By: Karina Valdes
Over the summer, communication professionals from various companies including WLRN, ESPN, Miami Marlins, Miami Herald, and American Way have been networking over Zoom with students from the School of Communication during the Career Conversations Series. Hosted by the Stein Family Office of Career Services and Internships, the guest speakers have shared insights on what students can expect when entering the workforce, as well as opportunities within their respective organization.
“Even though the pandemic has altered our students’ summer job and internship plans, the Career Conversations Series is helping them be productive during their downtime. It’s also motivating them because it’s showing that there are still people hiring,” said Kebrina Maharaj, manager of career services and internships. “Even students who are not looking for a job or an internship right now attend the sessions to hear advice from people actually working in the places that they want to work,” she added.
Maharaj leads each session which begins with introductions and background information on the guest speaker and their organization. The conversations then take off in directions framed by topics including current events and developments within the guest speaker’s company.
“After we cover the news, we delve into the guest speaker’s journey and how they got to where they are. The students gain a lot of insight on the work required to be successful and what they can do right now to reach their goals,” said Maharaj.
According to Maharaj, the anecdotal stories shared by the speakers are what have made the Career Conversations Series successful.
“I tell the speakers to get personal,” said Maharaj. “Because you know that makes the best story and the students will remember the lessons much better.”
Celia Almeida, guest speaker from American Way, spoke about being the child of immigrants and how that affected her choosing of a major and the career she would eventually pursue.
“I started out as a psych major at [the University of Florida], because I didn’t know what to do. I really like psychology, but I always knew that I liked writing and I wanted to be a writer, but I thought that it was like a pipe dream and pipe dreams are hard for people like me because I come from an immigrant family,” said Almeida.
She began taking psychology classes, but got frustrated, took a semester off, then switched her major to English upon her return to university. After graduating, she began freelancing, something she says she should have started earlier.
“One of the hard parts of being a kid whose parents have no formal schooling is you don’t really know how to get into those networks, how to get into those worlds. I wish I had known about freelancing for all weeklies three years before I did,” said Almeida.
Maharaj notes that the advice coming from the experience of the guest speakers resonates with students and is motivating them to pursue activities that will make them that much more competitive when applying for jobs.
“During the sessions, students have asked questions that can be summed up by ‘What can I do today to get me where I want to be tomorrow?’ and that’s the message I am trying to impart to the students with these conversations. Listen to the advice of people working where you want to work to learn how to be proactive and make yourself competitive,” said Maharaj.
The Career Conversations Series are hosted on Zoom every Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. All UM students, alumni, faculty and staff are welcome to attend. Below is the information for the next two sessions.
Wednesday, July 15 at 2: 15 p.m.
Ashley Brozic, B.S.C. ’13, senior copywriter at TEAM Enterprises
Wednesday, July 22 at 2: 15 p.m.
Billy Corben, B.S.C. ’03, documentary film director and co-founder of Rakontur