The $209,200 Question

Ithaca College, IC, Ithaca, Communications, Park School of Communications

Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College (via

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a conference call with current students at Ithaca College, who are interning at the Office of Career Services.  Our chat centered around marketing, social media and the lessons I’ve learned in “the real world” since graduating from Ithaca College and leaving South Hill for Rochester, NY.  I enjoy giving back to my alma matter in this fashion, so when asked if I could spare 15-20 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon I didn’t hesitate to accept.

My favorite question that was asked by a student was, “What is the skill a graduating senior would need most in order to secure employment?”  Since I didn’t know the questions in advance, my mind raced with possible answers. . . .

Communications:  I majored in Communications, so this was an easy answer to give.  Virtually all jobs require good communication skills!  I dismissed that answer as something that should be a given.

Marketing:  These are marketing interns, so a broad-based marketing skill set would be valuable.  After all, marketing applies to all job seekers because they’re ultimately marketing themselves to prospective employers.  So, I dismissed that answer too, since it should also be a given.

Networking:  As a job seeker, it’s not just what you know.  It’s also not just who you know.  It’s who knows about you which is equally important.  What’s the best way to make sure recruiters, employers and hiring managers know about you?  Networking!  I had my answer!

Whether in-person or via social media, networking is truly an important skill set that graduating seniors should possess.  It’s also a skill that won’t be taught in most classrooms.  Some colleges do, however, teach networking to their students (along with personal branding).  I have first-hand experience that Ithaca College currently does this.

I was able to stress to these students that their networking efforts should begin immediately with fellow students, professors and other professionals.  Two other important points about networking, especially for students who are likely to be new to networking:

  1. Make sure you practice a “give to get” philosophy.  Seek out ways to help the person you’re networking with and/or what you can bring to your professional relationship.  Effective networking is a two-way street.
  2. Emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to your network.  It’s better to have a network that’s half the size but twice as effective.

If you were faced with that same question, what would be your advice to a graduating senior?

As to the title of this post?  That refers to the current 4-year total of tuition/room/board at Ithaca College.  🙂


11 thoughts on “The $209,200 Question

  1. Hmm… they must have misplaced my phone number. I didn’t get that call. Good points that you bring up about networking. You should never stop. Oh, and WOW the cost of education has increased!

  2. I agree with you that networking is probably the most important skill set for the graduating senior. One other very important piece is how to conduct yourself on all the social media sites. Not only will prospective employers check you out, it’s a matter of presenting yourself with character and maturity in general.

  3. I think you made a great choice Arthur. The power of networking is totally underestimated. The earlier in life that people learn this skill the sooner they can put it to use.

  4. I can’t believe the cost now. You may not know this, I went there three semesters. I transfered to SUNY Brockport mid-sophmore year because I was really, really disappointed with the quality of my education at Ithaca and how much it cost. It was like 8th grade. But I am glad you got more out of it than I did. My first week at SUNY Brockport was harder than three semesters at IC. I got to self grade myself in 6 classes at IC. SELF GRADING??? Who does that. And my average was a 4.04. Who does that?

  5. I am an Ithaca Alum (’00) and have a sister at Syracuse. The vibe I get from her is that there is a lot of pressure around getting “good jobs” after college. I don’t hear from her saying, “I want a job where I can learn and grow as a business person”. The first 2 years out of school, I had a really nice manager, who let me pretty much do what I wanted. In retrospect, I would have been much better off with a boss who was not as nice, but pushed me to have vision, plan, succeed, and use failure as opportunity to learn. I had to learn these lessons the hard way, and it would have saved me a lot of time (and frustration) if I had more positive mentors early in my career.

    Obviously this is difficult to find, but these interview skills are not being taught which I think is a huge gap with Universities in general. The ability to these identify companies, managers, and colleagues who show actual leadership qualities should be focused on, because in the end, these are the skills and direction that are going to help you succeed in your career, not just in paying back your student loans.

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