Samantha MacDonald ’11 – An alumna from the Class of 2011 shares her experience.
Samantha MacDonald graduated from Fairfield in 2011 with a degree in international business and management, and promptly got a job as a mutual fund account administrator at BNY Mellon. “The job market was tough after graduation,” Samantha noted, “I took the opportunity I was given, I was lucky to find a job.”
A little over a year into her job, Samantha knew that finance was not the right field for her. She figured out that she wanted to work in public relations or advertising, but didn’t know how to go about making the change.
Deciding What to Do
Even after realizing that finance was not for me, it was difficult to decide where to go next. I learned that knowing what you don’t like is just as important to knowing what you do like. I decided to do a little “soul searching,” and combine my interests and strengths. I was always interested in brand management and marketing, and my strengths included writing and creativity. This led me to believe that a career in public relations or advertising would suit me well.
How Fairfield Helped
Fairfield had been an excellent resource when I was an undergraduate. I worked with Cath Borgman (director of career planning center) during that time, and she offered advice surrounding potential careers, interviews, and resume development.
After signing up for Fairfield’s “Boston Young Alumni Job Search Workshop,” I got in touch with the director of Alumni Career Services at Fairfield, Julie Tuozzoli, and started working directly with her regarding my career switch. From providing me with industry resources to helping me rewrite my resume and re-shape my LinkedIn profile, Julie was a tremendous help.
Networking, Networking, Networking
In my pursuit to change careers I explored many paths. First, I worked with Julie to re-shape my resume, cover letter outline, and LinkedIn profile. Then, I reached out to the Fairfield community. I found local graduates in the Boston area through the FAN (Fairfield Alumni Network). Everyone was very responsive and happy to answer my questions. I set up a few meetings and phone calls with people who worked in public relations and advertising.
Next, I made use of my personal network by reaching out to family and friends for advice or hints about potential job openings.
Lastly, I took advantage of workshops and networking events. Although not yet a member, I attended my first Pub Club (Publicity Club of New England) writing workshop. I networked with young professionals and got the chance to set foot inside a big Boston ad agency for the first time. I also attended a few networking/career events hosted by Fairfield. I connected with alumni in a variety of industries and received helpful advice. As a result of these experiences, I gained a great group of personal resources.
Although I hadn’t used it much before this experience, LinkedIn became an excellent resource as well. I began joining groups related to public relations and advertising, and reaching out to local Fairfield graduates. I was pleasantly surprised by the responses I received. Through one Fairfield graduate, I connected with a local woman who was starting a health non-profit in the community. It turned out that she was looking for a communications assistant for her launch. I needed the writing experience, and she needed some assistance. While at BNY Mellon, I simultaneously held a part-time internship with this local non-profit. It was tough to balance the two jobs, but well worth the experience.
A Full-Time Internship
I met a lot of helpful—and realistic—people on my journey to a new career. I quickly learned that public relations and advertising were difficult fields to break into. After a long haul of applying for jobs that I didn’t yet have the experience for, I realized that an internship might be my ticket in the door for this particular industry. Through traditional online searching, I found a full-time internship at Regan Communications Group, a well-known public relations firm with clients in the consumer, lifestyle and hospitality sectors.
I left my full-time position at BNY Mellon for this opportunity. As crazy as it sounded at the time, I knew that this would be my chance to make a career switch. For seven months, I served as a public relations intern, in which I worked on major client accounts in the hospitality and nonprofit sectors. I created and edited media advisories, press releases, news stories, and coverage reports for clients and special events. I was able to grow my knowledge of print, digital, and social media outlets by working on different writing assignments, media clips, and newspaper pitches.
After my internship experience, I landed a job as a copywriter/Internet marketing specialist at Web Solutions, a Connecticut-based web design, Internet marketing and branding agency. The experience has been very exciting and motivating – I love my new career!