Syracuse University Magazine

The Syracuse Network

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By Allyssa Kaiser

In fall 2009, as a first-year advertising major in the Newhouse School, I fondly remember syllabus week—walking the same halls the tour guides had led me through on Newly Accepted Students Day, as they spoke highly of prestigious SU alumni, including Bob Costas ’74 and Aaron Sorkin ’83. From the time I stepped foot on campus, I was impressed by the University’s alumni roster. And during the course of my four years as an undergraduate, I experienced the Syracuse network for myself.

My first true experience with the network was during a first-year seminar conference call with sportscaster Mike Tirico ’88 (pictured), who chatted about his time at the University and his career with ESPN. I remember thinking then how cool it was to speak to someone so successful in the communications industry.

As a sophomore, I enjoyed watching the classic ’Cuse film, The Express, the story of Syracuse football legend Ernie Davis ’62. It was my first interaction with the number 44 and its storied history that began with all-time great Jim Brown ’57. Brown greeted me with a wave that fall, when he came to the University to cheer on his former football team. Syracuse alumni again touched my life in spring 2012, when I attended a Newhouse School presentation by Bryan Wiener ’92, CEO of the digital marketing agency 360i. His passion for the advertising industry and the world of digital marketing inevitably influenced my interest in social media marketing.

He wasn’t the only advertising alum to have an impact on me. As a senior in fall 2012, I accepted an internship at the downtown Syracuse advertising firm of Eric Mower ’66, G’68, a University Life Trustee. After attending several presentations through the Eric Mower Advertising Forum, I had the opportunity to connect with him about the industry. Wise and kind, he encouraged my wide-eyed outlook on, and passion for, client services.

That fall, I also met Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley ’98 and his brother, Jonathan Crowley ’02, who solidified my desire to work in social media. I had worked as a Foursquare Campus Ambassador at SU, which provided us fodder to discuss social networking and the future of the social media landscape. Syracuse alum Andy Hetzel ’90, vice president of corporate communications of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, also became an advocate of mine. We originally connected on Twitter via our mutual love for the University. And in spring 2013, during the last semester of my senior year, I met him at a Public Relations Student Society of America event through Newhouse. A supporter of my Twitter chat, he also congratulated me on my first post-grad job. For our Newhouse Convocation, Mike Tirico was the speaker and I was fortunate to shake hands with him, a full-circle experience (pictured above).

Shortly after accepting a job at McGarryBowen, an advertising agency in New York City, in summer 2013, I was blessed with a community of fellow Orange alumni who welcomed me with open arms, including Craig Wood ’05 and Jordan Long ’08. The alumni connections continued during a visit to campus as an alumna in fall 2013, when I had the good fortune of meeting actor Taye Diggs ’93, an Arents Award recipient. And when I later moved to my second agency, MRY, another welcoming Syracuse community greeted me.

The Syracuse network is real. In just a few years, I’ve had the opportunity to befriend some of the most influential alumni in the advertising industry, relationships sparked by our mutual alma mater. Now, as a vice president of marketing for Big Apple Orange, the Syracuse University Alumni Club of New York City, and one of more than 57,000 alumni in NYC, it’s safe to say my encounters with the Syracuse network are far from over. Betsey Johnson ’64, Jim Olson ’91...let’s grab coffee.

@AllyssaKaiser is an account executive at MRY and Class of ’13 alumna.