IrishCompass Recruiter Profile: Claire Elise Stephens '13

Claire Elise Stephens ’13 graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in film, television, and theatre and a minor in journalism, ethics, and democracy. She recently began her current role as Social Media Producer for Macy’s and has previously worked as a producer and recruiter for Guinness World Records and Ora TV/Stick Figure Studios. 
 
What is the value of hiring fellow ND alumni?
Hiring fellow alumni helps strengthen the ND professional network no matter where you're based and provides alumni with a source of talent we know will be bright, motivated, willing to go the extra mile, and who has a built-in rapport because of your shared experiences. I am always excited to help fellow alumni any way I can as my way of giving back to a community that helped and supported me when I was new, and ND hires have always reflected well on me, too.
 
What are some of the distinguishing factors of ND alums?
I quickly learned that elements of job hunting I assumed everyone did by default — proactively reaching out, following up, asking questions, expressing interest, or even paying attention to the person talking to you — were surprisingly missing in a lot of candidates we spoke to. What ND alums likely think of as the baseline effort is going above and beyond what many others are doing, and ND alums are willing to go the extra mile and put in the work since they're used to the high academic standards to get into and graduate from Notre Dame. ND alums, no matter what their field of study, have been taught different ways of thinking, how to consider and approach problems, and to work hard — all very valuable skills in learning any new role.
 
How does this help your company?
It's great to have a built-in network and pool of talent to pull from when hiring for a role, especially when it helps to give a distinguishing factor a current employee can vouch for in a large sea of unknown applicants. Alumni want to help other alumni and students and want to see them succeed, so having a new hire you've vouched for, can mentor, and work with helps both the individuals and the team rise together. Additionally, ND alums don't take for granted the help they’re offered from fellow alumni and do their best to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them to reflect positively on their fellow ND alumni.
 
How was your experience posting job opportunities?
I found it extremely easy to use IrishCompass to post jobs. I simply imported a job from Indeed that my company had already posted: all I had to do was add a personal note. We had some applicants from IrishCompass apply and had individuals reach out to me directly asking me more about the roles.
 
In your view, what does it take to be successful in this industry?
No matter what variation of media you're in — whether it's film, TV, social media, digital, branded, agency, commercial — you need hustle. Your studies will have armed you with the knowledge that will help you put your best foot forward, but at a certain point it comes down to your ability to find work and get it. Hustle can take many forms too: doing research, cold emailing alumni or potential employers, joining career groups online, taking online learning courses, applying to a large volume of jobs, or attending events where you can meet people to network with. No matter what field or what variation of those skills you choose, in the beginning, you have to be willing to hustle to break into it and sustain that energy to rise, and there's no one right way to do it. At a certain point, an element of luck may come into play, too, but you have to keep rolling the dice for more chances to get lucky, and your work will speak for itself once you get there.
 
Do you have any career advice (especially for young alumni who are entering a pandemic economy)?
Instead of thinking of networking as a daunting, formal event about exchanging business cards and elevator pitches, think of networking as making friends and keeping them. I’ve found it’s much more organic to keep in touch with and catch up with a friend, not thinking about what you need or can offer them professionally, to make lasting connections and learn from each other. Several of the jobs I've gotten when I was laid off have been through good friends of mine from campus who could simply vouch for my ability to do the work and knew about an open position.
 
Also, don’t hesitate to use both IrishCompass and the Alumni Directory to reach out to your local alumni club or to alumni directly. As secretary of the Notre Dame Club of New York, we’re always excited to welcome recent grads and current students to our events and help connect them with alumni who may be able to give them suggestions and advice. Before IrishCompass, I cold-emailed dozens of alumni in NYC and was surprised at how willing complete strangers were to meet up with me. Notre Dame alumni want to help other alumni and it’s a powerful and valuable network at your disposal.
 
Lastly, don't give up on the job search, and be open-minded and curious about what’s out there. Early in my career I did unpaid work sleeping on a friend’s couch for months and was unemployed for four months during COVID, so I get it: keep going, keep trying, and I promise there's a light at the end of the tunnel for you somewhere.

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