Alumni Spotlight #5: Laura Rohlfing, '07

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  I am still stuffed from eating my father-in-law’s empanadas and tostones (yum!) and the huge batch of pierogis I made from my mom’s family recipe (my mom on Christmas when she found out I made pierogis: “Oh my god!  You made pierogis?  Send them to me!!!”  Only problem, my mom is on another continent thousands of miles away… sorry mom!).  In any case, I wanted to get back into the blog today by profiling 2007 Communication Studies graduate Laura Rohlfing (although many of you probably know her by her maiden name, Laura Manier).  Laura is working as a Software Trainer and Technical Writer for Global Internet Management, a company based outside of Philadelphia, where she lived for the past two years (although she recently moved back here to the great state of California).  Global Internet Management markets a software called InfoServe that allows anyone and everyone to create the content on their websites in a user-friendly way.  No HTML is required (sounds like something I would like!). 

As part of her job, Laura developed a training curriculum where she  teaches clients how to use the program.  She even travels to do onsite trainings.  For example, she went to Illinois College for a week last year to teach the college staff how to use the program.  She is also responsible for all documentation, manuals, and handouts.  She is currently in charge of planning and presenting at their User Conference in April. 

I chose to profile Laura because she is working in a high-tech field even though she didn’t concentrate on this as an undergrad.  I asked Laura how she ended up in this position.  “When we moved [not the “royal we,” she is referring to her and her husband, Geoffrey!] to Philadelphia I was looking for a job in many different fields.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I had just come out of a stiff business banking position and had a bad experience trying my hand at recruiting.  I saw a post on Craigslist for Software Trainer and after reading the post it sounded like an interesting job.  I submitted a cover letter and my resume.  In my resume, I tried to emphasize my work with computers and show that I have worked in a lot of environments.  Since I had no training experience, I think it was my communication experience that helped me and showed that I knew how to interact with people.  My writing skills also caught the eye of my boss.”  Did you hear that?  Communication experience!  As in, Communication Studies major! 

As Laura mentioned, she had a few job experiences after graduating that were not a good fit, but she has landed at a great place now, which I think is a good lesson to everyone.  According to Laura, she really likes the casual environment of the company that she works for and “the freedom I was given to make my training what I want it to be.  I do not have to follow strict policies and end up having a voice in many aspects of the company.”  Congratulations to Laura on her position!

'07 Grad Laura Rohlfing


Internship Ideas: Jared at "DNA"

Hello everyone!  I hope your holiday break is off to a good start!  Me, I’m still grading, but I wanted to take a short break from reading literature reviews to blog about sophomore Communication Studies major Jared Ralys and his internship.  Here we go…

Q: Where are you interning?

Jared: “The name of the company I am interning for is DNA (Designers and Artists), which is a Fashion PR company.  We are currently in collaboration with a new boutique in SoMa called The Common, doing in-house PR for the store, but we also have clients in NY and LA that we represent.”

Q: How did you find the internship?

Jared: “I found this internship on a website called FreeFashionInternships, which has hundreds of awesome internships in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.”

Q: Why did you choose to intern at DNA?

Jared: “I chose to intern for DNA because they have a long list of amazing clients that they represent, so as I’m doing PR for them, I’m getting to meet tons of big important people in the fashion industry.  It also allows me to gain experience in both sides of PR, in-house and agency PR.  In-house is when you work for just one brand or designer, and agency PR is when you rep multiple brands.  On top of that, it’s a smaller company so I’m not just getting coffee for my bosses, but actually working with them.”

Q: Why do you do on a regular basis at your internship?

Jared: “I work usually 4-5 days a week, and what I do each day varies.  My tasks include pitching stories to media and bloggers, contacting editors of magazines, sending samples to magazines for photo shoots, contacting celebrity stylists to loan them clothes for their clients to wear, including Willow Smith, Ke$ha, Rihanna, Ashley Tisdale, and Kim Kardashian, helping produce pop-up shops, working shows and events that we have, and occasional styling, etc.  By doing all of this, our clients that we represent will hopefully get a lot of press and media coverage which helps boost their sales.”

