Young alumni share career advice with students in Homecoming events

Want to get a head start on your career before leaving campus? Start networking now. And when you do apply for jobs, don't send a generic cover letter. Research the company. Alumni from the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and the School of Communications shared advice Friday in "wisdom sessions" for current students as part of Homecoming 2009.

The School of Communications hosted its alumni in Studio B, where current students filmed the discussion for broadcast on ESTV. Business alumni addressed questions from students, faculty and other alumni in the LaRose Digital Theatre of the Koury Business Center.

At both sessions, panelists encouraged students to make connections with employers and other alumni at any opportunity. Jobs may or may not pan out, but leaving potential bosses with a positive impression can only be a good thing, they said.

They also talked about the biggest shock of living on their own post-graduation. Making a budget. Having more free time. Finding ways to socialize outside of work with new people in a big city. All were topics in the School of Communications panel, as were reflections on what alumni would do differently during their Elon studies knowing what they know now.

“If you can, study abroad,” said Leanne Jernigan ’07, an account executive with Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, D.C. “It’s hard to go abroad when you’re not in college. You don’t have the money and you don’t have the time.”

Alumni also discussed their alma mater and how professors at Elon prepare students for life. “Elon professors get you to think critically,” said Travis Lusk ’05 during the School of Communications panel. “That’s a skill that really served me well.”

Love School of Business alumni (from left): Allison Ellmers Lagstrom ’07, Kristin Smith ’08, Ryan Quinn ’06 and Erika Lamanna ’09.

Other tidbits from the outside world? “Good enough” doesn’t cut it. Many people depend on the work you perform in the workplace, alumni said in the Love School of Business forum, and where “all I need is an 85 or a 90 on this paper” to pass a class is a common college attitude, employers need 100 percent effort.

Failure, they said, can also beneficial. Learn from mistakes made on the job.

“When you do mess up, take responsibility for it,” said Ryan Quinn ’06 at the Love School of Business forum. “There have been times where something goes wrong and I made any excuse in the book for why it wasn’t my fault … Own up to it.”

Both panels concluded with a reception for alumni and students to – what else? – network.

Panelists included:

School of Communications
Travis Lusk ’05, CBS Radio in New York City
Leanne Jernigan ’07, Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, D.C.
Lauren Gadd ’06, freelance cinematographer in Los Angeles
Andrew High ’07, press secretary for U.S. Rep. David Price (North Carolina)
Lauren Trucksess, ’08 producer/video journalist for News 14 Carolina
Chris Ford ’09, news assistant for live production at CNN in Washington, D.C.
Audrey Seagraves ’02, World of Good Development in San Francisco

Martha and Spencer Love School of Business
Ryan Quinn ’06, Oak Hill Investment Management
Kristin Smith ’07, Credit Suisse
Allison Ellmers Lagstrom ’08, Ernst & Young
Erika Lamanna ’09, Ph.D. candidate in economics at Vanderbilt University


Elon student Crystal Moyer (left) moderates the School of Communications alumni advice panel featuring (seated, from left) Leanne Jernigan ’07, Audrey Seagraves ’02, Lauren Gadd ’06 and Chris Ford ’09.

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