Plan A: Paige at YouCaring

I’m excited today to share a blog post in a category we haven’t featured for awhile… “Plan A.”

“Plan A” highlights students who have a job lined up before graduation! I know that when you are a graduating senior, it can seem like everyone else has their life after graduation all figured out. Not true! Most people don’t! But there are a few, like newly minted alum Paige Kutilek, who had a job lined up before graduation, and I think it can be helpful to hear how they did it! So I asked Paige to fill us in…

USF COMS alum and YouCaring Associate Content Manager Paige

USF COMS alum and YouCaring Associate Content Manager Paige

“I started working at YouCaring in May of 2015. YouCaring is a crowdfunding website for humanitarian purposes based in downtown San Francisco. As a junior I was aware that it was time to start getting some hands on job experience so I signed up for the Communication Studies Internship class over the summer. I have always loved to write so I decided to look for a position in that field. As luck would have it YouCaring was the first company I applied to and interviewed for, and within a week I had the job. And for the past year I have been working on the Marketing Team and as a Content Creator intern. This means I create different pieces of media that relate to our site, most notably writing blogs and producing videos.

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Plan A: Natalie Borges, fortyseven Communications

Another day, another USF Communication Studies success story! Today we are featuring recent graduate Natalie Borges, who is sharing the story of how she landed a job before graduation at fortyseven Communications.  Check her out!

“I always knew from the beginning of my college career that I wanted to have a job when I graduated. I was not quite sure about what it would be or where I just knew that I wanted to be employed outside of the restaurant industry and have a real 9 to 5 job. Throughout my 4 years at USF I participated in academic clubs, was treasurer to Lambda Pi Eta, was part of the orientation team for two years and was a team leader for one of those years, and most importantly had internships. I had a total of four internships under my belt by the beginning of my last semester at USF. By this time I knew that I wanted to work in public relations in the entertainment industry and my internships had reflected my desire to work in the entertainment world. I had interned at ABC 7, Rrazz Entertainment Group, Eli Blair Media, and OM Records. Although they weren’t PR internships they taught me a lot and opened a lot of doors. I think internships are the most important thing an undergrad can do because not only of the networking and resume building but it gives you real life experience in the work world. Interning is something I suggest for everyone, talk to professors, peers, go to the career center and find one they make a difference.

Graduation Day! Natalie's on the left, COMS major Kelly Sanders on the right, friend in between!

I started my job search in February applying to any PR firm I found across the web or had heard of. A lot of my applications did not get responses but some of them did and I went on a few interviews but did not get the jobs. I did not let this discourage because I was really determined not to give up. On March 2nd I came across an ad on Craigslist for fortyseven Communications (yes it is lowercased it is not a typo) who was hiring for an entry level position at their PR firm. The ad had a brief description of what the company was and what the position entailed. I almost did not submit my resume and cover letter because it was a video game and entertainment PR firm and I do not know anything about video games. However, I figured applying wouldn’t hurt anyone so I submitted my resume along with my cover letter to the craigslist ad (or as I called it ‘the blackhole’). A whole month had passed and I hadn’t heard anything I figured that they had passed on me because I was not qualified for the position, but on March 6th it all changed. I was called by Teresa a PR Manager at their LA office and she wanted to conduct a phone interview with me. We scheduled a phone interview and after the interview she said she would be in touch. Three weeks later I was home for spring break in LA when Teresa called me and wanted me to come in for an in person interview in their SF office. Since I was in LA at the time they had me come into the LA office and I interviewed with three managers, two directors, and the two founders and of the company who coincidently were in the office that day. I guess you can say the rest is history; I received a call from Sibel the president and founder of fortyseven two days after my interview offering me the position.

Since I was still in school I started out part time as an intern/trainee and when I graduated I would become an account coordinator full time with salary and benefits. Since graduation I have begun working at fortyseven fulltime earning a good salary and awesome benefits. I am currently working in the SF office but we have offices in LA and NY so if I ever wanted to transfer I have the opportunity to. Working as an account coordinator is amazing I am currently working on three accounts, Warner Brothers, Disney, and EA are my clients. It is surreal that I get to work with such amazing companies so early on. I also assist on the GDC team which puts on the Game Developers Conference here in the states and Europe. Currently we are getting E3 together which is a giant video game convention in Los Angeles for industry people and celebrities. I work 9 to 6 Monday through Friday in our office right by the ballpark, the views are amazing from my window. I get to take my dog to work with me on some days, dress casually, and have a free lap top. The company gives everyone lap tops to use so we can work at home if we need. PR consists of a lot of writing and telephone interactions.  A normal day for me is about 4 conference calls, a few pitch calls to the media, creating coverage reports, and drafting press releases, pitch letters, and sending out assets to the media and game sites. It’s a lot of work , sometimes the clients demand a lot but the work environment is great and my clients and co-workers are wonderful.