Q: What have you learned from your internship?

Jared: “I’ve learned a lot in the short amount of time that I’ve been working at DNA.  One big thing that I’ve learned is that PR is all about details.  Everything has to be perfect because these are designers/companies reputations that we are handling and mistakes can really hurt them.  I’ve also learned a lot about event production, the behind the scenes of a fashion show or event.  I’ve learned a lot of the ins and outs of the fashion industry and what it takes to work in it.  It’s definitely challenging and exhausting and requires long days and a lot of work, not as glamorous as it seems, but it is very rewarding at the end of the day to see the clients we rep on the pages of a magazine or receiving great press after a show that we’ve worked so hard on.”

Q: What advice do you have for other students looking for an internship?

Jared: “Definitely go for it.  I was really scared at first to even apply because I thought they would never hire me, but in the end, it worked out and it’s definitely worth it.  Even if you don’t get hired the first time, you learn from that what they are looking for and what to expect in the next interview.  I was also scared of how I was going to balance school, a job, and an internship, but if you find an internship doing something you love, it’s worth the crazy schedule.  It’s a great way to gain experience and get your name out there to put yourself ahead of other people who don’t have experience.  And yes, sometimes you will have to get coffee for your boss or sweep the floor, but it all pays off in the end.”

I chose to profile Jared because I knew from hearing about his experiences that he is really enjoying his internship at DNA.  As he mentioned, he was hesitant at first to apply, but he took the attitude that even if it didn’t work out, he would gain experience by going through the application process that could help him for future internships.  It ended up working out perfectly, so his lesson to “go for it!” is a good one.  Jared also took great initiative looking for and securing an internship on his own as a sophomore.  Congratulations, Jared!

Jared and his roommate

I know most of you are already at your holiday destination and you may already be missing school (okay, maybe not already).  But, do you know a cure for the “I’m missing USF” blues?  The blog!  That’s right… classes may not be in session, but my blog is!  So keep up with it while you are home eating Christmas cookies.  Oh, and Santa, if you’re listening, I don’t want spam for Christmas.  Neither kind, really.  Not food spam or comment spam.  Just yummy food and real comments from my students, alums, and coworkers.  Okay? 

Speaking of… (do you see how appropriate the title of this blog is?)… Christmas cookies, I will be taking a few days break from the blog to bake Christmas cookies and celebrate the holidays with my family.  But don’t worry, I won’t be gone for long.  Here’s what you have to look forward to on the blog over the January break:

Alumni Spotlights (that’s right, more than one!), more Internship Ideas, Academic Trivia (including a story about USF’s former mascot), and, wait for it, a new section called “Class Notes!”  Consider them to be my Christmas presents to you!  Happy Holidays!  Oh, and good luck to our Lady Dons tonight as they take on #8 Stanford.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if they won?  Go Dons!


*Updated* Student Shout-Out: December Grads!

A great big shout-out goes to our Communication Studies majors who are graduating tomorrow!  Commencement ceremonies begin with Commencement Mass at 10:00 and Graduation at 12:30.  Congratulations to all of our graduates!  Here they are (drum roll please)…

Mitch Abad

Maddy Bohannon

Morgan Brief

Anita Buitrago

Jenna Carstens

Vida Fernandez

Michael Kelly

Adam Linder

Matthew MacLean

Amy Miller

Michael Minto

Andrea Pesaturo

Brittany Pickett

Judith Rolleri

Samantha Sumampong

Brittany Tisdell

Xintong Zhang

I know the other faculty members join me in congratulating each and every one of you!  I will be updating this post tomorrow with pictures from graduation!  CONGRATULATIONS!

