By: Logan McCullough
SAN MARCOS – Texas State alumna Virginia Alves returned to her alma mater to lead a panel discussing her most recent endeavor as social media editor for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Alves’s Mass Comm week presentation, “International Waters: Social Media at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games,” moderated by Texas State professor of social journalism Dale Blasingame, was divided into three sections: Alves’ life before the Olympics, during the Games, and her post-Olympic life.
Alves has a unique connection to the Rio Olympics; she was born in Brazil. Although she left the country and moved to the United States when she was two, she knew that one day she wanted to move back to Brazil.
“I had been dreaming of going back to Brazil since I was 15,” Alves said.
With a dream in mind and a fully supportive family behind her, Alves made the “leap of faith” and moved to Brazil before knowing for sure that she had a job waiting for her.
The leap of faith was a success, as Alves was able to secure a job position through connections her father Rosental Alves, a famous Brazilian journalist and now professor of journalism at the University of Texas, had with the Brazilian media.
Connections were a focal point of this presentation. Alves had an interesting outlook on how her perception of the role of connections changed throughout the process of finding a job.
“I used to think I didn’t want to get a job through connections,” said Alves. “I wanted to get a job based on how hard I work, or how qualified I am for the job, not connections.”
She was quick to add how her thought process had changed, telling the audience that she quickly realized that it is OK to get a job through connections, as long as you don’t rely solely on your connections.
“When the real work starts the connections that got you there can’t help you anymore and hard work must take over,” said Alves.
A member of the audience Jonathan Check, a senior mass communication major student at Texas State, agreed with Alves’ sentiment on hard work.
“Connections are just the icing on the cake,” Check said. “Hard work is the cake. If you have a cake with no icing, that’s one thing, but if you have icing without a cake, then you would just be lost. Connections are important, but they don’t mean anything if you don’t work hard.”
Freshman mass communication major Nate Rocha was in the audience and also said that connections are important, but believed hard work trumped all.
“If you don’t have hard work, you can have all the connections in the world, but if you don’t work hard they’ll find you out in the future for sure,” Rocha said.
Another major takeaway from this presentation was Alves’s encouragement to students to follow what they love. She began to build her brand online just tweeting relatable things about Justin Bieber and the band One Direction, simply because that’s what she was interested in.
Alves said that following this mindset of doing what you love is what landed her in Brazil. However it wasn’t a love for sports, it was her love for her home country and her passion for social media. The Olympics were an amazing opportunity because they encapsulated both of what she loved.
“I never thought I’d have a career in sports,” said Alves. “I’m not a sports person, but I learned a lot about sports really, really fast.”
When asked what her final best advice to students looking for a job, Alves urged the crowd to follow their dreams.
“Don’t be scared,” said Alves. “If I would have hesitated and not gone to Brazil for another two months I don’t know if I would have got the job. Don’t be scared. Go for it.”