Led by Dean Maurice Hall, Assistant Dean Erica Kalinowski, and Chair of the Communication Studies Department, Dr. Yifeng Hu, 17 Communications Studies students at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) made a trip on Tuesday, October 22nd to New York for a very exciting networking event with alumni that attended the college all the way back from when TCNJ was still Trenton State. Hosting the event was Paul Alfieri, graduate of the 1997 class, the year Trenton State became the College of New Jersey. Paul Alfieri is the chief marketing officer of Cadent, a marketing company that works to bring advertising to the digital world through use of media and the devices we carry in our hands every day. Alfieri hosted the students and alumni attending in a social space within his company on Broadway.
Soon after arrival, Dean Hall moderated a distinguished alum panel on “Communicating in a World of Fragmented Audiences and Multi-platform Experiences.” The panel was composed of Paul Alfieri (’97), Kenyatta Cheese (’96), Brian Duffy (’04), Jennifer Fowler (’96), Abby Hosonitz (’17), and Eric Johnson (’04). Each of these alumni gave insight to the students and other alumni attending on the more in-depth aspect of communication that students do not necessarily experience in the classroom. They were also able to share with the students their own unique experience, and assured them that they didn’t have to know exactly what they wanted to do when they graduated, and to keep their mind open, even if they already have a job.
Among the many things discussed, one thing that alumni stressed was broadening class loads. Abby Hosonitz, who started her postgraduate career at Fox News and now works at Goldman Sachs, emphasized: “… I was graduating with a specialization in interpersonal communication, only taking interpersonal classes, working at Fox News and having media terms thrown at me. Even if you don’t think a class will go well with your track in communication, it’s important to broaden your horizon because you never know where you will end up.”
The other members on the panel were able to stress the importance of internships and “bugging” companies as much as possible. Eric Johnson, who is a Senior Broadcast Producer at Good Morning America, reminisced of when he was applying for internships in college.
“I was making cold calls and emailing like crazy, but you have to do that, you have to keep trying to get your name out there,” he told the students.
Jennifer Fowler was able to give the students and alumni her own unique insight on communication work, as she is the Senior Vice President of commercial and marketing at Sony Music Entertainment. Fowler iterated the importance of how every communication job is vastly different depending on the genre. In her case, the importance was placed on the creative work rather than the brand name. “You don’t think about the brand, you think about the artist, and that’s how working in a creative environment is different,” she expressed.
After the highly interactive panel, Dr. Hu briefly shared the department’s current status, and invited ideas and perspectives from the alumni as it was in the process of transition. She then introduced student representatives from the department who presented interesting projects they were working on with faculty. The presentations received enthusiastic responses from the alumni, and were a great example of how TCNJ’s excellence continues and even improves today and for the future.
Following the student presentations, everyone held informal conversation over food and drink for the remainder of the night, and the students were given the opportunity to ask direct questions to alums, and connect LinkedIn profiles before heading back to the College. The event was a huge success and the students agreed that the connections made and the information retained was worth the hike from Ewing.
Special thanks to Angela Winterrowd (’02), Office of Development & Alumni Engagement, and The Dean’s Office of School of the Arts and Communication for making this event happen.
Article Credit: Chiara Mennonna