Syracuse University Magazine

You’re Hired

You’re Hired

Capitalizing on alumni network connections, recent graduates turn internships into employment

By Paula Meseroll

Students looking to get started on their careers can encounter a common problem: They can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job. To address that issue, Jenna Turman, assistant director for alumni programs in the University’s Office of Career Services, strongly encourages students to apply for internship opportunities that reflect their career goals. “Internships are the new entry-level jobs,” Turman says. “Every experience adds extra value and skills to a resume. I tell students to tailor the experiences they are getting to the job they hope to have.” 

Career counselors in Turman’s office, as well as those in the schools and colleges, help students find internships that fit their goals. The office also assists Syracuse alumni who are already in the working world and seeking to advance their careers. “Unlike many of our peer institutions, Syracuse University offers our alumni free lifelong career counseling,” Turman says. 

To tap into the remarkable strength of the Orange alumni network, the office has launched #HireOrange, which identifies job or internship openings from SU alumni looking to hire a student or fellow SU grad. “We want to see #HireOrange grow into a one-stop place to find career opportunities for students and alums,” Turman says. 

In addition to accessing employment listings such as #HireOrange on OrangeLink, she advises students looking for internships to make and maintain connections with friends, fellow students, professors, and alumni who may be helpful in their search. For the young alumni featured here, those methods have paid off. 

Networking is Key

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“Network! Never stop meeting people.”

When looking for internship opportunities, Isabel Firpo ’15, an industrial and interaction design (IID) major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, combed job boards, searched websites of potential companies, and learned about openings from her professors connected to IID alumni. Firpo, a native of Oak Park, Illinois, had several internships during her five-year course. “At two different internships, the company I worked for had an SU alumnus of industrial design on staff, and that design team reached out specifically to our professors to advertise their openings,” she says.

Narrowing her focus to interaction design positions, Firpo researched opportunities in cities where she knew there was an established, or growing, tech scene where that position would be in demand. At an internship at Motorola Solutions in New York City, she was part of a design team working with user-experience designers and researchers to explore and refine concepts for public safety markets. The project focused on the challenges public safety officials face at large events. “A number of the designers on the team graduated from the IID program and that team collaborated with our fifth-year class on the public safety project,” says Firpo, who was a Remembrance Scholar. “After the project ended, they let our class know there were internships available for the following summer and encouraged us to apply.”

The internship allowed Firpo to apply many of the design processes she learned in school and to understand the value those design perspectives brought to the company. The experience also offered her the chance to meet many other employees and learn how the design team interfaced with different groups in the company. “All of these things were valuable once I started working full time,” she says. “I was honored and excited when the company extended an offer to me at the end of my internship.”

Now a senior user-experience designer at Motorola Solutions in Chicago, Firpo is responsible for designing interfaces for applications, tailoring them to the needs and workflows of public safety officers. Her focus is on designing how a product works, how it’s used, and ensuring that mission-critical intelligence can be shared effectively and efficiently by the officers. Knowing how advantageous her internship was in landing her job, Firpo is eager to give back and help others. Her advice to students looking to get working-world experience? “Network!” she says. “Never stop meeting people.”

Taking on Challenges, Gaining Experience

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“There’s no better way to learn than putting your skills to the test...”

Jack Moriarty ’16, a graduate of the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, has been passionate about sports since childhood and always knew he wanted to work in the sports industry. That career goal became reality thanks to the opportunity to do his 12-credit capstone course as an intern with Steiner Sports in New York City. “I learned about internship openings through the sport management program, websites like TeamWork Online and SPM Careers, and the college’s career services office,” he says. “Two internship coordinators work directly with students, helping secure internship opportunities. It can be a stressful process, but Falk College provided the services and resources that made things run smoothly.”

Steiner Sports was founded by CEO Brandon Steiner ’81, an inaugural member of the Falk College Sport Management Advisory Board and a recipient of the 2015 Arents Award, SU’s highest alumni honor. “Brandon Steiner is incredibly involved with the University and continues to give back to his alma mater,” Moriarty says. “Through that connection, I was able to complete my senior capstone with Steiner Sports as an intern in the corporate marketing department. The full-time-level work challenged me and helped me gain real-world experience.” 

Now a corporate marketing associate with the company, Moriarty works on various accounts, organizing athlete procurement, special events, and corporate gifting capabilities, tailoring them to the needs of business clients. “I work with major corporate clients and some of the biggest names in sports, maximizing our industry-leading sports memorabilia products,” says the native of Bethel, Connecticut. 

Grateful for the opportunities offered to him through internships, and inspired by Steiner’s support of the University, Moriarty is willing to assist other students as they pursue their career goals. “I have helped other Syracuse peers with internship opportunities and will continue to give back to the University and the program that gave me so much,” he says. “Since I finished my internship with Steiner Sports, five more SU students have come here for capstone and internship opportunities. It was great to help them navigate through the company and share my experiences with them.”