Recent grad Natalie with a puppy! So cute!

I feel very blessed to have a job after graduation because I know not everyone is as lucky. My best piece of advice is to not give up and to intern. Intern to build your resume and people skills and follow your heart. I know it can be tough at times but you have to keep trying to reach your goal. It was a month long process of interviews and uncertainty with fortyseven, it was horrible and I thought I was never going to get an answer but you have to stay positive and apply everywhere because you never know who is going to find you.”

Great advice, Natalie! Thanks for sharing it with us and congratulations on your exciting position! We are so proud of you!


Plan A: Natalie Baryla, Yammer!

My e-mail has been flooded with questions about why there haven’t been any blog posts for a few days (just kidding, but I bet someone out there noticed, right?).  In any case, we are back in full swing with today’s “Plan A” featuring recent Communication Studies graduate Natalie Baryla!  Remember that the goal of these posts is to share information from those recent grads who already have the next stage of their lives planned out… their Plan A is in place!  Natalie just began her full time position as an Associate Training Program Manager at Yammer Inc. here in San Francisco.  If Yammer sounds familiar to some of you, it is because Natalie talked about her internship there in an “Internship Ideas” post several months ago.  I asked Natalie to share with us how she came about being hired full time at Yammer and what advice she has for our students.


Yammer's new Associate Training Program Manager, Natalie Baryla, BA!

“I’m not sure if anything completely tied to academics really led to me getting the job, rather it was the skills that I learned through going to school that helped me.  I started interning at Yammer last February when I saw the job posted on the USF career site. I put in my resume and got a call back. I didn’t know much about Yammer but after I googled the company it sounded like a cool place to be. I originally got hired for a specific lengthy project that was basic data entry, which took about eight months but when it was done, I, and the other interns were rewarded and put on more projects.

Yammer started hiring rapidly at the beginning of the year and we only had one person doing all the training. Seeing the need for assistance, I approached the director of field enablement during one of our happy hours and offered my help to her. Within a few weeks I was writing training materials for her and got moved to be a training specific intern. Eventually I started helping with our onboarding process, and I am starting a position at the end of this month as an Associate Training Program manager where I will keep writing training material as well as training our new employees. I am extremely excited to start this role as Yammer is a great place to work and I have fallen in love with the place over the last year.

My advice consists of a few key points:

#1: Use the USF Career Center! Seriously, there are amazing and will help you craft a resume that will definitely help you land any internship.

#2: When in school look for jobs that will give you actual experience. No one in the business world is impressed that you were a sales associate at Urban Outfitters, get a job or internship that is relevant to what you want to do after graduation.

#3: Once you get an internship keep a positive attitude. When I was being hired for my full time position the main reason I was hired into that role was because of the attitude I had towards my job. As my manager put it: I have little experience but my great attitude and willingness to learn definitely makes up for that.

#4: If you don’t know what you want to do after graduation, try something new. Last February I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. At one point I was even thinking about law school because I was just that clueless. I was looking for a job and the tech industry was definitely something new for me, and who would have guessed that it would turn into where I want to be after graduation.

Good luck to all the new graduates and soon to be graduates!”

Thanks, Natalie, for the great advice!  I remember several of our pros from “Pizza with the Pros” talking about how a great attitude and willingness to learn goes a lot way (and so does the a bad attitude… just in the wrong direction!).  Congratulations on your position!  We’re so proud of you!

Hey recent grads… did your Plan A work out?  Contact me at edoohan@usfca.edu to be featured!


Plan A: Natasha Bojkovic, BA!

Today we are profiling newly-minted graduate Natasha Bojkovic’s “Plan A”!  Many of you may know that Natasha was not only a Communication Studies major, but was also a Dance minor.  Natasha will be studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, specifically to pursue a Diploma in Dance Studies.

I asked Natasha to tell us about why she decided to go to Trinity Laban and study dance: “Part of the reason I decided to apply to a program in London is because my parents are from London and my extended family still lives there. It’s a place I am both familiar with and curious about.

As far as deciding to apply to a dance program instead of graduate school immediately, the decision was based on what I want to learn at this exact moment in my life.  I would very much have liked to double major in Dance and Communication Studies but did not find the time, so I majored in Communication Studies and minored in Dance. I would like to get my master’s degree but at this point in my life I do not feel ready to decide between applying for a master’s in a communication-related field or a master’s in performing arts… I’m hoping taking this year to devote myself to dance will help me decide.  There is a lot more I want to learn about performance, and I need a lot more physical technique training if I plan on pursuing a career in dance.  I have a sneaking suspicion that whatever I decide to pursue in graduate school it will involve of combination of the two (the possibilities of which USF has already helped me explore!).”


