September 22, 2020 | , ,

Philly Grit: The COVID Success Story of Catherine Fiore

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Catherine Fiore is Philly born and bred. Once a Campus Philly intern, she had her life turned upside-down when she unexpectedly lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catherine’s Philly grit shined through, as she landed a new job at Philadelphia-based Entercom soon after. As a major communications company, Entercom spans its digital reach through multiple channels. They deliver on-demand broadcasts, podcasts, live events, and more to every major market in the U.S.!

We had the opportunity to chat with Catherine about what it’s like to jump into a new job virtually.

What is your day-to-day life like at Entercom?

As a Digital Project Manager, my position is designed to help advertisers execute their digital marketing campaigns. This entails working very closely with the sales team and their clients, ensuring that the advertising campaign runs as expected and supporting any updates throughout. A lot of my time is spent on Zoom calls with clients. I facilitate onboarding calls after a campaign is sold and follow up monthly with reporting recaps.

When I’m not working directly with the client, I communicate campaign details through internal fulfillment systems that aid in order workflow. Finally, I’m constantly jumping on a call or responding to an email at a moment’s notice. I’m there to support the sales team through the entire process and be a resource to all parties involved. My favorite aspect of the job is that every day is different, and there are always new situations to navigate.

What was your major at Rutgers-Camden? How has your academic career prepared you for your professional career?

I majored in Marketing at Rutgers University Camden (RUC), and during my time there I continuously sought out classes that were challenging. One course in particular that directly prepared me for my career was The Business Leader Development Program. BLDP was a semester-long program which required an application and interview in order to be accepted into the class. The goal of the program was to spend time focusing on a specific topic; my class studied social media marketing.

I was able to dive into all things social media as it related to business. I worked closely with classmates to create a social media marketing plan for a local nonprofit. To guide us through this project, several alumni spoke to the class with their experience in the professional world. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn about social media for business use, which would be beneficial in the future, but I also got to network with fellow BLDP classmates and school alumni. This program complimented my core marketing classes, which together set me up for success during my professional career.

Can you tell us about your experience transitioning from college to the real world? Were you scared, excited, nervous? How did you hone these emotions?

Ah, the real world! To be completely honest, I was fairly excited to get started with my career. With that being said, I didn’t jump right into a job that was even remotely related to my major. I spent the first six months post-graduation working full-time as an Administrative Assistant at the Rutgers University Police Department. During this time, I stayed in contact with my network, grabbed coffee with mentors, attended Campus Philly’s Spark Philly event, and interviewed for a few marketing-related jobs. While I was eager to start my career in marketing, I knew that I didn’t want to rush into a job that wasn’t the right fit. I decided to take my time and use my resources to find what was the best next step for me!

Tell us about your career path leading up to Entercom. Any advice on finding a job post-grad?

As I mentioned previously, my career path started with a job that was unrelated to my major. I worked as an administrative assistant, which was a work-study job that turned into a full-time position. While this role helped enhance my soft skills, it was not a permanent situation. After months of networking, one of my RUC professors presented me with an opportunity at Beasley Media Group. My professor was able to put me in touch with the hiring manager, and we scheduled an interview shortly after. I was offered the role and hired as a Digital Marketing Coordinator. I spent two and a half years working at Beasley Media Group, where I had the chance to work with great people and gained a lot of valuable experience that has helped me significantly in my new role at Entercom.

My advice to landing a job post-grad is to network. If there is one theme to my career path thus far, it’s the power of networking. Almost every job or internship I’ve landed has come from a connection in my network. It’s much easier to get an interview for a job from a referral than it is to blindly apply online and hope to hear back. One tip is to take a look at LinkedIn before you apply to a job. It’s a good starting point to reach out and see if you or someone in your network has a connection at that company.

What was it like starting a job during COVID-19 and in a virtual setting? Tell us about your “COVID Success Story!”

I never expected to start a new job in the middle of a pandemic, but part of having a career is being able to adapt to change. To give some context, my previous company did two rounds of layoffs several months apart due to the impact of COVID-19. Unfortunately, I was let go in the second round back in June. It was an unexpected and emotional experience to say the least, but I tried to remain optimistic. I stayed in contact with my network during the transition. I ended up hearing from a former colleague who worked at Beasley but left to work at Entercom. She thought of me for a position that just opened up in the digital marketing department. She passed along my resume to the hiring manager, which landed me an interview and eventually a job offer!

I had no idea what to expect for my first day on the job. What normally would have been a week-long in-person training turned into a week of back-to-back Zoom calls. It was a learning experience for myself and my new boss. It was her first time training virtually, so we were in it together! It went well, and I felt more than prepared to get to work. One major benefit of starting a job virtually is not having to worry about the added stress of commuting to a “new” office.

What makes you want to keep your career in the Greater Philadelphia Region?

For starters, I love Philly! I grew up right outside of the city and decided to stay in the area after graduation. From a career standpoint, it couldn’t be a better place to get started. Philadelphia is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the country, so I knew there would be endless potential for career growth. While it is a large city, at times it can feel like a small world. I’ve crossed paths with people I’ve met from school, internships, and work on multiple occasions. I found that being able to stay connected with my established network is a valuable aspect of working in Philly.

How do you or did you build your professional network? How does connecting with others help you in your career?

I began building my network during college and have continued to do so to this day. I started building my network in a few ways: as a student, through my internships, and during my career. At each stage, I’ve connected with people by getting involved and getting to know them. For example, I joined activities on campus, grabbed lunch with colleagues, and joined the company softball team.

I made it a point to put myself out there in order to build relationships. In addition, I’ve stayed in touch with people that I’ve met along the way to maintain those relationships. I follow my network on LinkedIn, and I often reach out with an email. I cannot overstate the importance of building a professional network, and I credit the network I’ve built for my career path to date.

If you could offer one piece of advice to a college freshman AND a college senior, what would it be?

To a college freshman: It’s never too early to start putting yourself out there. Get involved on campus. It’s really important to interact with your peers and connect with leaders in the community; joining clubs and attending events is a good start. Also, make sure you get to know your professors and classmates, especially in the classes that are related to your major. By doing so, you’re giving yourself the chance to form relationships that will be mutually beneficial in the future.

To a college senior: It’s time to get more serious! Although you should enjoy your last year of college, it’s also really important to start planning for what’s next. Remember those connections you started making freshman year? It’s time to reach out to them….send an email, schedule a Zoom meeting, and grab a cup of coffee with professors or supervisors from internships. Let them know you are graduating and looking for opportunities. Trust me, they want to help you land your first gig! Senior year is a good time to tap into the network you’ve spent the past four years creating.

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