Students looking to get started on their careers can encounter a common problem: They can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job. To address that issue, Jenna Turman, assistant director for alumni programs in the University’s Office of Career Services , strongly encourages students to apply for internship opportunities that reflect their career goals. “Internships are the new entry-level jobs,” Turman says. “Every experience adds extra value and skills to a resume. I tell students to tailor the experiences they are getting to the job they hope to have.”
Career counselors in Turman’s office, as well as those in the schools and colleges, help students find internships that fit their goals. The office also assists Syracuse alumni who are already in the working world and seeking to advance their careers. “Unlike many of our peer institutions, Syracuse University offers our alumni free lifelong career counseling,” Turman says.
To tap into the remarkable strength of the Orange alumni network, the office has launched #HireOrange, which identifies job or internship openings from Syracuse alumni looking to hire a student or fellow Syracuse grad. “We want to see #HireOrange grow into a one-stop place to find career opportunities for students and alums,” Turman says.
In addition to accessing employment listings such as #HireOrange on OrangeLink , she advises students looking for internships to make and maintain connections with friends, fellow students, professors, and alumni who may be helpful in their search. For the young alumni featured here, those methods have paid off.
Networking is Key
When looking for internship opportunities, Isabel Firpo ’15, an industrial and interaction design (IID) major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts , combed job boards, searched websites of potential companies, and learned about openings from her professors connected to IID alumni. Firpo, a native of Oak Park, Illinois, had several internships during her five-year course. “At two different internships, the company I worked for had an SU alumnus of industrial design on staff, and that design team reached out specifically to our professors to advertise their openings,” she says.
Narrowing her focus to interaction design positions, Firpo researched opportunities in cities where she knew there was an established, or growing, tech scene where that position would be in demand. At an internship at Motorola Solutions in New York City, she was part of a design team working with user-experience designers and researchers to explore and refine concepts for public safety markets. The project focused on the challenges public safety officials face at large events. “A number of the designers on the team graduated from the IID program and that team collaborated with our fifth-year class on the public safety project,” says Firpo, who was a Remembrance Scholar. “After the project ended, they let our class know there were internships available for the following summer and encouraged us to apply.”
The internship allowed Firpo to apply many of the design processes she learned in school and to understand the value those design perspectives brought to the company. The experience also offered her the chance to meet many other employees and learn how the design team interfaced with different groups in the company. “All of these things were valuable once I started working full time,” she says. “I was honored and excited when the company extended an offer to me at the end of my internship.”
For Carly Getz ’13, the Newhouse School’s Tina Press and David Rubin Career Development Center was her go-to resource for internship information. “They helped me find a quality, year-round internship,” says the Syracuse native who majored in public relations and marketing management at the Newhouse and Whitman schools. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience—I had an amazing leader, meaningful work, and great pay. I wouldn’t have found it without the career services team.”
At a LinkedIn workshop taught by Kim Brown ’06, G’16, director of strategic communications and digital engagement in the Office of Alumni Engagement, Getz learned how to build relationships with alumni in a targeted geographic area. That knowledge helped her land an internship with Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan in Detroit—after she developed a list of Detroit area alumni working in public relations or marketing. One of the contacts, Andrew Hetzel ’90, vice president of corporate communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan , worked in health care public relations, Getz’s field of greatest interest. He helped her secure an internship in public relations, social media, and integrated communications with the insurance company. At the end of the internship, she was hired by the company for an entry-level position, and grew within the company as she gained experience. “I planned to move back to New York, but I loved my job—and Detroit—so much I stayed in Michigan,” she says.
Keeping Career Goals Clear
In searching for an internship, Anthony Caporizzo ’15 worked closely with staff of the career services office in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (E&CS). “Since the beginning of junior year, I made it known what type of path I wanted to take and the different skill levels I hoped to gain from an internship,” says Caporizzo, who majored in bioengineering. “I knew I wanted to stay with the bioengineering field. I had worked for a summer for an energy company, and that reassured me that I wanted to stick with bioengineering.”
Jennifer Meinen ’03, an E&CS alumna and employee of St. Jude Medical Inc., a global medical device firm in Austin, Texas, contacted Jennifer Fazio in the college’s career services office, seeking candidates for an internship with the company. Thanks to Caporizzo’s relevant education and clear career goals, Meinen recommended him for an internship with St. Jude Medical, which was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in January. “It was a quick referral from an SU alumna—someone I had never met—that got me the internship,” says Caporizzo, a native of Horsham, Pennsylvania. After an intensive interview process, which included shadowing company employees in a hospital surgical setting to gauge his comfort level with the experience, Caporizzo was accepted as an intern. “St. Jude didn’t recruit at Syracuse. They typically accepted candidates from a list of only three or four schools for this program,” he says. “Getting my name in the recruiting pool, thanks to Jennifer Meinen, meant a lot to me. I feel confident in saying I would not be with St. Jude if it weren’t for her and Jennifer Fazio.”