eagerness to participate, but they’ll really appreciate your desire to learn and provide the most valuable contributions possible.

Don McPherson, @DonMcPherson, Social Education Innovator and Entrepreneur, College Football Hall of Famer, TV Show Host, and more
DonMcPhersonMy advice is always to follow your passion.  Make money your last deciding factor and go with what makes you happy, smile and feel like you are fulfilling your purpose in the world.  I know that sounds fluffy but nothing is worse than missing that one person who can make you happy…YOU!!

Chris Velardi, @cvelardi, Anchor of Good Morning CT on WTNH/NEWS8
ChrisVelardiIt sounds simple, but “hello” is such a powerful word. It’s a door-opener, a conversation-starter and the glue of networking. Whether you’re reaching out to someone for the first time or reconnecting with someone after a long time, it begins with “hello.” During my day as @WorkingOrange, a few “hellos” led to some new connections – professionally and personally. You never know how the people you meet may help you. And you never know how you may help them. But the world – and particularly our Orange world – gets a little smaller when you start with “hello.”

Scott MacFarlane, @MacFarlaneNews, NBC 4 I-Team Reporter – Investigative Journalism
ScottMacFarlaneAs a reporter, I’m paid to be resourceful. I’m paid to find things no one else can find. I’m paid to find solutions when surrounded by problems. To succeed professionally, keep this in mind: Resourcefulness shouldn’t be limited to reporters. No matter what field you choose, always strive to be resourceful. When setting up a networking session, or a professional meeting, don’t rely strictly on GOOGLE to do your pre-meeting research. Call people in the industry. Ask around. Knock on doors. Do some *real* research. Go into the meeting having done some homework.  You’ll have an edge, you’ll have a more successful meeting and you’ll demonstrate the type of resourcefulness EVERY employer craves.

Angela Tucciarone, @A_Tooch, Digital Media at PepsiCo
AngelaTucciaroneStalk alums on social media. Follow them, send them a FB message, tweet @ them, favorite their tweets (only if you genuinely are in like :)) Social media is a more casual, engaging way to get noticed without having to send that awkward introductory email.

Matt Josephs, @brosephs950, Radio Producer at ESPN Radio 950
MattJosephsMy advice is to soak up as much info from the alums as possible. We’re good resources to help out and I’m always willing to listen to someone who went to the ‘Cuse.

Nicole Marie Milano, @nicolemariemil, Writing and Editing Specialist at Writing Solutions Group

NicoleMarieMilanoNetworking is everything. While I’m confident in my skills, I know that most of the jobs I’ve gotten since graduation have been due to connections, not my resume. Always be networking, and keep in touch with connections even when you’re not looking for a new job. You never know when you might need them.

Fiona Andrews, @fionalandrews, Marketing Consultant and Yoga TeacherFionaAndrews
Don’t pigeonhole yourself, and make your own opportunities – sometimes, all you have to do is ask! 
I studied opera at SU, intending to pursue a secondary degree and a career as a musician. Instead,  I asked a company I had interned with for a job and then graduated a year early to take it – I ended up working with them for over two years, working my way up, taking on extra responsibilities, and learning a lot. Then, I decided I wanted to pursue yoga – so I emailed a yoga master asking if I could study with him, moved to India, and completed my advanced teacher training. Now that I’m back stateside I teach yoga classes and also work as a marketing consultant – but everything I do is a result of something I learned from an out-of-the-box opportunity I simply asked for.

Nick Martin, @NickAlanMartin, Regional Recruitment Admissions Communications Manager at City Year
NickMartinMy advice for any graduating Orange is to do a term of service with AmeriCorps. The term will be incredibly challenging and rewarding as it accelerates your career path. There are currently 18 Syracuse Alum serving with City Year and many more have served before. 

Ben Tepfer, @bentepfer, Marketing Specialist at Adobe
BenTepferI have two pieces of career advice. The first is to learn to grow within a changing environment. Changes occur on your team, but also at the company level. This time last year I was at a company of around 300 people. Now, as the result of an acquisition, the company is around 12,000! Change can be great for you personally and your career. Just don’t let it overwhelm you. The second is that it so always learn. Try to learn new skills as often as you can. You should never be bored at work, in my opinion, because there is always something new to read or a way to hone your skills.

