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From Fair to Full-time Employment

AU alumni Kayla Fenner, Jade Ryan, and Ben Kessler were hired by public relations firm Meltwater Group after the spring 2012 Job and Internship Fair. Kessler will represent the company at this month's fair. Photo by Ashley Boney.

Because of her class schedule, Jade Ryan, SOC/CAS/BA '12, only had 45 minutes to attend AU’s spring 2012 Job and Internship Fair. But she made the most of it—walking away with an interview that led to a job offer from the PR solutions company Meltwater Group.

“I had marked down a few different people I was interested in speaking with, and I got at least three or four interviews, one being [with] Meltwater,” Ryan says of her senior year fair experience. “I ultimately went with Meltwater, whom I liked the most. … They help cater you to where you want to end up, and help provide you with whatever you need to be able to go there.”

Meltwater, which has 57 offices globally, a workforce of 1,000, and 23,000 clients, prides itself on a “fun, dynamic culture” that makes it a perfect introduction to the working world for young alumni, says Johnny Vance, managing director for the Meltwater Group. Meltwater employees work in “online intelligence,” helping clients understand how they’re being mentioned in traditional and social media and determining if that coverage is the kind they want. Employees build relationships with specific clients and “provide them with actionable insight” regarding their reputation and brand, Vance says. And because Meltwater has a vertical training model, all entry-level employees are guided into becoming managers, and will then be sent to other offices around the country or world to continue the training process.

As head of the company’s Washington, D.C., office, Vance is responsible for recruiting in the metropolitan area and has specifically focused on AU in the last year. After hiring three AU alumni from last spring’s Job and Internship Fair, Vance aims to hire five more employees to start in June. When filling openings left by promoted employees who recently relocated to New York, Chicago, and Buenos Aires, Vance said he will pay close attention to job-seekers at AU’s upcoming fair on March 26. Presentation is key, Vance stresses: Students must understand that actual job connections can occur from these interactions and should prepare themselves accordingly, he added.

PREPARE: utilize Career Center tools, videos, and events to prepare for the fair.

“Wear what you would expect to wear at the sort of job that you’re looking for,” Vance advises. “I’ve seen people ranging from the suit and tie with that executive presence, which is what we’re looking for, all the way down to a basketball jersey and a pair of jeans, which is unfortunately not what we’re looking for. … I think it’s really refreshing when candidates come up to me and have been on the Meltwater website … that’s a lot more conducive to productive conversation as opposed to just coming up and saying, ‘Tell me about Meltwater Group.’ It’s very easy to pick out, as an employer, the people who have sought you out.”

And that is exactly what Ryan; Ben Kessler, SPA/BA '12; and Kayla Fenner, SOC/BA '12, did at the fair: recognize Meltwater’s potential for young grads. All were interested in companies that worked with social media, marketing, and communications, and Meltwater appealed to them both for its intimate feel (the D.C. office has about 10 people total) and international presence (with offices in Europe, South America, and Asia). According to Ryan, Kessler, and Fenner, their professional experience has mirrored, in some ways, their undergraduate education at AU. The university is a tight-knit campus built on strong relationships between professors and students and with numerous opportunities to travel or volunteer abroad, much like Meltwater, which has a cozy D.C. office and often jettisons its employees to far-off destinations to build their management ability.

“The training I’ve received has really brought me to an experience level that is appropriate for people who are two, three, four, five years ahead of me,” Kessler said. “I feel like I’ve gotten a real kick start to my learning experience. … I’m miles ahead of where I thought I’d be after graduation.”

And one of the best parts of being employed at Meltwater is the shared connections and experiences between the AU alumni, who knew each other from classes, they said.

“Everyone is each other’s cheerleader,” Fenner said. “Seeing [Jade and Ben] grow, and have them be my cheerleaders as well as my co-alumni and my colleagues now—it’s really great to have that support, no matter if it’s an up day or a down day.”

Vance hopes to augment Meltwater’s workforce with candidates he meets at the upcoming Job and Internship Fair, and will keep his eye on promising undergraduates he, Ryan, Kessler, and Fenner met at a networking reception co-hosted by the Career Center, School of Communication, and Office of Alumni Relations on March 6. Participating in on-campus events and getting Meltwater’s name out to prospective employees is critical, he said. And being open-minded about your career path is similarly important, Fenner, Kessler, and Ryan said.

“People sometimes think, ‘I only want this kind of job, I only want to work at this company,’” Ryan said. “They’re very closed-minded in the kinds of jobs they’re applying for. There are tables at the career fair that are going to have lines of 20 people, and tables that don’t have very many people. But it’s very important to talk to [the latter group]—maybe an opportunity that you never would have realized will come to you.”

EMPLOYERS:
see who’s hiring (more than 100 organizations and counting).

The Career Center’s Job and Internship Fair is a biannual event that attracts more than 1,200 students and alumni seeking jobs and internships. Dozens of AU alumni, including Kessler, also attend to help their organizations recruit AU Eagles.