His advice to students seeking internships is to find a work culture that fits the individual’s personality, aligns with career goals, and allows for growth. “There’s no better way to learn than putting your skills to the test and working directly in the field, gaining experience,” he says. “I developed strong organization, task management, and interpersonal skills as an intern in the Steiner Sports office. I truly love coming to work every day.”

Identify Opportunities

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience... I wouldn’t have found it without the career services team.”

For Carly Getz ’13, the Newhouse School’s Tina Press and David Rubin Career Development Center was her go-to resource for internship information. “They helped me find a quality, year-round internship,” says the Syracuse native who majored in public relations and marketing management at the Newhouse and Whitman schools. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience—I had an amazing leader, meaningful work, and great pay. I wouldn’t have found it without the career services team.” 

At a LinkedIn workshop taught by Kim Brown ’06, G’16, director of strategic communications and digital engagement in the Office of Alumni Engagement, Getz learned how to build relationships with alumni in a targeted geographic area. That knowledge helped her land an internship with Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan in Detroit—after she developed a list of Detroit area alumni working in public relations or marketing. One of the contacts, Andrew Hetzel ’90, vice president of corporate communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan, worked in health care public relations, Getz’s field of greatest interest. He helped her secure an internship in public relations, social media, and integrated communications with the insurance company. At the end of the internship, she was hired by the company for an entry-level position, and grew within the company as she gained experience. “I planned to move back to New York, but I loved my job—and Detroit—so much I stayed in Michigan,” she says. 

A few years later, alumna Stephanie Beres G’16 hired Getz as a media relations specialist at DTE Energy. “She was my first leader at Blue Cross, and a close mentor,” she says. Willing to assist others in gaining experience in the working world, Getz has helped SU students secure internships at Blue Cross, and is open to doing the same at DTE Energy. Active in her local alumni club, she was part of a group planning a weekend retreat for emerging leaders—mostly SU grads—in March. Her advice to students looking for internships includes learning to write well, think critically, ask for feedback, and carefully choose potential opportunities. “Think about what you want your first job to be and work back to identify internship opportunities that make sense,” she says. “Do your research and meet with people in the industry. Sometimes you’ll get great insight from conversations with entry-level employees at companies you’re considering. Classrooms prepare you for internships; internships prepare you for jobs.”

Keeping Career Goals Clear

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“It was a quick referral from an SU alumna—someone I had never met—that got me the internship...”

In searching for an internship, Anthony Caporizzo ’15 worked closely with staff of the career services office in the College of Engineering and Computer Science (E&CS). “Since the beginning of junior year, I made it known what type of path I wanted to take and the different skill levels I hoped to gain from an internship,” says Caporizzo, who majored in bioengineering. “I knew I wanted to stay with the bioengineering field. I had worked for a summer for an energy company, and that reassured me that I wanted to stick with bioengineering.”

Jennifer Meinen ’03, an E&CS alumna and employee of St. Jude Medical Inc., a global medical device firm in Austin, Texas, contacted Jennifer Fazio in the college’s career services office, seeking candidates for an internship with the company. Thanks to Caporizzo’s relevant education and clear career goals, Meinen recommended him for an internship with St. Jude Medical, which was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in January. “It was a quick referral from an SU alumna—someone I had never met—that got me the internship,” says Caporizzo, a native of Horsham, Pennsylvania. After an intensive interview process, which included shadowing company employees in a hospital surgical setting to gauge his comfort level with the experience, Caporizzo was accepted as an intern. “St. Jude didn’t recruit at Syracuse. They typically accepted candidates from a list of only three or four schools for this program,” he says. “Getting my name in the recruiting pool, thanks to Jennifer Meinen, meant a lot to me. I feel confident in saying I would not be with St. Jude if it weren’t for her and Jennifer Fazio.”

Now in the second year of a paid three-year internship as an electrophysiology technical service associate, Caporizzo works in the company’s atrial fibrillation (AF) and cardiac rhythm management (CRM) divisions. In the CRM division, he performs patient checks in hospitals and cardiac clinics for implantable cardioverter defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization therapy devices, and pacemakers. He also assists in surgical procedures, programming the devices to ensure they are properly calibrated for each patient’s medical needs. His AF division responsibilities include assisting with catheter-based ablation procedures. Caporizzo credits his Syracuse University education with preparing him for the internship and a career in the bioengineering field. “The most important things I learned in the classroom that help with my job were the work ethic and study habits,” he says. “There’s a lot of studying involved with the internship, so the skills I gained in college have helped greatly in the transition.” 

Caporizzo maintains ties to the SU alumni network and is open to trying to make connections for any student interested in the bioengineering field. “Abbott recruits heavily at only a few schools, but will take recommendations from employees,” he says. “I would consider helping students who want to pursue an internship with the company.” 

His advice to students looking to take the internship path to a first job is to do a lot of research before applying. “The more you know about the job, the more comfortable you’ll feel during an interview,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you’re looking for. There are opportunities in every industry and you will find them.” «


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