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Mace & Crown | April 26, 2018

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TruLife: “I majored in arts and letters, now what?”

By: Megan Stamper

On Tuesday Sept. 20, the Old Dominion University Learning Commons held a panel discussion titled “Trulife: I majored in arts and letters.” Five panel members from different backgrounds and career fields gave students advice on how to find that perfect career and more importantly how to score it!

The members were Janelle Smith, Cox Media; Laura Gwathmey, Director of Programs: Physicians for Peace; Reggie McCoy, Senior Parole Office Norfolk Police Dept; TJ McAndrews, Deputy Chief Services: Virginia Beach Fire Department; and Mark Lawrence, a graduate student at Old Dominion. The panel gave tips for graduating students entering the workforce in internships, resumes, interviews and skills.

The first piece of advice was that internships are a must. Janelle received her job with Cox Communications after doing a six month internship after college, and suggested for students to work as many internships in as many different job titles in his or her field as possible. Reggie recommended doing internships while in school to prevent the stress and rush of finding one after graduation.

The second piece of advice was in reference to resumes. Laura mentioned creating a resume that is unique and shows personality, “he (an applicant) put on his resume that he hated condiments, and that’s what we talked about during the interview, but we remembered him.” Laura said laughing. Janelle said that spelling mistakes on a resume are a huge red flag, have several people review a resume before it is sent out.

The third tip was in reference to interviews. Laura stressed the importance of informing the employer exactly what you want, emphasizing flexibility and following up with the company. She also emphasized flattering your employer, at the least he or she may be more inclined to reach out and help even if they are not hiring. Reggie stressed the importance of speech skills and diction, “An interview is a conversation,” he said, stay true to your personality. Sara Estefanos, international studies major at ODU said that one of the most important things she took from the discussion was learning how to sell yourself.

Kristine Hommersan, an international studies major said that the most important tip she took from the panel was “find out what your skills are and how to apply them.” Jenell discusses the importance of social networks in todays marketing world. “Knowing how to market a company via Facebook, Twitter, and other social network devices is an important and marketable skill that can even be used on a resume.” Concise, understandable, well written sentences are a key part of any field, and the best way to write well, is to write. Speaking is another large part of the career field and good speech, vocabulary, and diction can be helpful in interviewing, in presentations and in simple communication.

Laura, the sole panel member holding a graduate degree, gave a couple reasons why a master’s degree should be an option. One reason is the credibility that a master’s degree gives a person, especially someone young. She quoted,” Being that I am very young it does give me more credibility.” Also a very obvious reason she brings up is many fields offer a higher starting pay for those who have completed higher levels of education.

This panel discussion and workshops similar are great not only because they offer helpful information and insight, but a student has the opportunity to network and build connections. Networking and internships, followed by the rest of the tips given by the panel are the most proactive things a student can do to prepare for the future. It is never too late, get involved. Get experience. Get a job!

Photo taken by Rachel Chasin