Alumni discuss networking and mentoring for career advancement

The Ithaca College School of Business, the college chapter of the American Marketing Association (ICAMA), and the Office of Career Services (OCS) welcomed Chris Patton ’04, Creative Operations Manager of Global Business Marketing for TikTok, Nov. 4 at the Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise park to give a talk on networking, building good relationships, and being open to mentoring for career advancement. About 75 people attended the event.

Patton is a successful marketing and project management professional. Her first big experience in the field was an internship while in college with the advertising agency Ogilvy, where she ended up working for three years. Other roles she has held include vice president of pproduction at marketing agency Mr. Youth, Ddirector of pproduction at branded innovation consultancy Redscout, and pproduction and pproject madministrator vsconsultant at Google. She has worked for TikTok in global marketing operations since 2020.

Patton’s networking and relationshipThe building journey started as soon as she applied for colleges. She said because she couldn’t afford college tuition, she took a bus to college and scheduled meetings to convince college officials that she was worth the investment. She eventually received a scholarship and was able to attend college. Patton said making the effort to engage with people also helped her rise through the ranks at Ogilvy.

“I took every opportunity to meet as many people as possible,” Patton said. “So reach out to people and ask them to take them to the cafe. Every time a senior manager came to speak to the intern class, I would send them a thank you note afterwards, just looking for ways to connect with people and all that extra work, because it’s work, paid because I was asked to interview for the Ogilvy Associates Program.”

In addition to networking and relationship building, Patton stressed the importance of being a good listener and responding positively to feedback and constructive criticism. She told the story of a friend of hers who gave a young person feedback on her presentation and instead of integrating, she debated him, even though he was much more experienced.

“As a new employee, and this goes for all of you, and even for me when I started at TikTok after 18 years of experience at that point, when you come into your job, you have to listen and absorb” , Patton said. “It is impossible to learn if you speak.”

Jonathan Chalmers, Career Engagement Specialist for OCS, reiterated Patton’s advice and emphasized how beneficial and rewarding it can be to talk and get to know people.

“Surveys tell us that 85% of jobs filled are never advertised and that networking is the key to accessing this hidden job market,” Chalmers said. “I don’t think I can underestimate the value of building and maintaining relationships. If you start off with the idea that this is a reciprocal relationship – a two-way street – and focus on what you can do for them, not what they can do for you , you will succeed.

Senior Trent Writer, President of ICAMAhighlighted how students looking to learn outside of the classroom and attending events like Patton’s can be very important to their success.

“When students step away from the classroom to stay curious about areas of interest, they gain the independence and experience needed to thrive in an ever-changing and culturally dynamic world,” Writer said. “While hearing a speaker is not the epitome of pedagogy in any given field, it is essential that students step out of the classroom and hear different perspectives on the theories they are learning.”

Senior Abby Bergacs said she was particularly impressed with the story of Patton needing a break from work. Patton said she was not in the right frame of mind and lost some of her drive, and although she strayed from her path, she continued to have a successful career.

“She seems like a very work-driven person,” Bergacs said. “It seems to be a very big part of her life, and she’s very successful, so for her, you just have to step back and say, ‘I wasn’t happy here.; that’s not what I wanted to do”, and she just took a month off and did it and reassessed. I think that’s a good lesson for everyone to learn, because sometimes it’s hard to be self-aware enough to realize you’re in that place.

Bergacs said she was also impressed with Patton’s honesty regarding labor relations. Patton said that even if someone is likeable, there will always be people who don’t like them. Patton said that’s normal and that cultivating a successful career requires being able to deal with people who don’t like you professionally.

“It was very real and raw and it wasn’t like she was coating anything,” Bergacs said. “It makes me think it’s OKAY so you know there are people who don’t like you and that’s not really going to change because it’s not so much a reflection of you as they are.

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