Natasha dancing a West African dance at USF last year

I also asked Natasha to tell us about how she found this program: “I found out about Trinity Laban from a prospectus that was sitting on a table outside the dance office in Koret. I kept it as an option in the back of my mind, did a little bit of research, but did not really consider it a serious option until I saw a poster for an audition they were holding in San Francisco in November.  I was nervous but the dance faculty at USF encouraged me to go for it, what was the worst that could happen? Along with auditioning and speaking with Laban faculty, the application process included two essays, two recommendation letters, all of my grades, and a video of me performing in the USF fall dance concert. I was accepted in January.  I am excited to spend 8 hours a day 5 days a week dancing! I will be taking modern and jazz technique classes, along with choreography and potentially even a teacher training course.”

Natasha is one of those few graduates whose Plan A is already in place, so I asked her what advice she has for other soon-to-be or recent grads: “I advise people to be curious and take chances, apply not only to programs you are sure about but long shots as well. What is the worst that could happen? And if you get stuck, the faculty at USF is more than willing to help you figure out where you are really going, and what the best way to get there is.”

Thanks, Natasha, for the advice and information!  We are so proud of you!  Good luck in your dance program!


Plan A: Emma Gallagher

A conversation with a student last week, that reminded me of similar conversations with other students, has led to a new category on the blog… “Plan A.”  For those of you who are graduating who are not quite sure what your future holds, you are not alone.  In fact, most students are in your same position.  You are wondering if, how, when you are going to find a job, if you can afford to live on your own or if you are going to have to move back in with your parents, should you go to grad school, et cetera.  In short, most students aren’t quite sure how to answer the (often dreaded) question of: So what are you doing after you graduate?

Most of the time when students come into my office to talk about life after graduation, they don’t understand how a fellow student already has a job lined up or already has been accepted to a grad program.  How is that possible? What did they do to already have an after graduation plan in place?  So, a new category of blog post was born to help demystify the process.  We’ll be featuring students whose “Plan A” has worked out!  So although this isn’t the norm, I think it will be helpful to hear from these students.  I’ve asked them to share their story and advice.

First up, graduating senior Communication Studies major Emma Gallagher.  Emma is an Assistant Brand/PR Manager for R/West, an advertising and public relations firm with offices in Portland, OR and right here in San Francisco. An aside: how “San Francisco” is Emma?  She takes a cable car to work!  Emma is working part time until she graduates, when she will work full time.  She even has a business card already!

Emma, smiling and taking time to enjoy the scenery because she has a job lined up already!

I asked Emma to talk about the things she did as a student that she thinks led to her getting a job lined up before graduation.

  • “I had worked as a full time staffing coordinator for 5 years, managing over 100 people while attending USF and I think that experience set me apart in a unique way.
  • As a student I tried to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible so over the past four years I was involved in: Lambda Pi Eta as a board member, wrote and presented at three research conferences, worked as a research assistant, had two PR internships, and worked to get good grades which allowed me to be on the Dean’s list and graduate with honors.
  • I think that being able to summarize the above experience concisely in a resume is something that interviewers find very impressive.
  • Also make sure that you establish positive relationships with Professors in case you need a letter of recommendation later down the line.”

I also asked Emma to tell us the story of how she got this position… when she started the job search (a question a lot of you students out there have!), and why she decided to accept this position.

“I started the ‘job search’ in March, because my goal was to have a job lined up before graduating. I started reaching out to my previously established contacts (and Professors) to let them know I was looking, what my plans were and if they would recommend any specific company or contacts. I researched PR companies that I was interested in and reached out to them through their websites, either replying to job postings or emailing point blank to start a conversation. At the time I was working at my internship so also notified them (in a formal letter) that I was looking for a full time position so they would keep me in mind with any future openings. I started searching Craiglists a few times a week and applying to job postings where my experience fit the description (or was close).

As a result of this work I went on a few interviews (in person/ over the phone) and got alot of great advice and recommendations. In the end R/West, who I had applied to from a Craiglist posting called me for a phone interview, and a week later followed an in person interview with the owner. Three days after meeting with him I got a call from them offering me the position. (Part-time until graduation, then full time on salary with benefits). Through my research of the company and the interview process I knew that it was a company I would love to work for, therefore I jumped at the opportunity! That same week my internship spoke to me about possibly continuing with their company but I decided to sign on with R/West, which has been amazing! They flew my to Portland to meet the employees in there main office and I really like the people in the company (which is a big factor to consider). The best part is they are a dog friendly company and I get to bring my dog to work with me!”

Every day is "Take Your Dog to Work Day" for Emma at R/West!

Emma’s already passed along a lot of great advice, but here is a bit more: “My advice would be to start the process early on, do something every week to further the search, follow up with thank you’s and spread the word to professionals you know that you are looking and what your focus is.  Even if you are not planning to go to grad school take advantage of USF opportunities! They really add to your skill set and resume.”

Congratulations Emma!  We are so proud of you and all of your accomplishments!  Emma shared some excellent advice about things you can do to help make your “Plan A” a reality!