Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 9:50 am | Partly Cloudy 62º


UCSB Alumni Return to Provide Major Career Advice to Communication Students

33 alumni panelists give students inside tips on the paths of their professions

Hundreds of students, a cadre of powerful alumni and a dedicated contingent from the UCSB Department of Communication gathered Saturday for the third annual UCSB Communication Career Day.

The day brought students and alumni together in a series of panels that highlighted the advantages afforded by the communication major and included a list of successful alumni from the department. Activities were co-sponsored by the Department of Communication, the Alumni Council, MuniServices, UCSB Extension and the Communication Association at UCSB.

“The event,” as described by Communication Department chairwoman Linda Putnam, “allows students to understand what is unique about the communication major lens and how they can market their degrees in a variety of jobs. It is important to look at what industries are represented here — finance, high-tech companies, nonprofits, entertainment. It’s an amazing variety.”

One early success of the program is Marley Pelta. A 2010 graduate of UCSB in communication, Pelta served on one of the alumni panels. She attended the event for the past two years as a student and had connected with Laura Roenick, Class of 2005. Roenick works for United Talent Agency and has been an alumni panelist in past years. The connection helped Pelta secure a job with United Talent Agency, where she started this past year. Roenick also serves on the Communication Department Alumni Council and was instrumental in securing many of the alumni speakers for the day.

Professor Ron Rice summed up the event in this way: “You come away from this and you are just blown away by the quality of the alumni involved. They are incredibly insightful, incredibly thoughtful in responding to the students. Our students are being exposed to some of the most amazing people and they are people just like them. These are people who went through their undergraduate work here, in this major.”

The list of alumni panelists reads like a Who’s Who in entertainment, high tech, public relations, law, marketing and management. Class of 1983 alum Debbie Miller, executive vice president of worldwide marketing for CBS Films, appeared on two of the panels offering advice on how to be noticed when applying for a position and how to stand out once a position has been secured.

Joining her was Scott Hennessee, Class of 1999, who hosts Eye on the Desert and serves as sports director at KPSP in Palm Springs. Hennessee’s story underscores the value of hard work and determination that defined his tenure at UCSB.

Students listened attentively for job and career tips.
Students listened attentively for job and career tips. (UCSB Department of Communication photo)

“Students are making and changing career choices based upon these invaluable interactions,” said professor Anna Laura Jansma, who was instrumental in organizing the event. “They are astounded at the array of expertise available to them. A UCSB communication degree offers limitless possibilities. Our alumni inspired confidence in our students and offered guidance needed to realize their potential.”

A total of 33 alumni panelists offered perspectives on employment opportunities for communication majors, counsel on how to enter a given profession as well as tips for success in the workplace. Three participants from Google explained the unique opportunities available there.

“It’s not a company that only hires engineers,” explained Mary Shirley, Class of 2007, who is a senior account manager at the technology giant. Shirley echoed a common theme of the day, that there really is not one traditional path for communication majors or even a given career.

Students, panelists and representatives from the Communication Department all praised the value and success of the day’s program.

“My hope for the alumni program is that we keep giving back and giving forward,” Putnam said. “We are doing both of those through this event. We are trying to train the leaders of tomorrow and we are confident our alumni can give back in so many ways — their knowledge, their experience and their service.”

For more information on the program or the UCSB Department of Communication, contact Putnam at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Tim Durnin is a Noozhawk columnist and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to read his columns.

UCSB alumni in the field of public relations spoke to a full classroom of students eager for advice on how to start their careers.
UCSB alumni in the field of public relations spoke to a full classroom of students eager for advice on how to start their careers. (UCSB Department of Communication photo)

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