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IAC building in Chelsea

Daytime street level view of the IAC (InterActive Corporation) headquarters in Chelsea where alumni entrepreneurs spoke with Cornell students. Photo: Albert Vecerka/ESTO Photographics

Alumni in NYC tell students about media careers during winter break

Tim Minton speaks to Cornell students

Tim Minton '79 from Zazoom ( speaks to Cornell students at the IAC building. Photo: Christa Downey.

Single-digit temperatures and subzero windchills Jan. 7 didn't keep a group of 13 Cornell undergraduates from trekking around Manhattan to learn about media careers from alumni. The group visited Cornellians at Random House, MTV Networks/Viacom and Universal Music Group.

The trip gave alumni opportunities to connect with prospective interns and potential employees, and the students made contacts that are already opening doors for summer and full-time employment -- such as the senior English major now in correspondence with Random House's television department.

Alumni like Gerald Howard '72, author of "The English Major Who Got Away With It," see these events as an opportunity to talk about the value of a liberal arts degree and to help boost student confidence in the job search. Howard says he gives back in this way "to save smart kids from the blind alleys and false starts I experienced in faraway 1972."

The trek through Manhattan solidified some students' interest in a particular area of media; for others, it opened their eyes to new possibilities. The trip ended at IAC (InterActive Corporation) headquarters in Chelsea with a panel of College of Arts and Sciences alumni entrepreneurs sharing tips on networking, job searching and being an effective intern.

"More than ever, a great education and better-than-average smarts are great tools for entering the media industry," said Marilyn Laverty '76, a philosophy major and owner and president of Shore Fire Media. "The way we do things this year or next year is very different from how we did it before. My staff of the future are those people who can answer the question: 'How should we do things today?'"

She also offered some advice on how to stand out in a tough job market. When writing cover letters, she said, "Remember, you are a human being and you are writing to another human being. Find a way to connect."

Participant Brianna Popp '15 said: "It was encouraging to hear from multiple alumni at the roundtable and throughout the day that employers in the media field do value a liberal arts education and trust that students with a liberal arts background will be successful in learning more formal aspects of the field on the job without the need of a graduate degree in journalism or advertising."

Daniel Jossman '12 said he most appreciated the opportunity to practice networking as well as the hosts' candor with their answers. He noted that events such as these help participants face and overcome their "networking nerves" while providing a fun opportunity to talk about careers candidly.

All the presenters emphasized the importance of cultivating relationships with alumni and others. Scott Waxman '90, Founder of Waxman Leavell Literary Agency, emphasized that interns should keep in touch with their colleagues and supervisors at their internship, in case their interests should ever again intersect.

The media networking event was one of many held over winter break to help Cornell students meet alumni in the fields of finance, law, government and policy. The field-specific events, held in New York City and Washington, D.C., were organized by alumni members of the A&S Career Connections Committee and were co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences' Career Services and the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development.

Christa Downey is assistant dean and director of career services for the College of Arts and Sciences.

NYC media career links:

Random House


Universal Music



Waxman Publishing

Shore Fire Media

Career Services links for alumni:

Arts and Sciences Career Connections

Career conversations with alumni

Cornell Career Services: Extern Program

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