Christopher Perrello, faculty member in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies and the iSchool, is widely known for his enthusiastic and active role in the classroom. Perrello’s zealous persona carries him to his passion for assisting students with their professional development.
He exerts his passion for others by teaching CRS 325: Presentational Speaking, CRS 426: Persuasion, CRS 435: Interviewing and IST 344: Information Reporting and Presentation, as well as through his role as the director of career services at the iSchool.
“When I started my teaching career at the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, I thought that I would just be teaching a couple of courses a semester and balancing the academics of student athletes,” says Perrello. “However, as I began to become more involved with CRS 435: Interviewing and collaborating with the other departments’ career services, I began to become more interested in resume and cover letter writing. So when the iSchool had a position open, I threw my hat in the ring, and they took a chance on me.”
Within his role as the director of career services, he provides students with the proper resources that are needed for them to pursue a professional career. Whether it is adjusting the format of students’ resumes, encouraging them to take certain classes that will assist them with their professional interests or providing tips on how to network, Perrello constantly strives to extend a helping hand.
“My mantra is ‘care about yourself, worry about yourself,’” he says. “One of the issues that I see when students are writing a cover letter or immersing themselves at a career fair is that they are worried about how others see them. They are not worried about what the recruiter is thinking, but they are worried about what their competition is thinking. It is important to tune out this noise and the voices that say, ‘You are not good enough,’ because you are in fact good enough.”
This helping hand is extended to Perrello’s number-one tip for students who are interested in any professional program: communication. Throughout the interview, Perrello emphasized that being able to deliver a message and form interpersonal relationships with employers is what can help students separate themselves from other applicants. He made it clear that when applying for jobs, every applicant has the same technical skills and is qualified from the perspective of skills. However, not every applicant has interpersonal skills that can allow their employer to see them past a coder.
“We hear all the time from employers: ‘What is the number one skill that professionals need to know before coming into the field?’ It is communication; it is not knowing how to organize a database or how to code,” he says. “While all of these skills are amazing, and obviously I am not minimizing them, if you cannot effectively communicate in a space, then the work is not going to get done. I see the skill of communication to be the catalyst that causes employers to notice you because without it, you will not be able to contribute to the foundation of the company nor cultivate relationships with your team.”
Perrello encourages all students to attend the Virtual Business Communication Fair that is scheduled for October 1. Whether it is virtual or in person, Perrello believes that all students should seize every opportunity that they get so that they can build their network. The link to register for this event can be found here.
“The whole purpose of a career fair is marketing yourself; that is all you have to do,” he explains. “You have to go to this fair knowing that you are valuable, talented and are more than qualified to be hired in any position. Even if you are a first-year student, I want you to attend career fairs so that you are able to become more aware of what is going on and how to navigate the real world. Employers attend these job fairs to hire positions of all levels, and regardless of what year you are, you should attend these and cultivate relationships with these employers.”
While COVID-19 did cause many fields to transition in a different path—specifically the job hiring field—Perrello reiterates the importance of communication and being able to form interpersonal relationships with the people around you. Whether it is interacting with them on digital platforms like Linkedin or Instagram or meeting them (socially distanced), Perrello advises students to not get stuck in the world of virtual reality.
“While the world of Zoom is real, use platforms like Linkedin, Instagram and TikTok to interact with emerging professionals and network with them,” he says. “These platforms have brought so many people together by letting people post photos and videos during their professional development journey. From the perspective of professional development, these digital platforms have done a fabulous job at giving students a platform to network with professionals by keeping everyone connected.”
–This article was written by the CRS student news team. Contact the team at .