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Alumnae offer career advice

Hillary Mangiaforte and Rebecca O'Neil | Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Four Saint Mary’s alumnae visited their alma mater Monday to talk about professional networking and social media at a panel discussion in the Student Center.

The panelists were Janelle Schenher, a 2000 alumna, Angela Rupchok-Shafer, a 2003 alumna, Meaghan Veselik, a 2011 alumna and Corrie Mieszczak, a 1997 alumna. The  Career Crossings Office sponsored the discussion.

Mieszczak, owner of Soaring Winds Marketing and a marketing manager for Chicago-based consulting firm Aptude, recalled her college years without some forms of modern communication and social media.

“I didn’t have email when I was in school,” Mieszczak said. “I didn’t make one until grad school.”

Compelled to reenter the job hunt after having her first child in 2011, Mieszczak said she realized she needed to acquaint herself with the modern job search.

“People were finding work in an entirely new way,” she said. “These days, companies use technology as a recruiting tool.”

Mieszczak explained the importance of using potential employers’ websites to determine if they reflect personal values like social responsibility. She reminded students networking is key in cultivating new relationships and encouraged utilizing social media outlets like LinkedIn and Twitter.

Schenher, an account manager at Chicago-based marketing firm the Weinstein Organization, said as members of a younger generation, current college students have an incredible advantage once hired.

“You guys can teach your elders,” she said. “You have no idea how lucky you are. This stuff is free. There’s no excuse to not use it to your advantage.”

Veselik, a communications assistant at Notre Dame’s School of Architecture, said for those born into the Internet generation, “using LinkedIn or Twitter comes pretty easy. It’s almost intuitive.”

Even a basic knowledge of Facebook makes a person employable, Veselik said.

“Half of what I do for my job is on my iPhone,” she said.

Veselik said she was initially unsure how effective establishing a Twitter account for the University’s School of Architecture would be, but she deemed it successful after an influx of alumni began following it.

“Social media allows potential employees to hear about you and look for you,” Veselik, whose boss found her through LinkedIn, said. “My boss was a Saint Mary’s alumna and she wanted someone with the same education background and values as she.”

Rupchok-Schafer, a social media and constituent engagement manager at Church World Services in Elkhart, Ind., said social media aptitude is a necessity in the current job market.

“If someone doesn’t have a Twitter handle, I won’t even consider employing them,” she said.