Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alumnae Spotlight: Melissa FitzGibbon, GSB '13

Name: Melissa FitzGibbon
Hometown: Scotch Plains, NJ
Graduation year and major: Business Admin., Concentration in Marketing, Minor in Visual Arts GSB ’13

Did you have any internships during your time at Fordham?

I did a total of four internships while at Fordham. When I was in middle school I became convinced that I wanted to work in the music industry, so during my sophomore year at Fordham I made a list of all of the record labels based in New York City and applied to internships. Second semester sophomore year I interned for an artist management firm where I did a little bit of everything, from digital and direct marketing to graphic design. Second semester junior year I interned for the digital marketing department of Atlantic Records. I managed artists’ blogs, websites, and social media properties. I also interned for the radio station 95.5 WPLJ and within a different department at Atlantic Records. My favorite thing I did while interning was creating a marketing plan for the band Matchbox Twenty. In addition to the marketing plan, I had the opportunity to pitch an application idea to Spotify and Matchbox Twenty management. Both parties loved the idea and my idea became an application that lived within the music streaming service. I also rode the elevator with Diddy once and met Jay-Z… so that’s pretty cool too. My internships were amazing and gave me excellent hands-on experience. While I loved my internships, I ultimately learned not only what activities I did well but also that I don’t want to work in the music industry.

What were you involved in during your time at Fordham?

I played six seasons of intramural softball. I was on the CAB general board and the executive board as the chairperson of the comedy committee. I was also a resident assistant, which definitely had the most profound impact on my college career. Each extra curricular was amazing and such an awesome adventure. I was constantly on the go and loved every second of it. Plus, because I was so involved, I got to meet a lot of different people that I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise. I still consider a lot of those people my closest friends.

Can you talk a little about the interview process for your full time job offer? 

The interview process for my current position was definitely atypical. I initially applied for a marketing specific job at the Kaplan headquarters in New York. I got an email a few days later expressing that while they did not feel I was a good fit for the position that I originally applied, the company did have an opening in New Jersey for which I “seemed to be a good match”. I expressed further interest and had an initial phone interview the following Monday. I had a second phone interview with a hiring manager on Tuesday. We had a great conversation that led to an in-person interview on Wednesday. At this point in time, if you’re keeping track at home, I had three interviews in three days. The phone interviews were very basic. I was asked to describe myself, what I thought about Kaplan and give a glimpse of where I saw myself in five years. While the in-person interview had very similar questions, it was more to get a feel for my personality and how I react in various situations. I clicked really well with the hiring manager and at some point forgot that I was on an interview. We laughed a lot and had an interesting and engaging conversation about business development in general as well as the Kaplan brand. After the third interview, I waited nearly a week and a half for my final interview with the regional sales director. One of the most peculiar aspects of my position is that I am part of a remote workforce, which means my team doesn’t have an office. Each member of my team works from home. Thus, my final interview was via Google Hangout. It was a great conversation. We spoke about '80s music, the NY Football Giants, and of course my previous work experience. After that final interview I knew that working with Kaplan is where I wanted to be. Two weeks later I got my official offer letter via email and the rest is history.

What do you do on a daily basis at work? 

As one could have imagined from the brief overview of my interview process, every day is different. Today I started my morning off with responding to emails, following up with students and clubs. I then ventured to Rutgers Newark for a presentation about the “Path to Graduate School” that I organized with one of the deans. Tomorrow, I’ll be putting my art minor to use editing pictures and creating signs for an upcoming conference. I’ll also be calling students to follow up about potential course options and continuously refreshing the sales numbers for the month of October. There’s never a dull moment at Kaplan! Sometimes I’m working directly with students on campus, other times I’m on national conference calls about the forthcoming MCAT test change, and sometimes I’m talking about academics with specific teachers. The fact that my day-to-day changes so much is what I like about my job, though! I’m never bored and always on my toes.

What do you miss most about Fordham? 

I think the shorter answer might be “What don’t you miss about Fordham?” I miss running into people on campus. I miss the spontaneity that happens when you live in a res hall and/or five blocks away from all your friends. I miss my Residential Life staff. I miss my intramural softball team and the people I came to know and love during my four years at Fordham. If I had to choose one thing, what I miss most is the sense of belonging and the Fordham community. I feel at home when I’m at Fordham, and that’s what I miss most.

How did Fordham help prepare you for the "real world"?

I think my business major definitely helped me prepare for the real world. For one thing, after feeling that “business casual dress” was the most ambiguous dress code for 19 years of my life, I finally figured out what that means! But in all seriousness, I learned how to carry myself in the professional world, the importance of networking, and how to think analytically. Since I was so involved, I am quite prepared to multi-task and manage my time wisely. The core prepped me with an education that made me a well-rounded individual. My education in the classroom wasn’t limited to one specific subject, but rather a foray into many different subjects. I feel like I can handle anything that gets thrown at me professionally because I have such a sturdy educational foundation.

What is your advice for students beginning their college experience?

If you’re not a morning person do not register yourself for 8:30s; you will regret it (I learned that the hard way). Take professors with whom you connect, it makes the work you do for that class seem less like work. Don’t take the sunny days on Eddie’s for granted. Network as much as possible; you never know where you’ll end up. Intern to test what it is you might want to do after graduation! Most importantly, enjoy your time at Fordham! It’ll be over before you know it.

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