editor's essay

Connecting for a Career

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At a time when others might have been frozen with fear, Kathryn Przybyla (BA ’11) bravely moved forward to set her career in motion.

Now social media coordinator for the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, Przybyla recalls the pivotal moment when, as a UB undergraduate communications major, she introduced herself to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer (BA ’70) at a UB Alumni event. As we learn from Jennifer Kitses’ profile of Przybyla, this gutsy move led to an internship on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

In landing a job or professional opportunity, it helps to have Przybyla’s moxie—but not everyone is built that way. If confidence is in short supply, serendipity can sometimes intervene. Last year, for instance, 15 UB students touring Bloomberg L.P.’s Manhattan headquarters ran into Vineet Aguiar (MS ’13), a software developer for the financial information and news giant, while waiting for the elevator. When he learned the students were participating in “Road Trip New York City,” an annual event sponsored by UB’s Office of Career Services, Aguiar stayed and chatted with them for 10 minutes before heading up to his office.

Buoyed by the chance encounter, Aguiar took on a more formal role in this year’s Road Trip, hosting a coffee chat with job seekers at a midtown café (see below). Meanwhile, other successful alumni were on hand at various events throughout the week to pass out tips and pointers gleaned from working at such marquee firms as Facebook, NASDAQ, Omnicom Media Group and Yelp.

“Most jobs today are found through referrals from people,” says Kristi Fields, an alumni career services officer who traveled to New York with the group this year to help facilitate alumni connections. The importance of networking underlies all of UB’s efforts to assist young graduates as they set off into the world. Often job tips and advice are imparted at Career Conversations, an ongoing Alumni Association program that takes place in New York as well as Buffalo, Rochester and, beginning this spring, Washington, D.C.

Almost as important as face-to-face interactions these days are connections made through social media. And so the Office of Alumni Engagement recently launched an initiative called “Twitter Takeover,” in which successful alumni like Przybyla chat with recent grads and students about their careers. In her Takeover this fall, Przybyla was asked how to break into the competitive field of sports marketing. She responded with Twitter’s mandatory concision: “Looking for jobs across all leagues, departments & sports will help. Ex: can start in sales, work towards marketing.” “What’s the golden rule of social media?” another inquired. Her answer: “Never tweet anything you wouldn’t want to be published on the cover of The New York Times!”

Finally, regarding her bold self-introduction to Wolf Blitzer on that fateful day several years ago, she gave what is perhaps the best advice of all: “Take a chance!”

Computer science student Jaideep Bhoosreddy posted some snaps on Instagram.

Manhattan Meetup

The Big Apple’s biggest corporations—and the alumni who help run them—hosted a group of students and recent grads during a four-day “New York City Road Trip” touting the city’s job market. Organized by Career Services and alumni staff, the itinerary included intimate chats over coffee, site visits to corporate headquarters and skills workshops hosted by alumni from such blue chip firms as Viacom, Facebook, Bloomberg, Yelp, Priceline and NASDAQ. Students also networked with a room full of NYC recruiters and, at a young alumni panel, picked the brains of recent graduates for insider tips on how to live and work downstate. The main attraction was a Career Conversations event that connected experienced alumni with students and recent graduates of all majors interested in launching their careers, finding internships or connecting with career mentors.