Having to go online didn’t stop George Mason University’s Department of Communication from hosting its annual fall career forum. But instead of the usual one-day in-person event, it is hosting six hour-long virtual mentoring sessions with two career professionals in a different field each week.
“We really wanted to create an event that allows students to make a real direct connection while they’re stuck at home or wherever they are,” said Kate Sweeney, the journalism program coordinator in the Department of Communication. “So that's why we decided to convert this to a series of fairly small mentoring sessions.”
“The more you network, the more you learn in ways that you can’t learn from a textbook or writing a paper or doing a project or being in a classroom,” said Anne Nicotera, professor and department chair.
The Find Your Future 2020 sessions take place over Zoom each Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. through Nov. 6, with weekly fields covering each available communication concentration, as well as sports and fashion communication. Each session allows up to 16 student registrants to attend.
Nicotera said the goal “is to provide students with career information and direct mentoring from industry professionals.”
“It’s really a networking opportunity,” she continued, “and an opportunity for students to talk with people directly and get advice from people directly who are doing the kinds of things that students aspire to in their careers.”
“I really like the mentoring sessions, just because they offer us real-world career advice, their experience and how they got to where they are,” said Marina Li, a senior communication major concentrating in public relations.
Li said that the mentors, many of them Mason alumni, offered relevant experiences and insights to student attendees, many of whom will soon be graduating and going into communication fields themselves.
Savannah Martincic, a junior communication major concentrating in journalism, noted guest Diana Gulotta, director of communication services for Prince William County Schools, as one who inspired her.
“She talked a lot about how her favorite part of her job was working with the kids and getting to see their successes and achievements,” Martincic said. “And I think that's something that I really wanted to have in my career, that I can directly help people or have some kind of impact on people. And so I felt like seeing that that was possible in a communication field, and seeing that in action, was really helpful.”
Andrea Ortega, a senior communication major concentrating in public relations, said that she is still in contact with some of the mentors of past forums she has attended.
“Even if you have like a network of zero, this helps you prepare for that real-world networking,” Ortega said. “What's nice about Mason is that they bring people to you. So they already did half the work.”