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Alumni News

Steering Students and Alumni in the Right Direction

Helping students and alumni navigate their careers

Posted in: Alumni News and Events

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As alumni and as Montclair State University employees, Adam Mayer ’00 MA (right) and Jeffrey Poulos ’15 MA (left) are passionate about student success. With this passion, they have created a career podcast called ‘Manual or Automatic: What Gears Are Driving Your Career.’ Both Mayer and Poulos received their master’s degrees in counseling. Mayer serves as the director of Career Services and Academic Programming for University College and Poulos is a career advisor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). The podcast, based on a car theme, is inspired by the duo’s passion for classic and muscle cars.

“The title of the podcast is a play on whether you are in cruise control and driving in automatic in regard to your career and professional development, or if you are driving a manual stick shift, in which you are in control of the gears – and paving the way to setting yourself up for success,” Poulos says.

The idea for the podcast started when Poulos, who has always had a love for radio, wanted to become involved in the Montclair radio station 90.3 WMSC FM. He got in touch with Anabella Poland, general manager of the station, and then presented the idea to Mayer, who was happy to be a part of the podcast. “The podcast also stems from our history of working together,” says Mayer. “I was a mentor to Jeff when he was an intern in Career Services at Montclair.” Their work chemistry can definitely be felt when you listen to their episodes, as they provide helpful tips on how to navigate a career.

Mayer and Poulos host and choose topics for their podcast by checking LinkedIn and career websites. They develop programs based on what they believe will benefit students and address their interests. They also make sure that their podcast topics reflect the current times we live in.

Since the recent shift in the workplace, Mayer and Poulos have dedicated some of their podcast episodes toward working during the pandemic. They often develop a plan for different topics to discuss during their podcast, but are always open to changing based on current events. “We had a completely different topic to discuss one night, but then we changed the episode to be about vaccination status in the workplace because of the recent current events regarding being vaccinated at work,” Poulos recalled.

In terms of covering timely topics, Mayer points out, “We shifted some of our discussions to focus on an episode that discussed social justice in the workplace and an episode on helping students navigate working from home.”

Episodes are 15 minutes and edited and produced by College of the Arts (CART) students. The Journalism JOUR 222 course is tied to the podcast, designed and taught by Poland. The course gives students hands-on, real-world experience in editing digital content. Students learn the components of podcast production, including: developing and pitching their idea, techniques for booking guests, interviewing styles, audio recording, sound editing and mixing, podcast launch and distribution.

“There is a lecture component and lab component,” says Poland. “I partnered with Jeff and Adam because the students need to work on two typical real-world timelines: weekly editing and distribution, and then long-term on their own podcast development and launch strategy. In five seasons of Manual or Automatic, the class has recorded and edited 55 episodes.” The state-of-the-art facility provides students with the opportunity of learning to use an audio board and allows guests to call in for the interview.

Mayer and Poulos also presented at a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conference and received great feedback from participants. “The pre- and post-evaluation showed a big jump in the conference attendees’ knowledge base,” Poulos said. “A lot of people connected with us through LinkedIn after the presentation.” This proved to be a great way to see how well their podcast and information was received. Some of the feedback they received included, “I’d love to learn more about the tech tools used for editing/sound” and “I really loved the podcast being attached to a class/experiential learning.”

Mayer and Poulos shared some great advice for students preparing to enter the job market. “Students can get ahead by making an appointment with Career Services before graduation, so that they can determine their career paths based on their major. Students should also remain connected to the University as alumni because benefits, services and networking opportunities don’t stop when you graduate,” Mayer advised. “Students should also be sure to take advantage of Hire a Red Hawk.”

While they continue to guide students and alumni in the right direction, they hope that their podcast grows in success as they drive engaging content. “I think in the near future, we would definitely be open and welcome to new collaborations with other departments and colleges throughout the University,”  Poulos notes.

In addition, Mayer and Poulos plan to expand the episodes to feature a range of interesting guests. “I hope we can do one or two episodes a season that will showcase an employer who is an alumnus/a of Montclair. I believe this will resonate with students and be very impactful,” says Mayer.

If you are interested in listening to their podcast, check out their episode playlist on soundcloud or on spotify. You can also connect with Adam and Jeffrey on LinkedIn.

Career Resources

Another place to check out career resources is MONTCLAIRconnect – the online alumni community. Log on today to view recorded digital programs, career workshops, and more. While you’re there, search the alumni directory for classmates, sign up for an alumni email account, and join a networking group! You can also access a broad portfolio of career resources including Hire a Red Hawk, recorded webinars and workshops, and more.

-Ashante R. Patterson