February 2016 Family Newsletter

“It’s Never Easy, but Always Enjoyable”

Dear Spiders Family,

Happy 2016 to all! After a lengthy hiatus, I am back on US soil and in Syracuse with the Spiders team once again. When asked about my abroad experience, I have told family and friends that my time in London was “never easy, but always enjoyable.” In this newsletter, you can read about Spider Claire Alex’s time abroad and how she made the most of her experience.

My credo worked well for me while abroad; therefore, I’ve chosen to apply it to life at Spiders. As we embark on a busy spring semester, we must remember that the hardest challenges can be tackled with the right mindset. Overcoming and achieving can be enjoyable, and Spiders know this all too well. Read on to find out how Spiders Alumni Shelby Netschke manages to balance her daily successes and failures in the world of social media.

As Spiders progresses into 2016, we are determined to enjoy the rewards of success and creation. We reflect on our accomplishments during this past fall semester and explore how we can improve. It’s my hope that our extended alumni family will do the same and continue to make us proud!

Will Skalmoski

Where Are They Now?

Spiders Alum Shelby Netschke graduated from SU this past December. Now she’s working as a social media assistant at iHeartRadio and exploring all that post-grad life has to offer.

What has your most ‘real world moment’ been so far?
My most real-world moment was shaking Brendon Urie’s hand (from Panic! At The Disco) and realizing that 1.) Celebrities are just people who aren’t usually very tall, and 2.) I am at a level where I can casually meet amazing artists!

How are you liking your job? Any challenging adjustments?
I love my job! My biggest adjustment is not taking every single tweet so seriously. On social media you have successes and failures every single day. You can’t stare at every tweet for 20 minutes trying to write something mind-blowingly clever. If Shawn Mendes is on Snapchat announcing tour dates from his bathroom, you have to get it on Twitter asap and just hope emojis will cut you some slack.

What are some of the pros and cons of being ‘new’?
Pros: It’s the perfect time to ask questions because everyone expects you to. You have a valuable fresh perspective. You’re not in a routine, so you can meet a lot more people and learn things from wandering around the office
Cons: Trying to find your place in the office culture, forgetting everyone’s names, not knowing what’s “okay” when it comes to taking the office snacks (and beer).

You were at Spiders not too long ago – have your skills and talents been transferrable?
The most important skill for everyone at Spiders to embrace is adaptability. You don’t have to learn enough about every avenue of media to execute the job, but if you’re a designer who can have empathetic and productive conversations with a developer, you are an invaluable asset to the company. I’m supposed to be writing social copy, but I’m already editing last minute graphics when the graphics team isn’t available, or making stupid memes that make my boss laugh. I learned the physical skills at Spiders, but also the mindset of saying “yes” to projects, even if I have to Google a Photoshop tutorial to get it done.

As a fall graduate, you’ve had a bit of a head start. Any advice for your peers entering the job market this spring?
If you worked in HR at a media company and had to sift through hundreds (literally hundreds) of resumes, wouldn’t it be so much easier to pick out the ones that came recommended from your coworkers? Yeah. That’s what happens. Find a way to know someone at the company you want to work at. All you have to do is get coffee with them (don’t ask for a job, they know you need one). Afterwards, send them a thank you email with your resume attached. They have a digital copy FOREVER. If a job opens up next week, next month, or one year from now, they can forward your resume in two clicks. The future is now.

Abroad Perspective

Claire Alex, Spiders Coordinator, studied abroad in London during the fall 2015 semester. Here are four tips on how to make the most of your experience.

Claire Alex | Spiders Coordinator

Be Smart.

This applies to everything: packing, traveling, school work, nights out. Whatever you do, be smart, but also stay informed. You are in a new place and that is exciting, but it comes with a new set of responsibilities. Before you go, download local news apps, research the best credit card for traveling, Google Map your neighborhood, and most importantly, talk to people who have gone before you.

When it comes to traveling, make sure you research the hostel you’re booking, check the weather, and learn a little bit about the place you’re going. This all sounds pretty basic, but it’s key to a great weekend or spring break while abroad. While traveling is fun, you have to remember that you’re there to go to school, and that should be your number one priority. I found that mapping out each month visually, on a calendar I had in my room, helped me stay organized. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to have the best semester of my college career, both academically and socially. While you can control most aspects of your time abroad, you will most likely run into obstacles which are out of your control, but affect you in a big way. I will never forget where I was when the terrorist attacks in Paris took place. I was in Dublin enjoying a concert with my friends when the first CNN news alert came through. That night, the most important thing I could do as an individual was stay informed (…and make sure my roommate who was traveling in Paris that weekend was okay).

Focus on Yourself.

