BY CLAIRE LEADEN AND SEAN MCINTYRE
MANAGING/FEATURES EDITOR & SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR
Both the political and international studies honor societies welcomed an alumnus speaker at their ceremony who provided a learning opportunity for students across all majors last Monday.
Once the student members agreed to the oath created by the organizations, posed for pictures and received their certificates, Manhattan College alumnus George Fontas ’02 gave an insider speech on the hardships of job hunting.
“It is incredibly difficult for students out of college today to find job, why?” Fontas asked the audience at the beginning of his talk. “Because there are a ton of you.”
Fontas is currently the Senior Vice President of Capalino and Company and serves as a government lobbyist. His clients include the Guggenheim Museum and large land developers and his career path started in 2002 when he was a senior at MC and began his job hunt.
“Every time you hit a friend button on Facebook or LinkedIn, you might not realize it since you may consider it more social, but you are networking,” Fontas said. “You are networking with the next group of people you are going to be working for.”
During his presentation, Fontas expressed the importance of networking through social media.
“The first step to building a group of advisors is networking by using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Alumni Relations,” Fontas said.
He repeatedly stated how critical Facebook and LinkedIn are when networking with potential employees, an advantage college students have now that he did not have in 2002.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs over the years and they are well-qualified individuals who are looking to take entry level jobs,” Fontas said.
Building a network is important, but Fontas emphasized that maintaining it is vital to create the possibility of contacting people in the future for jobs.
Later in his speech, Fontas argued that the biggest opportunity for students to get their foot in the door of a company is to utilize their student statuses when speaking to employers.
“You have one opportunity that many people do not have; you are in college,” he said. “You can send an email or LinkedIn message, or call someone randomly like me and say ‘Hi I’m a college student, and I would love to see you for 15 minutes because I want to get into the field of government, non-profit or international affairs, and I have no idea where to start.’”
Building upon the advantages of being a student, Fontas spoke of how internships and building real world skills will immensely benefit individuals when interviewing for their careers as seniors.
“Internships are incredibly important,” he said. “Often people get hired after their internships for jobs. Internships open up doors for you for introducing people who you had not known existed, and they teach you things you had not known existed.”
The ability to utilize internships as a college student will differentiate one’s resume from many others that are applying to the same job.
“It was my job experience that separated my resume from all the other resumes,” Fontas said.
Earlier in the evening, Pi Sigma Alpha, the political honor society, and Sigma Iota Rho, the international honor society, held their annual induction ceremonies. Dr. Winsome Downie of the Government Department accepted three students into Pi Sigma Alpha while Dr. Pamela Chasek of the International Studies Program inducted four students for Sigma Iota Rho.
Students in the audience, who were government and international studies majors and others alike, absorbed Fontas’ insight.
“The thing I got out of it was never burn bridges no matter how miniscule you think your contact or relationship with someone is,” junior international studies major Lenisa Patterson said. “Just always keep in contact because you never know how they can help you.”
“It was cool hearing about his work with lobbying in general because my uncle is actually in politics,” sophomore business management major Alexander Levy said. “It’s kind of interesting how everything comes full circle, he came back here and is giving us advice, and who knows this could be us in 10 years, coming back and giving advice here.”
Professors were happy about Fontas’ return to campus.
“I remember when George was a senior trying to make his way and it’s great to see him come back and give advice to other people, especially since he’s someone who has really carved a path and done really well for himself,” government professor Margaret Groarke said. Groarke is currently on sabbatical and came back to campus for the inductions.
Perhaps Fontas’ biggest piece of advice was given toward the end of his speech.
“Cast your net wide,” he said. “Always be open to new ideas when applying for jobs.”