What I Wish I Knew Before I Left SHU

On Thursday, Nov. 12, Sacred Heart University’s School of Communication, Media, and the Arts (SCMA) program held a virtual event for its students and three SHU SCMA alumni called “What I Wish I Knew Before I Left SHU.” 

The three panelists were Ally Plezia, a class of 2020 graduate and current Executive Assistant at the Maury Show; Kelly Gilbert, a 2018 graduate who works in the public relations (PR) department for ACCESS Brand Communications; and Emily Archaki, a 2016 graduate and Content Specialist at ESPN. 

The three panelists discussed how their experiences at Sacred Heart have helped them in the professional world. They also answered questions from current SCMA students ranging from how to stand out to employers when applying to different companies to how each of their jobs has been affected by COVID-19. 

One thing that all three women agreed on was how their coursework helped them transition into the professional world. 

Plezia credited the production classes she took for easily being able to understand the atmosphere at the Maury Show, discussing that the experience in various production environments at Sacred Heart helped the transition go smoothly.

For Archaki and Gilbert, they stressed how important meeting deadlines are at their respective jobs. With both working at companies that depend on following trends, they discussed how crucial it is to meet their deadlines so that they do not miss any social media trends. They also credited previous SHU courses for teaching them to hit strict deadlines with their assignments.

“Overall, I thought all the panelists had a lot of informative messages that helped me feel more prepared to begin the job application process,” said senior Lindsey McCarthy. “The biggest takeaway I had was what Emily mentioned about how she uses the lessons she learned in the SCMA courses each day at work. It really made me feel more prepared going into our fields.” 

The panelists also agreed with each other when it came to advice on how to get into the desired industry that each student was interested in. 

One of the two biggest pieces of advice was to customize resumes to be more specific to the job or company students are applying to. The other was how networking is crucial for everyone, no matter what job students are applying for, with all three pointing out how networking was vital in the hiring process for each of their respective jobs. 

Another topic that was highlighted was how each of the panelists’ jobs has been affected by COVID-19 and what they have done to adapt to these uncertain times. 

When discussing the most challenging part of her job, Archaki explained how the uncertainty of sports being played each week hinders her team from making social media campaigns advertising the games. 

For Gilbert, making sure the brands she is working with have advertisements that are timely can be challenging considering how hard it is to navigate through the current media climate. 

Finally, Plezia stressed how interns at the Maury Show are crucial, but because of the pandemic, they do not have as many, which means each full-time employee has more responsibilities than usual.

“I thought our virtual event panel with SHU alumni in the PR and Communication industries went very well,” said senior Jayson Sementilli, President of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at SHU. “It highlighted all of the do’s and don’ts for the students that attended on how to stand out to employers when applying for jobs, as well as gaining insight into the future of communications from professionals.” 

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