As promised, here is an update with pictures from yesterday’s ceremonies:

Professor DeLaure, Professor Ho, Professor Burgess, and Me getting ready to line up for graduation

Here are two from the ceremony:

You can't tell, but this is Brittany Tisdell shaking the hand of Dean Camperi after receiving her diploma "holder" (you don't actually receive your diploma on graduation)

Vida Mae Fernandez walking across the stage

A great big shout-out goes to Vida who sang the national anthem at our graduation!  Vida, you have a beautiful voice and all of the profs were proud to have our major represented so well!

Now here are pictures from the reception:

Me with graduate Matt MacLean, BA!

Graduate Andrea Pesaturo... headed home to Baah-ston for a white Christmas

Grad Maddy Bohannon and Professor Ho

Samantha Sumampong with her beautiful lei (and me with a giant head and a giant hat... I blame a bad angle!)

Congratulations again to all of our graduates!  Keep up with the blog to keep in touch and let me know what you end up doing.  We are all so proud of you and your accomplishments!


Academic Trivia #3: Graduation Edition! Why do professors wear different colored robes at graduation?

In honor of graduation week, I bring you the Graduation Edition of Academic Trivia!  Today’s question: Why do professors wear different colored robes at graduation?  The color and style of the academic regalia worn by professors at commencement and other university ceremonies indicates three important things: 1) the institution where the professor studied, 2) the degree held, and 3) the area of study. 

While the standard color of academic robes is black, you will see a rainbow of colors at our graduation ceremony because often universities will have colored robes to reflect their institution.  For example, my robes, believed by many to be the best looking at the ceremony (and by “many” I mean “me”) are royal purple with gold piping to reflect the school colors of the University of Washington.  Similarly, you will see many deep blue robes with gold piping at our ceremonies because they are the colors of the University of California system (both Professor Burgess and Professor Jacquemet sport these robes as alums of UC Berkeley).  Some robes, however, are standard black with velvet colored panels down the front and colored bars on the sleaves (such as Professor Ho’s black robes with yellow panels and bars reflecting the University of Iowa Bumblebees, I mean Hawkeyes).  Check out Professor Ho and I in our robes here:

Me and Professor Ho hanging out on the Kalmanovitz Hall Terrace in our robes

Academic robes and caps also reflect the degree held.  The most elaborate robes, indicated by the gown and hood, reflect the highest degree earned: the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).  These doctoral robes have full, bell shaped sleeves and the aforementioned velvet panels and bars on the sleeves.  The doctoral hood (which can’t actually be worn as a hood, so it is no help if it is raining) is four feet long with wide panels on either side.  The Master’s robes have long, narrow sleeves and a three and a half foot hood, the Bachelor’s robes have long pointed sleeves and a three foot long hood.  Neither the Master’s or Bachelor’s robes are trimmed. 

Our hoods: purple and gold for the University of Washington (me) and gold for the University of Iowa (Professor Ho). It looks like I am dancing, but really I am trying to show the bell shaped sleeve of the doctoral robe

The inside of every hood is colored to reflect the institution which granted the degree.  For you graduates out there, your hood will be lined with a gold chevron on “a field of Kelly green” to reflect USF’s colors. 

The inside of a USF hood... gold on a field of Kelly green

Areas of study are also reflected through the robes.  In particular, your undergraduate hoods are lined in colored velvet that reflects your area of study: Communication Studies majors are colored white to reflect Arts and Sciences, business is drab, education is light blue, science is yellow. 

You will also see a variety of caps, or mortar boards, at graduation.  Holders of doctoral degrees can have a gold tassel, while most others are black.  The standard issue mortar board is square, although some institutions have variations, including those with six points and those with eight points.  Some doctoral caps are puffy, and some institutions are known by their very unique caps. 

Academic regalia dates back to medieval times and is thought to have been modeled on the robes worn by clerics.  While we only wear our robes at graduation and other formal university ceremonies, in the “days of yore” (or in Harry Potter) they were worn all the time (and truth be told, on chilly days and/or bad hair days here I sometimes want to bring back the tradition). 

Congratulations to all of the students who will be graduating this week!  Later this week, a special blog post honoring our Communication Studies graduates!

