Bridging the Gap: From the Classroom to Corporate America with Bette Rockmore

Bette Rockmore, Distinguished Professor of Publishing for the 2017-2018 academic year.

On November 29, on the 18th floor of 163 Williams Street, Bette Rockmore, the David Pecker Distinguished Professor of Publishing for the 2017-2018 academic year, presented on the fundamental difference between university and corporate America – and the shifts required to “bridge the gap” between the two.

Before stepping down as Senior Vice President of Advertising and Sponsor Sales for SiriusXM – a position she held for eight years – Rockmore was the Senior Vice President of Business Development for American Media, the Director of Direct Response Marketing for Meredith Corporation, and the Vice President of Special Publishing for Hachette Filipacchi Media.

Now a consultant for SiriusXM, Rockmore has 35 years-worth of insights to share with students.

The presentation

In front of 50 M.S. in Publishing students, faculty, and distinguished guests like Bette Kirschstein, the Associate Dean of Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Professor Sherman Raskin, Director of the M.S. in Publishing Program, invited Rockmore to the podium.

Professor Sherman Raskin introduced Rockmore to the group.

Next to a bright-red bouquet of poinsettias, Rockmore conveyed her thanks to those in attendance. She also introduced two associates from SiriusXM, who supplemented her lecture: DeBorah Charles, Senior Marketing Director, and Marc Richards, VP/Ad Sales Central Region.

“I’d like to thank Sherman and the university and, most of all, the students. Being named the David Pecker fellow is an honor for me,” said Rockmore. “Getting a full-time job is a full-time job, and requires the same skills as doing a job. Among the three of us today, we have interviewed thousands and thousands of candidates and made hundreds and hundreds of hires. We’re going to impart that knowledge and expertise tonight. It’s a very competitive world – I don’t need to tell you that. You competed to get to Pace University. But it’s more competitive as you get into the job field.”

Bridging the Gap

When transitioning from student to employee, students should keep in mind the following changes:

1) While you pay to be in school, you're paid to do a job. This, according to Rockmore, requires a shift towards a "mindset of responsibility." When receiving a paycheck, you must deliver on the expectations of your colleagues.

2) When you're in school, you use grades, test scores, and applications to distinguish yourself from other candidates. In business, your work is only the first step. Communication skills will become increasingly important.

3) You must be able to demonstrate the unique abilities you have and how they contribute to the position.
Pace University Press Graduate Assistant Bryan Potts asks Rockmore a question.

“You need to understand that the demands of the job come first and should be your primary focus. This can lead to enhanced promotion and raises,” said Rockmore.

“Your personality and communication skills are critical to getting a job and being promoted. To bridge the gap successfully, you have to maintain and project a positive attitude. These traits are sometimes more important than other business skills.”

Making a Good impression

DeBorah Charles majored in Integrated Marketing at New York University. She moved to SiriusXM after interning with Primedia and working for Condé Nast, Bauer Publishing, Reader’s Digest, and Time Inc. At SiriusXM, she is responsible for “supporting all aspects of the sales and marketing process including creating, developing, and executing large scale proposals…in addition to managing and mentoring a team of three.”

“When you’re applying for a job, you are one of many applicants, but there are little things that you can do to make you stand out and hopefully get an interview,” said Charles. “As you start your job search, your mentality has to be that you’re in school and that school has prepared you, but your approach is that you’re ready to move to the next level.”

DeBorah Charles, SiriusXM’s Senior Marketing Director.

The goal – always – is to make a favorable impression on a prospective employer. One way to do this, says Charles, is to have a growth mindset. The “growth mindset” concept was developed by Carol Dweck, a psychologist and professor at Stanford University. It’s the idea that brains and talent are only a starting point – hard work and dedication are what will move you forward in life.

“When you’re trying to get a job, it’s very important that people know that you’re interested. If you reach out to someone and ask them about a position, make sure you’re available to respond to them,” said Charles. “Be checking your email so that, if they reach out to you with a question or ask for a resume, you’re available. That will help you stand out from other people.”

To make a favorable impression, you must:

1) Have a Growth Mindset

2) Be timely & punctual

3) Build Connections

4) Brand yourself

5) Develop a personal "elevator pitch"

6) Volunteer

7) Create a portfolio that makes your work easy to access

Also remember to do your research. Read trade magazines and subscribe to newsletters like Search Engine Journal, MediaPost, and AdAge. These are the publications Charles reads to stay up-to-date with the industry. The more knowledgeable you are, the more marketable you are as a potential employee.

“When you build your brand, you build your net worth,” said Charles. “Staying connected allows you to make more money, and that’s what you’re in school for.”

On Interviewing

Marc Richards studied political science at Columbia University before interning for a political consultant, where he learned “how to plan and buy media for various political candidate campaigns.” Before working for SiriusXM, he held positions at Grey Advertising, Media Edge Advertising, American Media, and Bauer Media. Today, he is responsible for “securing radio advertising dollars” from companies in the Midwest.

His portion of the presentation focused on interview tips and questions. “When I got out of college and first started interviewing, I was completely clueless. So now it’s fun for me to help people not be as clueless as I was my first couple go-arounds,” said Richards.

Marc Richards, SiriusXM’s VP/Ad Sales Central Region.

In terms of interviews, Richards advised candidates to:

1) Dress for Success – look like you respect the position

2) Arrive 15 minutes early

3) Research the company

4) Connect your qualifications to the company's needs

5) Be concise 

6) Listen and demonstrate retention

7) Be positive and confident, not cocky

8) Be specific – make sure you have examples of work you've done on-hand

9) Write a follow-up email and thank your interviewer one hour after the interview, making sure to mention something from the interview that reaffirms why you want the job and helps you establish rapport

10) Know everything that's on your resume – do not lie about your qualifications

11) Have a question prepared for the end of the interview

In terms of interview questions, there generally aren’t more than 10, and you’re going to get them over and over, said Richards. Examples of these will sound familiar: How do you describe yourself? What are your career goals? Can you describe a difficult project you have successfully completed?

More difficult questions include: How do you like to be managed? This is a trick question, because you have a 50/50 chance of matching your interviewer’s style as either hands-on or hands-off. The best answer is “I like to be managed by someone I can learn from.” What’s your greatest strength and weakness? is also tricky. Make sure you have an actual weakness here. Being a perfectionist is not an acceptable answer. But your weakness shouldn’t disqualify you from the job.

“Show that you’re a colleague, that you’re someone [the interviewer] could see every minute of every day and enjoy and maybe get a beer with after work,” said Richards. “If you can establish that rapport, they’re going to remember you.”

Bette Rockmore and DeBorah Charles.

 

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