Nearly 40 business-casual clad undergraduate and graduate journalism students gathered at Norris University Center earlier this month to participate in a speed networking event.
Medill Career Services organized the event with the purpose of connecting journalism students with alumni working within the journalism and marketing industries in the Chicago area. Students each linked with established professionals from a wide range of news media and organizations, from the Chicago Cubs to WGN to the Chicago Tribune.
Angela Solis, assistant director of Medill Career Services, said the networking event gave students an opportunity to get a head start on meeting potential future employers.
“The program is specifically designed to allow students the quick and entertaining opportunity to introduce themselves and pitch themselves to alumni working in jobs that they wish to pursue in the future,” she said.
For Megan Neunan (BSJ14), this future is not so distant. She said she came to the event because she wanted to learn more about branching out into the marketing and public relations fields from those currently working in them.
After rotating around the two rooms and speaking with multiple alumni, she said she felt she had found the perspective she was seeking.
“I think I’ve really gotten a strong sense of what the shared skills between the two fields would be and how to articulate those,” she said.
Unlike Medill speed networking events of the past, this year undergraduates of any graduating class were invited to register. Medha Imam (BSJ17) said she attended the event to get a taste of what life might be like after graduation.
“I came to the event because I was really interested in learning the different aspects of journalism,” Imam said. “I wanted to see what the real world looked like and what the prospects were.”
Students aren’t the only ones benefiting from events like speed networking. Solis said employers receive a great opportunity to meet other Medill alumni as well as students eager to enter the field.
“It is an extremely cost-effective way of generating business without having to pay for advertising,” Solis said. “All it requires is personal commitment and time.”
But for some alumni, the only incentive needed was the prospect of helping out interested students.
“I spend a lot of time mentoring up-and-coming journalists,” said Maudlyne Ihejirika, assistant city editor and urban affairs reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. “Working with young journalists is my passion.”
During her time with each student, Ihejirika offered her phone number and an invitation to develop a mentor relationship.
Solis recommends that any students interested in attending future Medill Career Services events should read the biweekly Medill newsletter and sign up for any events on MEDILLINK.