If the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is true, then the efforts of the School of Business at the College of Staten Island are an essential and integral part of the opportunities that the School provides to its students.
“We know how important networking and alumni interaction are to our students,” said Dean Susan Holak in a recent interview. “If we can bring students together with alumni, many good things will follow.”
Just five years old, the School of Business is at an important point in its development, said Holak, who is the School’s Founding Dean. Growing and strengthening an alumni network is helping to achieve a variety of objectives – from helping current students launch careers to engaging key stakeholders.
Mustafa Shehadeh, a 2017 graduate with a BS in Marketing, is a strong advocate for the School’s efforts and a natural collaborator. Shehadeh is currently working in Manhattan for Merkle, a marketing agency.
Networking “is definitely in the top three or top five important things a student should be doing,” Shehadeh said. “It’s your classes, internships, and then networking.”
“Something that helped me a lot in landing my job was being in touch with students in previous graduating classes,” Shehadeh added. “I want (current students) to know how important it is to keep those connections and network.”
Rich Pallarino, a 2016 graduate in Accounting and now a staff auditor with the New York City Comptroller’s office, is also an enthusiastic supporter of the School’s efforts, and a key participant in the School’s efforts to build its alumni base.
“Some [CSI] students do think, ‘I just want to do my four years and get out,’ and that’s a mistake,” Pallarino said. “They don’t take advantage of the resources at the College.”
Giving students an opportunity to meet is one way to facilitate the engagement and networking processes. At a bowling alley on Hylan Boulevard recently, about 25 alumni and current students met up to bowl – and network. Predictably, the bowling was little more than an alibi.
“When we were done with the game, we all stood talking for an extra 30 to 40 minutes about their (current students) plans and our (alumni) plans,” Shehadeh said. “I shared some of my experiences and I let them know what they are in for after graduation, and some steps they can take now.”
Bowling is perhaps an ideal networking opportunity: only one person can roll a ball at a time so talking to your fellow bowling team members comes easily between frames.
“It was very casual,” said Pallarino of the bowling event. “We had someone from Wells Fargo there along with other alumni. We let them pick our brains, with one alumnus among each group that was bowling.”
Pallarino is taking the effort to another level: he has used his background in sports marketing to organize an experiential learning opportunity in the form of a trip to a NY Islanders hockey game on November 5 for students taking a course in Sports Management this semester. The event features 32 prime seats and everyone attending will receive a jersey. For him, he said, it’s personal.
“When I interned at Sony Music, there was something called intern row,” Pallarino explained. “When the company would send out an email blast to all the interns – including students from Harvard, Brown, Princeton, and Rutgers – I was the only CUNY student.
“I want to go out there and in ten years and I want to hear, ‘CSI, I’ve heard of it, we hired someone from there.’”