Though droves of graduating seniors are filling job
vacancies around the country next month, some may find
work right under their noses.
Take College of Liberal Arts alumni Erick Littleford,
a 2004 Public Policy graduate, and Kristi Ziehl, a 1991
Professional & Technical Communication graduate, for
instance. They found careers right at RIT—Littleford as an assistant director of Alumni Relations and Ziehl
as former ITS facilities coordinator and now the portal
program manager. The two met up with Liberal Smarts
to talk about their positions and how they landed them.
Liberal Smarts: How did you land your job?
Littleford: I mentioned to a few administrators with
whom I had a relationship that I was looking to stay in
Rochester. One person asked, “Have you ever looked at
Alumni Relations?” I really started to think about it,
and it seemed Alumni Relations would be the perfect fit
for me—I love interacting with people, and I know a lot
about the campus. A position had just opened up, and
I e-mailed my résumé and cover letter to Kelly Redder,
executive director of Alumni Relations.
There were three or four rounds of in-depth application
interviews: I met with Kelly again and then with
the entire staff. I was one of the top three candidates. I
actually didn’t get the job that I was applying for, but
a new position was created: Kelly’s superiors had given
their permission to hire two people instead of one. It was
tremendous—humbling—because in no way would I ever
think something like that would happen.
Ziehl: When I was an undergraduate student at RIT, I
worked for this same division, but it was then known as
Information Systems & Computing (ISC). I held several
jobs, one of them a co-op. So when I applied in 1996, I
had connections with the department and many people
remembered me—they knew my work habits and skills.
In turn, I was already very familiar with the responsibilities,
the customers, and the culture of the position.
And I think having worked outside the university helped
make me a more diverse, appealing candidate.
settled in the
as manager of the
RIT web portal.
Photo by Jon Gilbert
Since you had already made connections at RIT as
a student, did you find it easier or harder to land a
job here than at other places where you applied?
Littleford: I think easier. Since I knew Kelly and Kelly
knew me, I had an informational interview right then and
there. Because I had that relationship, it was nothing for
her to say, “Let’s go out for lunch and talk about it.”
Ziehl: I absolutely feel that my connection to RIT as both
a student and especially as a student employee helped
me. They already knew what kind of employee I was, and
I knew what this place was all about.
What are some of the positives and negatives of
Littleford: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a negative, but a challenge,
and you face it wherever you go: limited resources.
So the challenge becomes: How creative are you? The
positives are endless. Since I’ve been working, I’ve been
to Chicago and New York City; I know I’ll be going to Atlanta,
Orlando, Rhode Island, Baltimore (my home area)
and, again, New York City. So you get to travel. And I’m
getting paid to go out and interact with people and build
Ziehl: I love working with students, and I enjoy the atmosphere
here. As would be true with just about any place, I
dislike some of the politics.
What are your daily tasks and responsibilities?
Littleford: I track down alumni. See where they are in
their lives, their careers, and how we can support them. I
make them aware of the services we offer. A lot of it turns
out to be behind-the-scenes logistics for different events.
Outside of that, I work with volunteer coordinator Stefania
LoMonaco to identify alumni speakers who maybe get to
come to campus as part of her Career Speaker series.
Ziehl: I get to work on a lot of interesting IT projects. Much
of my time is spent working on projects with others, the
future direction of the portal, and keeping track of the
details of both.
Being at RIT, do you feel like a student again?
Littleford: I am still a part-time student, but when you get
that full-time job, you quickly realize you are no longer a
student. As a student, even with a full load, you’re always
going to have breaks in your day. When you’re working
full-time, you’re on from the very beginning of the day,
constantly thinking and working. And then with this job,
there are a lot of untraditional hours.
Ziehl: I only feel like a student when I’m taking classes.
Do you have a different set of friendships now?
Littleford: As a student, I used to love Buffalo Wild
Wings—every Tuesday, 30-cent wings. But I’ve realized
that it’s really just students who go there to have a good
time. Now, I don’t have that much time to go, and as a staff
member, I really need to separate that relationship.
Ziehl: Since I started here a long time ago, that connection
is more distant. However, I now have many faculty and
staff friends who were working here when I was a student.
I also have colleagues that I’m friends with who used to
work for me!
Public Policy graduate
found his niche as
assistant director of
Photo by Jon Gilbert
If you were to give new, job-seeking graduates
three tips that you feel would most help them succeed,
what would they be?
1) Use Co-op and Career Services or a faculty member
you really trust to take a good look at your résumé and
2) Identify your network: faculty and staff, community
members, maybe people in your church, maybe someone
you volunteered with. E-mail and let them know you’re
3) Stay motivated. I applied to so many jobs—it was a
part of my daily routine. It really comes down to practice
and confidence. You want to know you’re an expert
on what you have to offer.
1) Learn to write well, especially proposals and presentations.
2) Use and keep every connection you make here at
RIT. Every person you know here knows tons more
people, and that can be to your advantage.
3) Take risks. As you get more settled, choices you make
are weightier and influenced by your responsibilities.
How might graduating seniors go about applying
for a job at RIT?
Littleford: RIT does a good job of posting their openings
on Career Zone. If you’re looking to stay at RIT, most of
the time you can send someone an e-mail and say, “Hey,
I’m a student, about to graduate, and I’m thinking of
sticking around. Can we go to Java Wally’s over a cup
of coffee and talk about this position?” Invite them to
coffee. A lot of it’s done over coffee.
Ziehl: RIT posts their positions online, but if you’re very
interested in working in a particular department, make sure to talk to them. They may not have a position
open, but they’re more likely to keep you in mind when something does open up.