“When I graduated Muhlenberg, I had no idea I would be here,” said Emma Taffet ’13, Global Business Strategy Manager at Buzzfeed, as she addressed a group of current Muhlenberg students sitting wide-eyed at a conference table, still trying to take in the fact that they were in BuzzFeed Headquarters in New York City.
On Thursday, Sept. 12, the Muhlenberg College Career Center bussed students to New York City for one of their Career Road Trips. These trips are organized throughout the year as a way to provide students with the chance to get a glimpse of the top alumni-connected industries. It allows them to spend a day with alumni at their companies, hear about the various opportunities available there and ask questions.
This past road trip was split into four tracks, sending students to The Public Theater & 321 Theatrical Management, CFRA & Bloomberg, CNN & Buzzfeed and Whistle Sports & Buzzfeed.
“In every industry you are selling something to someone. If you know how to make a compelling argument using data, people [are] more likely [to] buy your product.”
When the students visiting Buzzfeed arrived in the company’s conference room, they raced to grab all the company mementos that Taffet was throwing out on the table for them.
“In 2013, BuzzFeed was just coming onto the scene, and I didn’t even know what a Global Business Strategy Manager was,” Taffet shared. “I invited four of my colleagues to speak as well based upon whose roles in our business I thought were interesting, but also with roles that I didn’t know existed [when I was] in college.”
Taffet majored in English with a minor in Political Science, and through a common bond over that degree with her first boss, she found that the most important part of her major was the idea that you have to take data and craft it into an argument that can convince someone of a point.
“In every industry you are selling something to someone,” said Taffet. “If you know how to make a compelling argument using data, people [are] more likely [to] buy your product.”
This was a common trend among all of Taffet’s colleagues, and something Muhlenberg students really took to heart.
“It was really comforting to see how an alum utilizes various skills from her English major, such as critical thinking and analysis, in different ways,” explained Haley Hnatuk ‘20. “It goes to show you that you don’t need to get hung up on knowing what your path is going to be in college and that everything that you learn here has the possibility to be applicable in your future career.”
Taffet and all her colleagues agreed that retaining what you learned in college and throughout your work experience is necessary. Ashley Nesby, BuzzFeed’s Product Strategy Manager, also stressed this advice, which helped her succeed throughout her career. Brad Van Shaik, BuzzFeed’s creative director, advised students not to leave their jobs if they are still learning, and when they no longer feel like there is anything left to learn, then it is time to stop.
“It goes to show you that you don’t need to get hung up on knowing what your path is going to be in college and that everything that you learn here has the possibility to be applicable in your future career.”
Hnatuk was not the only one to resonate with this advice. Dana Bonner ’22 found it comforting as well.
“It was nice to hear that it’s okay to change career paths throughout your life, and knowing how to know when it’s time to move on was really helpful,” said Bonner.
However, Taffet’s presentation was not all just advice. She also shared what she wished she knew before entering the job world.
“What they don’t tell you is your first two years at work are like boot camp,” said Taffet. “You work 12-14 hour days and you really learn to crunch numbers.”
Taffet concluded with some valuable tips for students that she hopes will ease their minds for the future, such as the importance of common sense and honesty.
Taffet embodied the point of this trip: to show students the possibilities that they might not have thought to exist in college, as well as showing them that everybody will follow a different path. There is no “normal.”
Photo: Muhlenberg students meet alumni working at BuzzFeed, Credit: Career Center