Part II | Bridging the Gap: From the Classroom to Corporate America

On April 26, Bette Rockmore, Visiting Distinguished Professor of Publishing for the 2017-2018 academic year, delivered the second-half of her lecture “Bridging the Gap: From the Classroom to Corporate America.”

In Part I, Rockmore, a consultant for SiriusXM, DeBorah Charles, Senior Marketing Director at SiriusXM, and Marc Richards, VP/Ad Sales Central Region at SiriusXM, presented on the fundamental differences between university and corporate America – and the shifts required to “bridge the gap” between the two.

Professor Raskin
Professor Raskin introduced Rockmore and her colleagues at the start of the presentation. (Photo: Rachael Kelly)

Last Thursday, Rockmore, Lauren Sutcliffe, VP, Marketing, Advertising Sales at SiriusXM, and Matt Ammentorp, Manager, Finance at SiriusXM, talked about how to shine in an entry-level position and outlined the skills necessary to ace an interview. As someone who has interviewed thousands of candidates throughout her career, Rockmore knows what it takes to stand out.

Principles of Success

According to Rockmore, 2018 is a great year to be looking for a job. She reiterated from her previous talk that looking for a job is a full-time job, and encouraged students to create evaluative benchmarks for success at every stage of their career.

“If you want to be successful, you really need to enjoy what you do,” said Rockmore, “You may not love your entry-level position, but you need to have passion for what you do. You need to show this in your speech, your smile, your body language, the way you walk, and the way you work with other people.”

Bette Rockmore, Visiting Distinguished Professor of Publishing for the 2017-2018 academic year. (Photo: Rachael Kelly)

After defining what “success” looks like as an assistant versus an associate, for example, students should try to develop and project the following skills/values.

  • Ambition
  • Hard Work
  • Tenacity/Perseverance
  • Honesty/Integrity
  • Passion/Enthusiasm
  • Accountability
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Adept to Change 

“People need to count on you. You need to build trust and be dependable. Individuals who show integrity in the workplace not only understand right and wrong, but practice it in everything they do. Let me assure you – having a moral compass in corporate America is a very valuable working tool.” – Bette Rockmore

Internships & Interviews

Lauren Sutcliffe has worked in sales, marketing, merchandising, and promotions over the course of her career. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Sutcliffe honed her skills at magazines like Men’s Health, Bon Appétit, and New York magazine. In 2010, she transitioned to SiriusXM Radio as VP, Marketing, Advertising Sales. She currently oversees ad sales with a “focus on client solutions to help generate incremental revenue.”

Lauren Sutcliffe with Bette Rockmore
Lauren Sutcliffe with Bette Rockmore. (Photo: Rachael Kelly)

As a student, Sutcliffe completed two internships in the city that were instrumental in helping her land a full-time job after graduation. Now, a major part of her job at SiriusXM is interviewing candidates for entry-level positions.

“I had this young fellow come in once – he was about 18, in college, and he came in to interview for an internship. I said, ‘What do you like about our magazines?’ He replied, ‘Oh, I love Fit Pregnancy. I read it all the time, every week. It’s my favorite magazine.’ I didn’t want to judge, but I thought it was an odd choice considering we also published Men’s Fitness. He wanted to show he was gung-ho, but it just didn’t come-off as very genuine.” – Lauren Sutcliffe

In addition to being genuine in an interview, she encouraged students to:

  • Be prepared
  • Demonstrate ambition
  • Do their research
  • Appreciate the interviewer’s time
  • Look for a connection with the interviewer
  • Bring a list of well-crafted questions for the interviewer 
  • Follow-up with with a succinct email after the interview 
  • Draw parallels throughout the interview to previous experience (and transferrable skills)
  • Understand the value of the entry-level position
  • Work on maintaining a connection with an interviewer after the interview is over – whether you get the job or not

Before you interview somewhere, visit your interviewer’s LinkedIn page and read their bio. Have they been recognized for any awards? Are they affiliated with any groups or organizations? What college did they attend? Can you connect to their interests in any way?

“What tends to be a creepy connection is if you say, ‘Oh, I Facebook-stalked you and saw you were at Disney last week. You were at Space Mountain and looked really scared!’ That’s not the connection you want to make,” said Sutcliffe.

The moral of her story? Look for a professional connection that an interviewer would feel comfortable discussing with a complete stranger.

Recommendations from a Young Professional

Matt Ammentorp worked at Allstate as a Senior Financial Analyst after he graduated with a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia. In June 2015, he moved to New York to work as a Senior Financial Analyst for SiriusXM. When he started, he managed the operating budgets of the company’s sports, music, news, and entertainment channels. Today, he oversees the budgets for ad sales and works with SiriusXM’s “programming” and “subscriber planning & analytics” teams.

Speaker Matt Ammentorp.
Speaker Matt Ammentorp. (Photo: Rachael Kelly)

Ammentorp told students to take every single assignment seriously, even if it’s just getting coffee.

“Get the right coffee. Get the right cream and sugar. Do it well, and make that solid first impression. [Your employers] will remember it. Everybody’s human, and everybody remembers the first time they met somebody. If it was a positive experience, that goes a long way. If it was a negative experience, you can recover, but it takes a lot of effort.” – Matt Ammentorp

He recommended that students:

  • Do what they say they’re going to do – preferably ahead of schedule
  • Seek associations with executives
  • Accept some pain, not injury (like staying late)
  • Make connections with multiple mentors
  • Manage their own career – and make changes when it’s necessary to do so
  • Never burn a bridge
  • Take first assignments seriously
  • Be grateful, even if rewards are expected
  • Develop empathy in the corporate context (for co-workers)
  • Be open to imperfect change 
  • Own their own career from day one

Final Takeaways

Be diligent, reliable, and over-deliver as much as you can. Set achievable goals and convey enthusiasm, competence, and character in everything you do. There’s often a direct correlation between confidence and performance. Work hard and be grateful – you’ll be rewarded down the line for your efforts.