Do you have an academic trivia question that you want answered in a future post?  Contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu.


Alumni Spotlight #4: Julianne Fazio, '07

Today’s “Alumni Spotlight” illuminates Julianne Fazio, who graduated in 2007 with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Health Studies.  Since graduation, Julianne has been enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (wait a minute… I hope this doesn’t mean she will be rooting for Nebraska over my Washington Huskies in the Holiday Bowl…), and she will be graduating this coming week with a Master’s of Science in Speech Language Pathology!  Let’s catch up with Julianne…

Julianne became interested in speech pathology while she was an undergraduate student here at USF, and after taking some courses in the subject at San Francisco State University, she decided to continue her studies by going to graduate school.  While in her Master’s program, Julianne completed clinical rotations working with young children in a private practice setting, with elementary school students, and with older adults at a hospital and rehabilitation facility.  Julianne became particularly interested in studying and working with people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  She had the opportunity to work with children with ASD and explore their creativity through acting, dancing, and singing at the Rose Theater in Omaha.  Accoring to Julianne, “My most proud accomplishment while at UNO came when I coordinated Together We Dance, a family-friendly fundraising night for the Autism Society of Nebraska.  The event increased community awareness of ASD and raised money for research and funding of programs for the Austism Society of Nebraska.  The night was filled with games and dancing.  A group of parents who have children with ASD commented, ‘We have never seen our children like this.  It is so fun to watch!'”

Julianne garnered two very impressive honors while in graduate school.  She was recognized as one of UNO’s Top 12 Student Leaders (one of only 12 from the entire university!), and in 2009, she was awarded a Members Honor Award from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association for her academic and service achievements.  She was given this national award at the ASLHA national conference in New Orleans, LA. 

I wanted to profile Julianne for this Alumni Spotlight for many reasons, but two stand out.  First, she she is an alumna who embodies the ideals of Jesuit education.  Julianne told me that she has referenced USF’s motto of “Educating minds and hearts to change the world” throughout her time in graduate school.  “I have been blessed with the gift of education, and I feel it is my responsibility to serve those who are in need of assistance.”  Second, Julianne has taken a very different route than many of our grads, and I think it is helpful to see how many different fields you can go into with a background in Communication Studies. 

After graduating this coming Friday with her Master’s, Julianne plans to move back to her home state of California and begin working.  Congratulations, Julianne, for all of your success!

'07 Graduate Julianne Fazio, MS!


Internship Ideas: Natalie at "Yammer"

Today I am profiling senior Communication Studies major Natalie Baryla.  Natalie is currently interning at Yammer (love that name!).  Here we go…

Q: What is “Yammer” and what do they do?

Natalie: “Yammer is an enterprise social network, which has revolutionized corporate internal communications.  It is basically like a company’s private internal Facebook where they can communicate, share files, and any other thing that email has ever done for a business, all in one simple place.”

Q: How did you find the internship?

Natalie: “I found the internship through the USF career page where internships and other forms of employment are listed.” 

Q: Why did you choose to intern there?

Natalie: “I chose to intern at Yammer because it seemed like a completely new thing for me.  I wanted a change and I found the ad and did some research on the company.  What I found was super amazing and I’ve been pretty happy ever since.”

Q: What do you do on a regular basis at your internship?

Natalie: “One of the main things I do is monitor our fastest growing networks for the sales team.  I also monitor Yammer’s coverage in the press and update our website with new stories.  Those are the things that stay pretty static throughout the workweek, but there is always a new project to work on, which never leaves me bored.”

Q: What have you learned from your internship?

Natalie: “I have learned a lot of stuff from working at Yammer.  The startup world for one is a completely different place than the college world, and I love it.  I have learned how to use and master certain programs or software from salesforce.com, to marketo, to even things like Excel and Typepad.  Most importantly I think that I have learned how to be a problem solver and quick thinker, which has prepared me greatly for entering the workforce next year.”

Q: What advice do you have for other students looking for an internship?

