Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Ioannou, FCRH '13, GSAS '14

What I Wish I Knew When I Was Still In College
College is that beautiful time where you’re entering into adulthood, but you still have a bit of time before knowing the true struggles of how hard the job hunt can be, or how taxes will take away half your salary. But, college is also a time to take advantage of as many opportunities that you can. Getting your name out there, especially from a young age, most definitely can help you in the long run.

Personally, I currently helped start Not Another Millennial Blog, as well as am Editor of Rising Apple Blog, and I contribute to SNY’s MetsBlog. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I didn’t get into writing until way after grad school, and I wish I had started sooner. I didn’t make my name known until I was already out in the real world working. And no, it’s not a bad thing, but you bet I wish I had started from back when I was in college. Who knows where I’d be now if I had?

And that’s why I’m here, to share with you some things with you that I wish I had taken advantage of when I was in college.

Utilize your social media
Social media is obviously a lot of fun when you’re in college -- you connect with new friends, air your grievances about how expensive college is or about how hard that final was, and so on and so forth. But, there’s so much on social media that you can be taking advantage of from now. There are countless Twitter chats out there for millennials where you can connect with others around your age or a bit earlier, who just may be in the field that you’re looking at. Connecting with these people may just be the great launching pad you need.

Keep your social media clean
Speaking of social media, keep it clean. It’s tempting to post that party picture, I know, but don’t. Hiring managers will stalk your online presence. Either keep everything extremely private, or make sure that your public profiles are clean. Think to yourself: “would I hire someone who’s posting this for the position?” If anything, keep your personal stuff under lock and key in private accounts, and create public ones for professional purposes.

Stay in touch with professors
This applies especially to any professors that may be (or teach) in the field that you want to go into. You never know who they know, or what opportunities they may know of in a year or two from now. For instance, whenever there’s a job opening at my company, I always email my professors that I have stayed in touch with – and some of them still do the same even though I’ve graduated a while ago now.

Take advantage of both paid and unpaid opportunities
Yes, I interned throughout the majority of college, but I never thought to take it one step further and see what freelance opportunities there were available to me (online and offline) to get my name out there. At Rising Apple, we have some college kids who write for us, and I truly wish I had thought of doing that when I was back at Fordham to spearhead the current path I’m on. Of course, there are many other opportunities out there besides for writing. Look into them – freelance opportunities are a great start. And in today’s day and age where many millennials have a full-time job and a side-hustle, freelancing continues to become more and more popular.

Go to networking opportunities
I never went to any of the networking opportunities Career Services had, and I regret it. They were free, why didn’t I take advantage?! Who knows who I could’ve met! You know that old saying, “you never know unless you try?” I truly had nothing to lose by going to these networking events, and I look back at it and think to myself what opportunities I may have missed there.

About the Author
Michelle Ioannou is a proud Fordham alum who tried her hardest to never leave, getting both her BA in Communications and Media Studies and her MA in Public Communications. This, combined with her love of giving back, led her into the nonprofit world where she does social media and event planning. Michelle helped start Not Another Millennial Blog to help her peers through her past experiences and life events, and to try and defy the negative stereotype that surrounds her generation. Additionally, due to her love (or what some may call an unhealthy obsession) with the New York Mets, she has found herself as Editor of Rising Apple Blog, and a contributor for MetsBlog. Email her at michelle@notanothermillennial.com to chat more!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Risk vs. Reward - Choosing Your Startup #4

For the next few weeks, we're going to be featuring a five part series by Sally Bolig, Head of Talent Acquisition at Yotpo. Stay tuned to learn more about how to decide if the startup life is for you!

Friends and family sometimes recommend questions to ask, but for those my suggestions are the following. Don’t ask questions you won’t truly understand the answers to. Such questions might include ones around ARR or burn rate.

Also, refrain from asking the following unless you feel that given the conversation you have already had, the questions are appropriate and relevant ones.

Some companies won’t be comfortable disclosing the following information and it’s important for you to know that it is not a red flag if they don’t. It will be entirely company-dependent.