Now this one is hard. Especially when you’re crammed in a tiny European apartment with five of your closest (or maybe not the closest) friends. I think the best way to focus on yourself, in these circumstances, is to expand your thinking. Living abroad has a crazy way of reshaping the way you think and how you view the world around you. It is said that a person learns more intensely and is more observant when they are thrown into a new environment. Take advantage of this! Let your time abroad be about you. Whether you notice it or not, your perspectives will change and if you make yourself a priority, you will be inspired to seek out new adventures all around you.

Let Go.

I should start by saying, this is not easy. If you’re being smart and focusing on yourself, there isn’t much time left for spontaneity. But, you need to make time! I found it easiest to let go and let live when I was traveling, specifically on my fall break trip through Italy. Yes, I had done my research before and I was the group go-to for anything related to the trip, but I still made time to explore. Exploring, whether you are walking around your neighborhood or winding through the canals of Venice, is the key to letting go. This is when you don’t have any expectations.  This is when you will get lost in a local book shop or pulled into a local café from the smell of fresh pastries. If you let your surroundings mold your experience, you will find that you let go and find balance, ultimately enhancing your abroad experience.

Eat Well.

One of the most disheartening things I heard while abroad was, “Oh, I don’t like that,” or “I had that one time, I don’t want to try it again.” Hello! Where are you? This is one of the only times in your life where you will be exposed to such a diverse set of cultures. So why not take advantage of all the great cuisine that’s around you! Try something, and if you don’t like it, move on. But more often than not, that “gross” meal your grandmother made you when you were seven is going to taste a lot better when you are sitting down for a posh dinner in London. Your senses are on overload when you’re abroad, which is a good thing. And the one sense you should never neglect is taste. Take this time to develop your palate, for both food and drink. I mean, why not!?

Alumni Spotlight

Melanie Leis

Will Skalmoski | Content Publisher

For the first Family Newsletter of 2016, we spoke with Melanie Leis who spent the early part of her career as a graduate assistant at ITS from 2010-2012. Now based in New York City working for consulting firm McKinsey & Company, we asked Melanie about her background, favorite ITS memories, and career path…

Melanie grew up in Costa Rica, spending her childhood in a small town an hour outside of San Jose. She later moved to the capital city, earning her undergraduate degree in economics at Universidad de Costa Rica.

Melanie arrived in Syracuse in 2010 to pursue a joint masters in Public Administration and International Relations in the top-ranked Maxwell School. Aside from Maxwell’s excellent reputation, she explained that the opportunity to become a graduate assistant at ITS was a “defining factor” in why she chose Syracuse University.

While working as a GA, Melanie led one of two teams charged with creating a website for HOPE, an NGO in Bangladesh specializing in foreign adoptions. She describes this project as one of her favorites from her time at SU, and also credits it as being an essential precursor to her current job. At ITS, Melanie grew to appreciate diverse skill sets and teamwork. She compares it to her consulting work, citing the need to work with various types of professionals in order to get the best results.

During her graduate studies, Melanie completed an internship with the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Though both “exciting and interesting,” she emerged from the internship with a desire to work on more concrete concepts and actions. She then focused her attention on data driven consulting, and was hired by McKinsey & Company’s Costa Rican office following her graduation in 2012.

In a career that has now taken her to New York City, she analyzes the US healthcare system from a data-focused perspective. With a system that has changed over the past few years, Melanie helps clients develop models to comply with shifts in policy and strategy.

While further reflecting on her ITS memories, she tells her favorite Jono story: “When I first started working, I was very nervous about doing the right thing. Jono used to pop into my cubicle and yell ‘You’re fired!’ and maintain a straight face for a few seconds. He would always walk away giggling!”

Spiders Reflect on Fall Semester

Kirsty Fraser | Content Publisher

We asked Spiders to tell us about their work during the fall semester. Here are the highlights:

Megan Elliot, junior, on creating infographics and SVG banners: “The biggest challenge was the steep learning curve, especially on the design side of things, as I had no ‘formal’ training. Although, I did enjoy learning on the job as I went along.”

Kate Percevault, senior, on creating icons for each SU college: “This icon set didn’t start out with what I designed. I came up with different approaches and at one point I was creating vector illustrations of almost every building on campus.”

Shazif Shaikh, freshman, on his work during fall semester: “My main goal was to impress Jono, and I think I did this with my data visualization project.”

Ellie Haines, junior, on WordPress: “I liked learning about WordPress and the work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s been fun to learn it more in depth, and learn its quirks and tricks.”

Markos Manoledakis, sophomore, on being a system administrator: “I like when a Spider has a problem and they come to me and ask for help, although that doesn’t mean I wish for them to have a problem!”

Learn more about Fall 2015 at Spiders >