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Current Her Campus Oswego Campus-Correspondents Jordyn and Kailey sat down with some HCOZ alumni to catch up on all things post-grad and careers! The alumni who attended the Zoom interview on Monday were Ashley, Melissa, Theresa, Tori, Mackenzie, and Katie. Their Oswego graduation dates range from the Fall 2018 semester to Spring 2020. Each of them held EBoard positions during their time with the club, including Katie, Melissa, and Tori who are former Campus-Correspondents. These women have taken diverse paths after undergrad and offered great insight to so many aspects of life after graduation. 

The questions included in this interview were fielded by our current Her Campus Oswego team. Our discussion was centered around how our alum have benefited from their experience in HCOZ in terms of career building and life in general, as well as any advice they had to offer. Although our discussion derailed a few times, and most commonly landed on Twilight, we had an amazing talk about confidence, perseverance, and the power of female friendships.

How relevant is your experience in HCOZ to employers? Do they ask you to talk about it? Does it have bearing on what you do in your job today?

Ashley: Involvement in HCOZ actually helped land me the position I have today. My boss was super interested in the fact that I ran the instagram account for the club, as he was hoping to hire someone that could revive and run an instagram account for our office. So Instagram management has become an actual role in my job. 

Melissa: I work at a large media company based in Boston, where HC headquarters are located, so when I was interviewing for my job, they recognized my experience with HC and were impressed with my involvement. After landing my job, our hiring manager actually mentioned that they always like to hire people who have HC on their resume because they’ve had great experiences with those who did it in college.

What is your fondest memory of HCOZ?

Ashley: I love to look back on all the fun team bonding activities we would do like FriendsGiving and Rock Painting. We always had such a good time, it was a great group to be apart of. 

Melissa: I have too many to pick one in particular, but I met some of the best people at Oswego by being a part of HCOZ. Girls who I will always consider to be my friends came from my involvement in the club. 

Theresa: Fashion Week! We all went down to NYC, dressed up, and just had a lot of fun. There was more fun in the trip itself than the event hahaha. One of my best memories from college

Do you feel as though your time as part of HCOZ has prepared you at all for some of the challenges you have encountered in your current job?

Ashley: I would not say that it has necessarily helped prepare me for challenges in my job, but it certainly has helped prepare me for life in general. I was so shy and quiet before I joined HCOZ, the club really helped bring me out of my comfort zone and my shell. It helped me grow as an individual, and helped strengthen my interpersonal skills. 

Melissa: Yes, but mainly because I work in journalism. Being a part of HCOZ, I gained familiarity with meeting deadlines and having my writing online, where anyone could read it. Because of this, I gained confidence in both my writing and myself, like Ashley mentioned.

Theresa: Because I held an e-board position, I got a better understanding of what it takes to be a leader and oversee others. I didn’t go into journalism, but HCOZ definitely helped improve my professionalism. I am more confident in my communication skills, time management, and writing skills.

Do you have any advice for job searching, such as finding positions you want to pursue or making yourself stand out as a candidate?

Kailey – Theresa made a great point here! She told us that any internship, club, or involvement you can find that relates to your desired field is extremely helpful! For example, if you want to work in journalism, experience at HCOZ will look great to an employer because it proves that you chose to write in your free time. Related involvement is a game-changer as it shows dedication, passion, and initiative.

Ashley: Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. Take a chance and apply for jobs you’re interested in and excited about. Even if you don’t feel that you have the right qualifications, try and apply anyway. It is very likely that other unqualified candidates have applied, and you could be the best in the batch. Also, don’t get discouraged if you aren’t hearing back or if you don’t make it far in interviews. Job searching is a lengthy process, and it’s cliche, but you’ll get the job you’re meant to do at the right time. 

Kailey – Mackenzie offered some great advice about grad school that I found interesting! She said that if you absolutely know you need to or want to go to graduate school, you should do so immediately after undergrad. Mackenzie and several of the others bonded over the way taking a gap can make it extremely difficult to feel motivated to return when the time comes. Of course, we recognized that everyone’s path is unique, but I found this statement important to consider.

Melissa: Stay positive. Job searching can be really difficult and take a huge toll on your mental and emotional health, so don’t take rejections personally. Remember that a) we’re still in a pandemic and employment isn’t fantastic right now and b) it takes time to find a job that suits your skillset. Like Ashley said, you’ll eventually get the job that’s right for you. Also, my first job in my field that I took after college was a contracted position, which means I was only employed for three months. But experience is experience, and it helped me both save money and land my current position. 

Was there anything in addition to HCOZ that you found helped you post-graduation, whether with securing a job or at your current job?

Ashley: I was incredibly involved overall in undergrad, especially my last two years. I was the President of Women in Business, worked as a Desk Attendant through Res Life, and I did a Disney Internship after I graduated. Do things to help build your resume, it’s impressive to employers, and gives you a wide range of things to talk about during interviews. 

Kailey – Something Katie mentioned that I found fascinating is that your GPA does actually matter! She said she got a raise at her current job because they looked at her experiences in college and could tell she was dedicated to her work. As a group, we agreed that there are so many different things employers can find value in, so don’t limit your involvement and don’t take too much off your resume! Only the employer can decide what does and doesn’t matter.

Melissa: Yes!! I was an editorial intern for two years at the SUNY Oswego Alumni Office and that was super helpful because I was interning on campus, so I didn’t have to worry about commuting or anything like that. Regardless of what field you’re in, look for employment and internship opportunities on campus—you never know what you’ll find, and it’s a great way to get experience in your major. 

Theresa: I did internships with the Office of Sustainability and Vote Oswego while I was in HCOZ so I was always busy. Interviewers can see that you know how to manage your time while maintaining a good GPA. You don’t want to be a student who only has a high GPA, you need to show how well rounded you are

Do you do anything in your current job that is similar to your experiences in HCOZ? Such as writing articles, planning events, etc. 

Ashley: Again, I run an Instagram account for my current job, which is what I did during my final semester with HCOZ. I also occasionally help plan events for my job. 

Melissa: I’m a writer, so HCOZ was of course incredibly useful in helping me strengthen my skills as a writer and editor. 

Theresa: This role doesn’t exist anymore but I was Chapter Advisor while being the social media manager. These roles helped me look at social media with a more critical eye and how to maintain brand awareness though posts. Keeping the message of the company is important.

Is there anything you wish you did differently or additionally while you were in HCOZ during college? 

Ashley: I wish I had known about HCOZ sooner. I also wish I had gone to Fashion Week at least once, because it seemed like SUCH a good time and opportunity. 

Melissa: I also wish I had known about the club sooner but otherwise, I couldn’t be happier with my experience. 

Theresa: I was brought to HC by my friend halfway through my sophomore year and I was so annoyed I didn’t know about this club earlier.

What do you miss the most about being in HCOZ?

Theresa – How close we are to each other (in terms of space and our closeness as a group).

Ashley: I miss the amazing friends I made, and just being able to hang out and have girls’ nights whenever we wanted. I also miss writing articles. Writing was such a creative outlet that I missed, and sometimes it was incredibly therapeutic.

Melissa: My friends! When you graduate college, you realize how good you had it by having all of your people so close by. I miss our movie nights, sleepovers and study dates the most. 

Would you be interested in HCOZ having more involvement with alumni in the future? Such as collaborative articles, events, etc. 

Theresa – I’m always down to hang with the HCOZ fam – just let me know.

Ashley: Of course! I love getting to see my “girl gang” and supporting such a wonderful club! Just let me know and I’ll be there!

Melissa: Absolutely! I’ll never turn down an opportunity to chat with my lovely ladies :)

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