Career Moves: Networking helps iMedia grad nab job
A recent Elon University iMedia graduate got his start at a Washington firm after turning to Career Services for networking and résumé prep.
Mich Donovan completed his Elon degree in 2010 after studying broadcast and new media, and one month later he was back on campus for the start of the yearlong Master's of Interactive Media program in the School of Communications. After the native of Fairfax, Va., completed his graduate studies in May, with the help of Career Services - and utilizing his new skills in website and mobile application development - Donovan landed a job at Corporate Executive Board in Washington, D.C.
That same week, his new team's senior web developer departed the company, thrusting Donovan into a new role that he tackled with gusto. Yet it wasn't the job responsibilities that he realized were different from what he learned in school - it was the environment of working with other professionals.
Donovan, who can be followed on Twitter at @mich_donovan, is the fourth person to be featured this year in a series of E-net profiles on the recent experiences of students and alumni who use Career Services within the Student Professional Development Center to not only find job and internship openings, but to prepare for interviews and improve applications with guidance from staff.
He answered questions recently from the Office of University Communications.
Tell me about the company and your current role there.
Corporate Executive Board is a multi-national research and consulting firm specializing in best practices for high-level executives in major corporations. I started my position in June 2011 and initially aided the publishing of new research to our websites. As fate had it, my first two days in the office overlapped with the last two days of our team’s senior web developer. My job quickly turned into filling in those shoes by developing new-to-world pages and assisting our team in building a digital strategy moving forward.
How did your interest in the position develop?
Faced with the challenge of living up to the expectations set by the exiting and more-experienced senior developer, I had to learn on my feet to be able to implement the desired functionality and design. In the months that followed, I built out my skills as a digital producer in only the ways that a real-life work experience can provide. As primary developer for my team, I found great satisfaction in bringing the message of our research, and the vision of our designer, to life. The thing about being a web developer is that you are the last step in the process, and the person who puts all of the concepts and ideas into their final state. You make or break the project, and having that type of responsibility is intimidating yet empowering.
What have you learned from your experience to date?
Coming out of Elon’s graduate program in Interactive Media, I was acclimated to a work environment in which everyone involved comes from similar perspectives and knowledge, as far as developing a web page goes anyway. In working at a major corporation, however, you are surround by an entire team coming from different backgrounds and motivations. Establishing clear communication across such a diverse team is crucial, as everyone needs to be well informed of the varying factors affecting any given challenge. It is easy to expect that everyone comes at an issue from the same direction you do, but this is just not the case. You are not the first person to work on this site, and you won’t be the last. This is not the bubble of building a personal website on your own time, this is a sprawling enterprise where multiple stakeholders are at hand.
Who did you work with in the Office of Career Services to help prepare for the job search process, and what help did you receive?
The Interactive Media program was instrumental in helping me prepare for my job hunt. Building my portfolio, designing my resume, making an overall career strategy, iMedia helped me assemble all of the assets I needed to find success. Career Services, and specifically Ross Wade, helped me use those assets to find a job sooner than I ever expected. As I wrapped up the school year and focused on my job search, I got an email forwarded from Ross from an Elon alumnus at CEB. By speaking with her and learning everything I could about the company and the position, one thing led to another and I was hired. As someone who always struggled with networking to get ahead in my career, it was the relationships I built through Elon’s Career Services that helped me get a job before even graduating.
How do you plan on using Career Services and the Student Professional Development Center in the future?
Nothing makes you feel more indebted to Elon and Career Services than getting hooked up with your first real job out of school. As such, I intend to spread the wealth and send whatever relevant job opportunities pass my way on to Ross to help out upcoming graduates. When it comes time that I’m ready to take the next step in my career, Elon’s Career Services site is probably the first place I will look, just to see what opportunities are out there. I’ve already gotten involved with the alumni association in my area and plan on helping them redo their website.
What recommendations would you share with other students and alumni about Career Services?
After I sent out about 10 resume/cover letters to various job openings I was interested in – I took another look at my résumé. There were 4 glaring typos that I had just never seen before, and of course I’d sent this to some of my "dream jobs." I was mortified and needless to say, I didn’t hear from any of them. When you’re putting your application assets together, test them with as many people as possible: Career Services, your teachers, your friends, President Lambert, anybody. You want to work out all of those little bugs, because details like that can easily get your résumé just tossed aside. Additionally, I’d say that Career Services isn’t there to find a job for you. Only you know where you want to go, and only you can take the steps to get there. Career Services only provides the guidance to keep you on the right path and to support you in your search.