Celebrating the Success of 2020 Graduates

In honor of the Class of 2020 Virtual Commencement on December 4, meet a few of the newly employed new Brockport alumni.

On December 4, SUNY Brockport will celebrate the Class of 2020 with undergraduate and graduate virtual commencement ceremonies. All are welcome to tune in at 6 pm on the Brockport website homepage.

While the Class of 2020 has been presented with a unique challenge, navigating the professional world through a global pandemic, hundreds of the recent grads have begun to pursue graduate education or enter into the workforce. If you follow along with the college’s #EagleEmployed social media series, you’ve seen some of their successes.

Get to know more about a few of the #EagleEmployed 2020 graduates:

Jared Rosenberg at a Career Fair Jared Rosenberg

Title: Account Manager at Cox Media Group in Atlanta, GA

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Broadcasting

What is day-to-day life like at your current job?

“I work at the company’s main media center in Atlanta with a focus on digital marketing. It is kind of hard to explain because I was hired into a role that was made for me. Cox Media Group didn’t really have a job that fit my skillset, so they created my role as an account manager. I often email and cold call external businesses and convince them to purchase advertising on the radio, Google, or Facebook.”

How did you find out about your current job?

“When I was a student, I reached out to David Cohen ’96, a SUNY Brockport alum, who was currently working at Cox Media Group, and they were able to put me in contact with the internship coordinator. I started my internship in the fall of 2019, and Cox kept bringing me back every semester until they told me they were interested in hiring me when I graduated in the spring. Then COVID hit, and there was a hiring freeze at the company. My sales manager kept telling me he was confident they would hire me once the freeze was lifted, and that confidence became infectious.”

How did the pandemic affect your job search and your current job?

“The hiring freeze was the biggest issue because even though I was confident, you still aren’t 100 percent sure until you are hired. I was worried that nobody would start hiring and I would be stuck in a vast wasteland where I was jobless.

I currently work from home most of the time, but I do get to go into the office occasionally. I am the type of person who goes in to work whenever I can, because I like meeting clients and talking to people. At home, I have very little motivation compared to working in person. Even if I am just at my computer all day at the office, I am still much more productive than when I am at home working next to my bed.”

What surprised you the most when you started working? What have you learned so far?

“One thing that sticks out to me is when my sales manager told me, ‘No is the second best answer you can get.’ Working in sales, you are told different variations of no all the time. When a client tells you no, you can then move on to someone else instead of wasting time on someone who isn’t interested, but they just don’t want to say no. Knowing that has really propelled me through my career.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to students graduating in 2021?

“Your résumé isn’t as important as you think. Employers care that you stand out and make an impact on them. People say that will happen at the interview, which is true, but only a small fraction of résumés will get an interview. You need to find a way to stand out before then. Be the person who is constantly calling and leaving a voicemail, and make them pay attention to you. It is easy for emails and voicemails to get buried, so you need to keep reaching out to try and stand out in as many ways as you can during this process.”

Gloria Schou in her graduation cap and gown Gloria Schou

Title: Clinician I at Hillside Children’s Center in Rochester, NY

Degree: Master of Social Work

What is day-to-day life like at your current job?

“Clinicians at Hillside are considered essential workers, so I spend most of my time in the office as a therapist working with young kids and children. I like working in the office because it improves my focus, and I am around if any of the kids on my caseload have a problem. I am also able connect with coworkers, and therapy with children is much more effective in person than online.”

How did you find out about your current job?

“During my last semester of graduate school, I applied to become a Youth Care Professional at Hillside Children’s Center. I was in that position for a few months and had access to Hillside’s internal job postings, and I frequently checked for any openings that included the need for a Master of Social Work (MSW). In early May, I saw a posting for my current position and applied the next day. I think the fact that I already had experience with Hillside worked in my favor in terms of getting me hired because I later found out that a lot of my coworkers vouched for me.”

How did the pandemic affect your job search and your current job?

“I was lucky that I immediately found a job after graduating with my MSW degree because I know a lot of people struggled finding one, but COVID-19 has impacted my current job a lot. More steps need to be taken to maintain safety, and overall, it just makes things harder. I did start the job in the wake of the pandemic, so it is hard to pinpoint what was different for a clinician before. This is all I know, but I find comfort in knowing that things will only become easier.”

What surprised you the most when you started working? What have you learned so far?

“I was really surprised with all the extra time I have. When I was a student, I was working two jobs, attending class, interning, and working on schoolwork. My schedule was constantly stacked. Now, I have a lot of free time to practice self-care, socialize, and really appreciate life. I was nervous to start a full-time job because, as a student, I feel you get a lot more leniency, but I felt Brockport really prepared me for a career. My current supervisor and co-workers are extremely supportive.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to students graduating in 2021?

“Building genuine relationships and connecting with people is so important. As I mentioned earlier, I had coworkers vouching for me behind the scenes — people I didn’t even know I made an impression on — which contributed to getting my current position. Be kind to people, and be authentic in your interactions with professors, current employers, internship supervisors, classmates, and peers. Remember that just by being your true self you bring a unique perspective to the table.”

Alena Piska portrait Alena Piska

Title: Business Support Specialist at BioWorks in Victor, NY

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies, minor in psychology

What is day-to-day life like at your current job?

“At BioWorks, I support customer service and organizational learning and development. I often give presentations that reinforce positive communication in the work environment. For example, I gave a presentation on self-care and its importance in the work environment.”

How did you find out about your current job?

“I applied to BioWorks back in March and had my interview the day the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Monroe County. The company was interested in hiring me, but there was so much uncertainty at the time that they couldn’t move forward with the process. I emailed them once a month to see if they would begin hiring again until I finally heard back in July that they were interested in hiring me.”

How did the pandemic affect your job search and your current job?

“The first few months after graduation were really difficult because I thought I would get a job right away. I applied to more than 150 jobs and only had three interviews and two job offers. Applying was hard because employers knew so little as to what was going to happen. I started to think, ‘What if it takes me years to get a job?’

Navigating the pandemic in a job in the field of communication can be difficult, but I am in a people-facing role for a reason. I love communicating and working with others, and I have had to work harder to find those connections and build relationships. It is important to get creative and try to build connections in different and meaningful ways.”

What surprised you the most when you started working? What have you learned so far?

“First, I was just surprised at how nice everyone is. BioWorks has such good culture because everyone is so welcoming, and they make it clear they want you there. Everyone believes you make a difference no matter how high or low your position is.

Second is that when you are in a job with no end date, it is very different from an internship. Instead of a three-month stint where you want to get the most out of everything, you need to be realistic and slow down on your goals. BioWorks taught me how to put procedures in place to develop long-term success.”

What is one piece of advice you would give to students graduating in 2021?

“Rely on the connections you have built. Your professors and other people at Brockport are a start. It wasn’t my résumé that got me my job and internship; it was who I knew. Also, have patience and be kind to yourself. There is no right way to be a new graduate. You don’t need to have it all figured out right after graduation. You are still young, and you have so much time ahead of you. Be patient and take your time learning.”

2020 Grads: Are you #EagleEmployed?

Share your success story with the Office of Alumni Engagement!

January 05, 2021