Students not “stuck” in career

Kerri Qunell helps a student with a resume question. Photo by Hannah Wisterman.

By Hannah Wisterman

SAN MARCOS—Kerri Qunell, chief marketing officer at Trinity Episcopal School, advised students to take initiative and be flexible in their upcoming careers.

Qunell, a Texas State School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna, spoke at the Communication Careers Q&A. In the 15 years since she’s graduated, Qunell has worked for Dell, TV news, the nonprofit sector and most recently school marketing. As such, she believes that switching workplaces semi-frequently is both increasingly common and beneficial.

“The first job you have does not have to be the job you will be in forever,” Qunell said. “It’s also much more acceptable now for someone to try out a job and move on than it used to be.”

This piece of advice reassured public relations senior Shane Willenborg, 22, who came to the event to learn about what a PR career would realistically look like.

“I was thinking, ‘After college, I have to go into a PR firm and just do that,’” Willenborg said. “But no, it’s totally acceptable to just jump around and find what you want to do.”

It’s experience rather than corporate loyalty that Qunell values, especially for young professionals. Her own experience working for the University Star informed her belief that student organizations are one of the best ways to gain marketable skills.

“Don’t wait,” Qunell said. “Don’t just become a member, but become an officer.”

Qunell’s “don’t wait” attitude applies to careers as well. She said the instant accessibility of LinkedIn can help students make the first move, which gives them an advantage over other potential candidates.

“If a student contacts a professional through LinkedIn, it is seen as a professional networking in,” Qunell said. “The key is to ask, and not wait to be asked.”

The instant access works both ways, however: Qunell and moderator Jennifer Scharlach advised students to be careful of their social media presence.

“We are in a society now where you’re going to be Googled,” Scharlach said.

Qunell said inappropriate social media would be grounds not to hire a candidate, but so would a total non-presence.

“Clean it up or put it on private,” Qunell said. “With that in mind, if you are applying for a job that requires you to use social media, have a presence. Twitter first, LinkedIn second.”

Above all, Qunell said her greatest advice for students was to have courage and keep moving forward.

“You’re not stuck,” Qunell said. “Don’t be afraid.”

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