Natalie: “Look for new businesses, like startups.  They are amazingly fun, and even if you don’t like it, it’s still an awesome experience.  Use our career center, they are AMAZING!  They helped me get my resume into amazing shape, and without their website I wouldn’t have gotten my internship.  Don’t waste your time looking for work on craigslist, it won’t pan out, and if it does it’s probably a scam.  And never be shy to ask a professor, they may know someone in need of an intern.”

I would like to second Natalie’s suggestion about using our Career Services Center.  Many of our graduates have told me that they wished they had taken advantage of the Career Services Center when they were students.  They can help you with all sorts of things, including resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, personal statements, and career assessment.  You also have access to internship databases through the Career Services Center, as Natalie mentioned.  You can find the Career Services Center in the University Center, 5th floor or at www.usfca.edu/career

Natalie with her cat Traktor, which I think means "cute and furry" in Polish

I asked Natalie if I could profile her because I knew that she was really enjoying her work at Yammer.  From what she has shared with me, it also sounds like a fun place to work.  Congratulations to Natalie on her internship!  Do you have an internship you really like?  Contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu to be profiled in a future edition of Internship Ideas!


Student Shout-Out: Sarah Hirsch at Great Urban Hack SF

Today’s “Student Shout-Out” goes to senior Communication Studies major Sarah Hirsch for her recent work with the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and the Great Urban Hack SF: The Tenderloin.  According to Sarah, “Our mission was to, in the span of a weekend, plan and implement a project prototype to address a real need that the Tenderloin faces.  Our group decided to focus on the realm of ‘bad publicity’; i.e., the Tenderloin had become the ‘black box’ of San Francisco where tourists and locals alike are told to avoid at all costs.  But these negative stereotypes do little justice to all of the colorful people and incredible stories and personalities that exist there.  To that end, we wanted to create a ‘data set’ to humanize the Tenderloin.  More than that, though, our goal was to show just how similar we all really are.”

Over a two day period, Sarah and a team of “hackers” collected over 70 interviews and pictures from people in the Tenderloin area by asking them to respond to two questions: “What are you thinking about right now?” and “What do you need?”  According to Sarah, some of the answers were funny, some heartbreaking.  The team then designed a prototype website where they uploaded pictures, transcribed interviews, and put audio clips.  

Sarah was fully involved in this project, from the project planning to collecting and transcribing interviews (Aahhh, transcription!  Sarah probably had fond memories of Communication and Culture!).  She also worked on the website and is in the process of developing a blog to discuss the project more publicly.  You can check out the website here: www.weallneed.net

You can get more information about the event from their event website here: http://greaturbanhacksf.eventbrite.com/

You can read the blog post from the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts here:

Tomorrow, December 9th, is the art gallery opening at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, where all of the projects will be on display.  Read about it here: http://www.gaffta.org/2010/12/07/the-great-urban-hack-showcase-and-lights-on-market-launch/

Of particular note is that this project was not part of a class assignment.  This is something that Sarah did fully of her own accord (you know, with all of the free time she has as a college student in the midst of finals!).  Congratulations to Sarah, for dedicating her time and talent to such an important project! 

Sarah, left, hard at work (photo courtesy of www.gaffta.org)


Student Shout-Out: Cameron and Lisa in ASUSF Voices Concert

Some of you may not know this about me, but I love to sing.  The problem is that I am not actually good at it.  When I sing, in my head I sound like whoever originally sings the song, but evidently, if my husband is correct, I don’t actually sound like the original recording artist.  Today’s “Student Shout-Out” goes to two sophomore Communication Studies majors who evidently can sing: Cameron Byington and Lisa Colasanti!  How do I know this?  Because they are taking part in the ASUSF Voices Winter Concert!  The free concert takes place tomorrow, December 8th, 6:00-7:00 pm in the Presentation Theatre.  They will be performing pop, jazz, and Broadway showtunes.  If you need a relaxing break from studying, go and support Cameron and Lisa at the ASUSF Voices Winter Concert!