Harsh Mall, @harsh_mall, Digital Marketing Associate at Richard Attias & Associates
HarshMall– If you’re an international student, you’re going to have to put in twice the effort into everything. And in this job market, that means putting twice the effort into putting twice the effort!
– You may be applying for a job but you’re applying through a person. Pitch to the person not the position.
– At entry level, you will experience rejection, creative frustration, and rigorous working conditions. Deal with it. Working hard will sharpen your skills and provide with you a crucial asset in your workplace: dependability.

Bill Voth, @billvoth, Cofounder of Spiracle Media
The day I took over @WorkingOrange, I was covering the NCAA Tournament, but not in the way I would have thought when graduating from Syracuse in 2001. Back then, the traditional media ladder was intact. In order to cover big sporting events, you did so with a television station, newspaper or radio station. But 12 years later, that ladder had essentially disappeared. I covered this year’s tournament for a participating school that used my company, Spiracle Media, to do its video production. It was an example of how athletic departments, teams and athletes have used the emergence of digital and social media to become their own media outlets. My advice to current SU students would be to look beyond any ladder or traditional route they think they need to use to achieve their dreams. The media landscape has been blown up, and while that is in some ways scary, it also means there’s infinitely more ways to creatively pursue career ambitions.

Miko Horn, @MikoHorn, National Tour Director/Father Knows Best & FISLL Curriculum, Allan Houston Legacy Foundation
MikoHornFind an industry that truly interests you and compliments your talents, learn as much about the field and people currently working in that space, research opportunities to intern or volunteer and most importantly work harder than anyone else.

Matt Park, @MattPark1, Voice of the Orange at Syracuse University
MattParkIn any industry, one of the most important keys to success is personal relationships. It’s not always easy, but nurture your network when you’re not necessarily job seeking or in need of something so that it’s there when you are.

Naysa Mishler, @naysamishler, LinkedIn Corporate Solutions
NaysaMishlerMy “slice of advice” is to build your network now, so when you need it, it’s there. I also recommend the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to connect with SU graduates. Compare their skills to what you’ve learned to see how you stack up, and where you might need to bulk up. Reach out to them for an insider’s perspective about a company and how they got there. We’ve found that most people want to help out fellow students and alumni, and are open to informational interviews. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door. #orange4life

Ryan Balton, @ryanbalton, Studio Operator at ESPN
RyanBaltonMy biggest pieces of advice for students are to get involved with activities on campus, especially ones that give you practical experience in your field, and to work part-time and freelance jobs on campus, especially those that give you customer service experience, like at the library or a computer lab. Also, in general I would avoid unpaid internships if you know what you’re doing, otherwise they’re just taking advantage of you and your skills.

Joe Bator, @joeb300, Senior Vice President at Eastern Bank
JoeBatorWhile it is important to have an idea on where you want to go, don’t wear blinders that keep you from an opportunity that doesn’t fit your view of your future.


Veronica Ripson, @veronicaripson, Digital Planner at Essence
VeronicaRipsonEveryone makes mistakes and it’s okay! Always take responsibility for your role and try to come to the table with three things; what happened, how to fix it in the short term, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your bosses will respect your honesty and appreciate your ability to think through the issue. 

Chasity Cooper, @chasityscooper, Inbound Marketing Coordinator at 2U
ChasityCooperWhen it comes to starting out your career, be willing to lay a firm foundation above all. Yes, there may be grunt work and long hours, but the hard work will ultimately pay off. Stay hungry, remain humble, ask questions and never be afraid to fail. Finally, always show gratitude because your passionate spirit will always shine through.

Nick Cicero, @nickcicero, Lead Social Strategist at Livefyre Storify
NickCiceroNever stop hustling. One of the things that I’ve found to be most beneficial to successful people is their tenacity and desire to create amazing things. Surround yourself with people and organizations who never stop asking questions or challenging traditional ideas.

Charles Oehrlein, @droehrlein, Podiatrist
DrOehrleinDo something interesting, way outside of your major.  I played tuba in the Marching Band for four years as well as taking fencing.  These were the two topics my med school interviews focused on.  Everyone takes all the bio courses and pre-requisites so if you can find something really fun and not what everyone else is doing you can set yourself apart.  Plus you’ll meet people you probably would never have met elsewhere.  

Thanks for reading! Tomorrow, we’ll hear from some of our alumni about what being on the @WorkingOrange account meant to them.

If you’re a Syracuse grad interested in taking over @WorkingOrange for the day, please e-mail me: kmbrow04 at syr dot edu. Thanks and GO ORANGE!