Recent COM Alumni Share Their Stories in Panel

The graduate alumni panel from left to right: Monique Derico (PR ’16), Kevin Hinsley (Ad ’16), Bridget Yang (MC Research ’16), and TJ Desai (Comm Studies ’16)

On Thursday, four recent COM graduates returned to answer questions from current students and share stories about their postgraduate experiences. Covering everything from interview tips to visa sponsorships, the panel placated the nerves of students graduating in May.

Each alumnus represented a different major from within the Department of Mass Communication, Advertising, and Public Relations. Monique Derico, public relations ‘16, now works at Schneider and Associates–but her path to that position was loaded with obstacles.

“I applied to so many different places, and I didn’t hear back from any of them,” Derico said. “I had started applying in May, and I didn’t hear back until July. It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least.”

After filling out many applications, Derico said she was thrilled to hear back from Schneider Associates. She completed three rounds of interviews, and she felt confident in her performance. For this reason, she was devastated when she was not chosen for the position.

“I can’t stress enough,” said Derico. “You cannot give up during this process.”

“I was so upset, but I knew I had to keep trying,” she said. Her determination ultimately paid off; a month after being rejected from the initial position at Schneider Associates, the company offered her an interview for a different position on a new project. Unfortunately, the interview was 16 hours away from where Derico was staying.

“Oh, yes, I drove 16 hours,” she said, laughing. “And it was worth it. I can’t stress enough: You cannot give up during this process.”

Kevin Hinsley, advertising ‘16, iterated Derico’s point about perseverance. He emphasized the importance of interning and gaining experience while in school. He now works for as an in-house copywriter, and he says that the internship he previously held with the company led to his current position.

“During my time there, I took on whatever extra projects would come my way,” he said. “I was a nonstop idea machine, which is something I learned to be while at COM. You have to show them that you want it.”

Hinsley offered insight on in-house advertising, and Bridget Xueer Yang, marketing communication research ’16, gave students a look into the agency side.

Hinsley now works at, where he interned prior to going full time.

Yang is an analyst at Hill Holiday, and she found out about the job opening through networking with COM guest speakers and alumni.

“COM taught me how to network. Chatting on LinkedIn got me a lot of responses – I’d say eight out of ten interviews were from referrals.”

Yang’s job hunt was especially difficult because she was an international student. Many of the students attending the panel were also from outside the country, and they asked Yang and TJ Desai, communication studies ’16, about how to navigate that additional challenge.

Desai discussed the challenge of getting sponsorship as an international candidate.

“For me, honesty worked best. When I was offered jobs, I told them, ‘Look, I need a sponsorship for my visa.’” Desai’s visa process was especially strenuous, and she was forced to temporarily move to Canada while waiting for her work-related visa to be approved. She now works at Grant Marketing, and she is grateful for the support that the company gave her throughout the visa process.

“I was working remotely, full-time, for my employer in Canada. When you put in that much work, and that much effort, it works out.”

For students attending the panel, the information shared by the recent grads shed some light on the process of finding employment. For Yu Ting Le, an Emerging Media Studies student graduating in May, the panel was helpful.

Questions came prepared with compelling questions.

“It’s good to talk to alumni that are involved in the real industry,” Le said. “I’m going to try to remember all of the things they’ve told me when I’m applying for my own jobs.”

Derico capped off the panel with a lasting bit of motivation. “We’re at COM, so we’re all great,” she said. “Like, all of us, we are great at what we do. But you have to show your employer why you’re great and create your own value. That will get you the offers that you want.”


Dera Silvestre, Staff Writer 

Dera Silvestre is a junior in the College of Communication studying mass communication with a minor in Spanish. On campus, she is involved in WTBU Radio and the Student Philanthropy Center. Dera is interested in legal advocacy and activism, and she hopes to earn a degree in law after finishing her undergrad. She is from Rhode Island.

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