By: Janna Fitzgerald, Editor in Chief
Amanda Recupido, IWU alumna and author of new children’s book Anthony Rizzo is a Good Italian Boy, spoke to a classroom with 25 students and professors last Wednesday, March 21 about careers in writing and public relations.
The book, which Recupido co-wrote with her husband fellow author Matt Lynch, is about Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo.
Though the idea of Rizzo being a “good Italian boy” started as a joke between the two and on Recupido’s Twitter account, but eventually it turned into writing a book outside of their day jobs. “Rizzo seems like such a good guy,” Recupido said. “He probably calls his mom every Sunday.”
Recupido currently works a public relations job in Chicago, and has worked for publications like New York’s 92nd Street Y, Chicago’s Goodman Theater and Time Out Chicago Magazine.
Recupido told listeners about her winding and unconventional career path through public relations, publishing and sales. She said one’s early career is the perfect time to experiment, “build, build, build,” randomly move to New York or completely switch paths.
She emphasized that although recent graduates will be on the bottom of the corporate ladder, they do have valuable, marketable skills like social media knowledge. Skills like these are at times just as important as experience.
“The most important tool right out of college is networking,” Recupido said.
“It’s not about using people to get jobs, but it is about making genuine friends.”
Friends today might be powerful professionals tomorrow, and it is important for young professionals to hold onto connections and particularly not burn bridges.
“Almost every job I got after my first one was through a connection,” Recupido said.
Another bit of advice that she included was that sometimes doing things for free can be a useful tool to learn new things. A man that ended up being Recupido’s first editor initially became a contact when she volunteered to attend book events for him and write them up.
“I did not get paid, but I got dinner,” Recupido said. “I got drinks. I’m going to all these awesome parties. It was just really cool to be in those rooms.”
The experience earned Recupido her first byline and taught her to turn things around on a deadline, experiences that were invaluable to her future career.
Recupido also emphasized that it is okay to have a side hustle. “Especially early in your career, it’s okay to have a boring job and be fulfilled in some other way. But you still need a day job.”
Even 11 years into her career, Recupido still found time for her passion when she wrote Anthony Rizzo is a Good Italian Boy.
She told seniors that one way to set their resume apart in a really competitive field is to “emphasize anything where you can see numerical growth or statistics, for example, managing a budget and keeping under budget by this percent.” When you meet people at event, reach out afterwards and make it personal. That’s how you stand out. Also internships are crucial, not just for the experience but for the networking opportunities. Even when you graduate, you don’t have to really leave mentally.
“You should view every city as an extended campus, because that makes it relatable and makes the people in it your equals.”