1. How are quotas determined?
Asking about quota attainment is the right thing to do, but asking how those quotas are determined can be perceived as inquiring into intimate information in regards to company growth, specific employee success and failure, and a number of other things that aren’t appropriate to explore during an interview.

High level answer - generally quotas are determined by assessing the existing success of a team, then setting goals that will allow them to perform but also be challenged.

2. What is your company’s burn rate?
If the company hasn’t raised money in a while (i.e. over two years), it’s worth asking about the plan for the company and the end-goal they’re looking to meet. This gives you insight into burn rate without asking specifically that.

People often ask about burn rate because they want to know whether the company’s future looks bright or gloomy. You can accomplish an understanding of this through the first-tier questions above. That being said, if you understand the logistics around burn rate, some companies will be comfortable speaking to details around it.

3. What is your company’s ARR (annual recurring revenue)?
This question is asked for the same reason people ask about burn rate. Although ARR is something companies share with their employees, it’s often not something shared during an interview.

4. Equity Expectations
It is absolutely fine to ask whether equity is a component of the package, but you shouldn’t assume it will be. Numerous startups nowadays are offering equity to every person who comes on board as a demonstration of “investment in each employee.”

But there’s a lot to be said for offering equity exclusively to employees who have put in the time to demonstrate an investment in his or her company, rather than the moment he or she walked through the door.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Risk vs. Reward - Choosing Your Startup #5

For the next few weeks, we're going to be featuring a five part series by Sally Bolig, Head of Talent Acquisition at Yotpo. Stay tuned to learn more about how to decide if the startup life is for you!

Don’t ask
1. Is this co-founder the real deal?
Use Glassdoor to explore CEO approval ratings. Look directly below the star rating for “Approve of CEO” to see what previous and current employees are saying. Do your due diligence in regards to looking through the CEO’s experience and reading articles he or she has been featured in or written.

It’s a silly question to ask in an interview because there is so much research you could have done in advance, and it’s also a nearly impossible thing to concisely answer.

Absolutely ask questions around the CEO’s involvement with the company and on an individual basis, or even about his or her personality, but avoid asking whether they’re capable of running their own company well.

At the end of the day, these are not rules. For every example given above, I’m certain you can find a company that defied the typical trends. Will asking these questions guarantee you a risk-free transition into a startup opportunity? Absolutely not.

It’s impossible to know the reality of startup until you’ve graduated and begun working at one. The hope is that by utilizing this guide, Fordham students will be able to make the most informed decision possible and to effectively demonstrate their dedication to joining this ever-growing, ever-changing community.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Risk vs. Reward - Choosing Your Startup #3

For the next few weeks, we're going to be featuring a five part series by Sally Bolig, Head of Talent Acquisition at Yotpo. Stay tuned to learn more about how to decide if the startup life is for you!

These second-tier questions are to pick and choose, and to include only when you feel that you would be uncomfortable proceeding forward without this knowledge.

There’s no guarantee that an interviewer will love these questions, but you aren’t crossing any lines by inquiring about these things.

1. Will you have to stay in the office until your boss leaves?
If so, this could get tricky very quickly. Of course, as a hard worker, there will be nights when you stay even later than your boss. But for it to be an expectation would be a huge red flag.

2. Is this an “8 hour a day” type of job or a “finish your work” type of job?
Only you can determine which of these you’re looking for but chances are that in startup, you’re looking at a “finish your work” type of day. For that reason, some days will be 8 hours long and others will be 12.

3. Is it okay to take vacation?
You should be able to take vacation. Typically companies offer between 10-18 accrued vacation days per year.

4. What startup shift could occur that would eliminate your position?
Things are ever-changing in startup and it’s important to be aware of whether management has given thought already to in what scenarios your position could be eliminated. And it’s good for you to understand the risk.

Additionally, management should be able to articulate to you at least one reason why. If they say there is no scenario in which this would occur, read that as a red flag.

5. Does there seem to exist a core “in-crowd” of employees #1-30? Or is the company adaptive and accommodating to newcomers?
There is no harm in the OGs (original gangstas) of a company being particularly close-knit. Look at what they built! But it’s important that they’re welcoming to new hires, and that initiatives are being made by the organization to help everyone feel welcomed and familiar.