In the one year since graduation, life has been busy for SC&I alumna Isabel Lim ’18. Graduating last May with a degree in Communication and specialization in Strategic Public Communication and Public Relations, Lim put the job search on hold and decided to see the world before planting professional roots. After exploring Southeast Asia returning to the States at the end of the summer, Lim embarked on the arduous path of finding her dream job, which ultimately led to her current position as Digital Investment Associate at Canvas Worldwide in New York City. We recently spoke to Lim about her travels as well as her career journey and asked for some advice for this year’s graduates who are about to start the job hunt.
Can you tell us what you’ve been doing since graduating from SC&I one year ago?
I’ve been doing quite a lot over the year! As graduation approached, I became very apprehensive because I had decided to take the summer off to travel around and my friends had already had a full-time job lined up for them. Of course, I would apply to full-time positions here and there and I would practice my interviewing skills at the companies I would hear back from. I traveled all over Southeast Asia and I don’t regret it at all! I got to visit my family in Malaysia once more before I had to commit to a full-time job. I knew that if I started a job, it would be a lot harder to travel. I’m happy I took the advice from other people to travel because we have our whole lives to work. Vacation days are nice, but if you have a whole summer to visit multiple countries, do it! Once I returned from my travels at the end of August, I started heavily applying to jobs and, a few months later, landed a full-time position at Canvas Worldwide as an Associate on the Digital Investment team working across the Heineken profile. I started my job January 2nd... a great way to begin the new year!
How was your job search after graduation?
My job search was a stressful process, but everybody goes through it. You have to be somewhat aggressive when it comes to the Communication and Media industry. It’s also about networking and knowing the right people. After graduation, as I have mentioned I took the summer to travel, but once I returned I threw my resume all over LinkedIn, Rutgers Handshake, Media Bistro, absolutely everywhere — including company websites. Sometimes I did some digging around for a recruiter or employee email to drop my resume on. It never hurts to reach out to those contacts that are accessible, as long as you’re not too aggressive. Following up and being consistent is key, but at a decent frequency (approximately once every two weeks). I asked all around, from family members to the connections I had on LinkedIn, if anybody was hiring. I would hand out my resume along with the ask. During the job hunt, I also visited Career Services at SC&I to ask for advice and see if my adviser had any connections to the companies I’ve applied to. You’d be surprised by how many connections the staff at SC&I has! It’s super helpful. I applied to at least 15-20 companies a week (I also kept track of which companies I’d applied to and followed up with, which was helpful because it kept my process organized!) I’d gotten a lot of rejections, bombed some interviews, and for some companies I never heard back! But it’s all about the process and I thought of these rejections as practice for my next interview. I considered the questions that were asked and then asked myself how I could improve my response if I were asked again. With the help of CareerContessa and TheMuse, I was able to craft better responses. Eventually, I got it right and now I’m at my job that I love!
Can you tell us about your current role as Digital Investment Associate for Canvas Worldwide?
As an Associate on the Digital Investment team, I buy media inventory from publishers and place advertisements. That’s the main part of my job, but I also attend a lot of meetings with partners that could potentially work with us if it fits our client’s needs. Another important role that I have as an Associate is reporting on the media that ran and analyzing results. That means looking at data of the advertisements we are tracking to determine what worked or what didn’t and make optimizations for the next campaign. I have learned so much as an Associate and have been extremely fortunate to be working at Canvas on the digital team because they really care about their employees. No matter what level you’re on, they value your opinion and will consider your suggestions. My boss is open to ideas and will let me take the lead on some projects or meetings, which is super fun and cool! Not only do we do the contextual work, all associates in the company are enrolled in “AdSchool” where we learn all of the different aspects of what goes into what we do, from building a strategic media plan to executing the buys to analyzing the results, so we can see where we did our best and what we need to do to optimize sales. I really enjoy the work I do because I learn something every day and I feel valued at the company.
What do you think helped get this position after graduation?
A combination of things helped me get this position. I think the main thing that really helped was expressing my strong interest in getting into digital and social media. Companies love to see that you’re passionate about something and willing to learn. Having past internships definitely helped, too, so my resume complemented my interests. Without having some type of experience in the industry, it would have been a lot harder to find a job and might have taken a little longer. I also have a friend that works at the company, which helped me decide I wanted to take the job because she likes the company, too! I asked her about the things that mattered most to me, like the company culture and opportunities for growth. I also asked her how I could prepare for the interview, which I think helped me get this job.
Can you name 3 skills you learned from SC&I that you consistently use on the job?
One main skill that I learned from SC&I that I consistently use on the job is Excel. SC&I offers so many tools and I learned my Excel skills using Lynda.com, which SC&I offers to students for free! You can learn so many different skills online relevant for communication and media jobs.
Another two skills that I learned from SC&I are networking and communication skills. Like I said, SC&I offers so many different tools and resources - you should learn how to utilize them to your advantage because you’re only there for four years. The Mingle events that SC&I’s Career Services hosts are extremely helpful to build your network and practice your communication skills with professionals. I use my communication skills through using proper email etiquette and speaking to different partners every day at my job. It’s very important in the media world to communicate effectively, as it helps businesses operate. Join professional clubs at SC&I, like PRSSA, because those will help you build your network, too! A lot of these clubs also have meetings just so you can practice your skills.
Do you have a specific faculty member or mentor at SC&I that has helped to guide you in the right direction professionally?
Melissa Mitas has helped me ENDLESSLY during this process and steered me into the right direction! Melissa has truly been such an amazing mentor and supported my job search. I run to her for absolutely every career question I have. She was super helpful during my job hunt because she taught me how to properly reach out to professionals and always gave great advice when I was feeling discouraged. I’m extremely lucky to have had a SC&I internship. I really do thank SC&I for, one, giving me such an amazing academic career, but also an internship and a great mentor! The staff at SC&I are always there to help, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask!
What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned over the past year since graduation?
This is a hard question to answer because I’ve learned a lot of important things. But I think the MOST important thing I learned is to be open-minded because it helps both in the work world and in life. When I was applying to jobs, I searched for media-related positions, but I really wanted to find a media strategy position because that’s what I thought I wanted to do. When I went in for interviews, I had my mind set on landing a media strategy job, but things always led me to the investment side. Being open-minded about the position led me to love my job and be happy with where I’m at. Don’t be opposed to different opportunities or ideas because it might just lead you to another passion of yours. I think the advantage of being so young is that we can experiment different things within our careers, so if something doesn’t work, we could always move onto something else! It never hurts to try something and make ourselves open to opportunities.
Do you have any advice for this year’s graduating class at SC&I?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everybody goes through the process of finding their first full-time job and it will be stressful. It’s like a full-time job trying to find one! Even if you don’t know what exactly you want to do, don’t over-stress about finding one so soon. Be open-minded when job hunting because you never know where you’ll end up! It might be the best first job you could ever ask for. We have so much of our lives to figure out what career path to take. Reach out to your network and ask if they’re hiring. Make yourself marketable to employers. Reach out to company recruiters through LinkedIn! And most importantly, utilize the tools and resources SC&I offers, like Career Services. They’re extremely helpful and the service is FREE! Take advantage of the resources and connections you have while you’re there.