Tameka Edwards ’16 earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University at Albany and went on to receive a master’s degree in communications from her alma mater in 2018. She was working as the Graduate Assistant in the Advancement Events office, down the hall from the Alumni Association office, when graduation was approaching.
With graduation approaching and her career looming in the distance, Tameka wanted to connect with an alum who worked in a creative industry in New York City. She knew about UCAN, the UAlbany Career Advisory Network, but had yet to take advantage of it.
As a student, Tameka made the most of her time at UAlbany, working as an orientation leader, a tour guide, a Residential Life assistant, and the Student Association programming associate director. She interned and studied abroad in London and South Africa. But when it came time to start looking for a job post-graduation, Tameka felt she needed to improve her networking skills and make more connections with creative professionals.
When she created an account on UCAN, Tameka connected with Shamara Cox, a producer at A&E Television Networks. The women had grown up in the same neighborhood and had similar backgrounds.
“It’s really inspiring to me to hear from everyday professionals,” Tameka says. “I like to hear how much everyone had to go through to make it where they are. Hearing stories helps me to know that I can get through mine.”
Shamara gave Tameka detailed networking advice on what resources to use, what organizations to join, and most importantly, how to talk to people at networking events. She reminded Tameka to be herself and not sell herself short.
Online platforms like UCAN didn’t exist when Shamara ’09 was at UAlbany, so when she received information about it, she quickly joined as a career advisor. Without a media, film, and TV department at UAlbany, Shamara knew she had a unique opportunity to share her path to success with like-minded individuals, and support budding careers in the media industry.
“I felt like I didn’t have any direction when I was graduating,” Shamara says. “Just having that platform would have really helped me.”
As an advisor, Shamara has worked with dozens of students, providing them with career tips, resume writing help, and doing informational interviews. She always leaves the focus up to the advisee.
“You can hear the excitement and enthusiasm in their voices,” Shamara says. “I make sure that I’m fully prepared for consultations because they come willing and ready.”
Shamara likes the program because she can work around her busy schedule and talk with students in the evenings, but her support doesn’t just stop at the consultation(s). She encourages students to follow-up, which Tameka made sure to do.
“She reminds me of myself when I was graduating,” Shamara says. “We had a wonderful conversation,” and because of Tameka’s preparedness, determination, and follow-up, Shamara took Tameka’s polished resume and sent it around. “I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open just in case anything comes in,” Shamara admits.
Both Tameka and Shamara believe the key to future success occurs before graduation. Tameka encourages students to get involved in extracurricular activities as early as their freshman year. Shamara says the best thing a student can do is intern. Joining groups, following-up, and not being afraid to put yourself out there helps, too.
Someday, Tameka hopes to be a UCAN advisor and help graduating students like herself. “It’s nice to have a fresh ear,” she says, “and to engage with someone who’s not part of your daily life, but who has a common background as you. You can talk for hours about the school you went to, your different experiences, and what you learned while you were there.”
By joining UCAN, you can make a new connection, and you never know where that connection might lead you in your career.
For additional information about UCAN or other mentoring opportunities on campus, please contact Meg McCarthy, Career Services Coordinator, at the UAlbany Alumni Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 442-3098.