Arts Career Services - An Exclusive Interview

Meet Elaine Russo - Director of Career Services for the College of the Arts

Wonder how our students find their career direction in the arts? Supplementing the preparations from our academic programs, the College of the Arts now has its own dedicated Career Services, headed by Ms. Elaine Russo.

Ms. Russo was recently named Director of Career Services for the college, having been a professional staff member of the university since 1989, bringing a long and successful track record in Cooperative Education and Internships and through her previous position as MSU’s Associate Director of Experiential Education.

Ms. Russo works closely with our faculty and staff and interacts daily with undergraduate and graduate students of the college to advance their career development. Together with colleagues and the resources of the university’s main Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education, Ms. Russo promotes a wide range of Career Services offerings, including one-on-one counseling, interest testing, online tools, workshops, internships, Cooperative Education, and job fairs.

“I’m ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges associated with developing my role as Director of Career Services for the college,” says Ms. Russo. “It’s my job to nurture relationships with students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, employers, and community/business leaders.”

Ms. Russo also plans to tap heavily into technology resources generated by the main Career Center, as well as establish and broaden her presence in the college with customized workshops, events and networking opportunities.

As a way of further introducing Ms. Russo to the college community, we polled our students majoring in the visual, performing and communication arts to find out what’s on their minds and what they want to know. Here’s what they asked . . .

What resources can students tap into when looking for an on- or off-campus job?
(Kate Ascolese – BA Theatre Studies and BA Dance Education major)

Students can use our on-line job listing and mentoring system, Career Directions, when looking for on- or off-campus jobs, summer positions, or internships. For current undergraduate or graduate students, Career Directions can be used for sending a resume to employers over the Internet; as a tool for finding mentors; and more. Students simply use their MSU e-mail address and password to access Career Directions from the university’s Career Center web page.

How can a student best prepare for a job interview?
(Joe D’Angio - BFA Musical Theatre major)

Start by performing a self assessment - identify your skills and abilities; know things about yourself that make you a qualified candidate for the job; be able to discuss your skills, experiences, training and education that qualifies you for the job. Research the company or organization - search out the following types of information: history, size, locations, facilities, products or services, financial data, mission and goals. Use this information to demonstrate your knowledge and interest during the interview. Prepare answers to frequently asked questions and prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Rehearse -practice your responses; be aware of your facial expressions, handshake, body language and eye contact. Dress properly for the job that you’re applying for. Know who you’re seeing, have directions, know where you’re going and get to the interview on time.

What special skills can College of the Arts students bring to the current job market?
(Sandy Taylor – MA Theatre, Arts Management major)

College of the Arts students have specific talents and skills related to their profession or craft to bring to the current job market. In the brief time that I’ve worked with these students, I’ve learned that they demonstrate the following skills: good at creating their own opportunities; good at generating original ideas and creativity; flexibility; displaying initiative and drive; showing courage; demonstrating resilience. Success is rarely immediate. Whether the skill is painting, design, illustration, editing, writing, acting, dancing, or playing music, each student needs to be the best he/she can be.

In what ways can students use technology and social media to enhance their job search?
(Ashley Santillo – BA Communication Studies/Public Relations)

Students can use technology to gain faster access to information and job opportunities. Social media and professional networking sites are also excellent for building relationships, making new contacts and marketing yourself while job searching. Many networking and social media sites are free to use. Career Directions is Montclair State University’s own job board and mentoring site. Students can speak directly to MSU alumni about companies and careers. Professional and social media sites like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter help students connect and share with individuals and groups. Follow the Center for Career Services and Cooperative Education on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MSUCareerBuzz. JobWeb (www.jobweb.com), a service of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, offers career and job search advice for new college graduates.

For someone graduating with a BA in Broadcasting, what job possibilities are there besides those in the broadcasting field?
(Avery Kannatti - BA Broadcasting major)

There are several job possibilities besides those in the broadcasting field for someone graduating with a BA in Broadcasting. Apart from jobs within the network and cable broadcasting industries per se, jobs may be found in industries including the Internet, New Media, webcasting, podcasting and independent video production. You may need to gain expertise in computer and Internet technology to succeed in some of these areas. You can freelance or work for a corporate or private video production company. You can obtain entrepreneurial knowledge and experience through starting a small business and taking business courses. You can gain contacts in a specific industry of interest (e.g. develop relationships with wedding photographers in order to build a wedding videography business). There’s also the possibility of freelance or working for videographers. If you have an interest in teaching, you can obtain state teacher certification for high school teaching opportunities or obtain a PhD for college and university teaching. Whether the major is broadcasting or another area in the arts, I always encourage students to major in what interests them and choose a field for which they have a passion.

When is a good time to apply for internships? What internships do you offer for CART students?

(Kelly Jacobs – Communications Studies)

Beginning your internship search early is a good strategy to follow. Academic internships, for college credit, are usually completed in the Junior and Senior years. With more and more students recognizing the importance of internship experiences, it may pay to be an early bird. With a tight job market, it may also pay to complete one or more internships over the course of your college career. For instance, Communication Studies majors have secured internships in the fields of Public Relations, Advertising, Communications and Marketing, Sports, Television News, Entertainment, Event Planning and Art. Current companies include Sony Music Entertainment, Seventeen Magazine, NBC Sports, Whoop, Inc., Modulo, Madison Square Garden, Fox News, MTV Networks, Sarah Hall Productions, Telemundo and New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC).

How do I go about acquiring an internship for next semester? Does Montclair partner with organizations that I can contact?
(Amy Zboray – Fashion Studies major)

Use the following job search strategies to go about acquiring an internship for next spring: 1) Identify your work-related skills and interests; e.g. you should work on packaging and presenting your strengths and achievements. This includes creating a resume, cover letter and a professional portfolio. 2) Research companies for information about the internship opportunities offered by the company. Develop a list of the companies to apply to that match your interests and skills and submit your resume. 3) Use multiple job search strategies and resources. 4) Maintain accurate records, timelines and follow-up procedures. Make sure you keep track of when, to whom and where you sent your resume. Make follow-up calls. If offered an interview, reply as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. After an interview, always send a thank you letter to every person with whom you met.

Montclair State University partners with many employers in NJ and NY and even some employers outside of the NY/NJ metropolitan area. You can use the university’s online job listing site, Career Directions, to contact employers offering internships to Montclair State University students. Also, there are student chapters of professional associations that hold chapter meetings on campus. Examples of these organizations include the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and American Women in Radio &Television (AWRT). These organizations offer excellent networking opportunities.

What events should students who are interested in career services attend this year?
(Samantha Gallagher – BFA Animation and Illustration major)

Students who are interested in career services should attend any workshops, employer information sessions and on-campus presentations that their schedules will permit. The fall semester schedule can be found at www.montclair.edu/careerservices/studentservices/workshops.html

The fall Career Fair will be held on Thursday, November 5, 2009 from 2:00 to 4:30PM in University Hall, 7th floor, Conference Center.

The College of the Arts’ Career Services office is located in Life Hall, room 128A and is available to students, faculty and alumni. Ms. Russo can be reached at russoe@mail.montclair.edu.