Think about tech: Reynolds School alumna reminds journalism grads to look for careers in technology industries
When Reynolds School alumna Lauralyn McCarthy graduated in 1992, her first three jobs out of college (prep cook, salesperson and secretary) didn’t seem to relate to her degree. She continued to search for the career path she wanted.
“Knowing my parents couldn’t support me, I took a job that could pay my bills (barely),” McCarthy said. “I had three post-graduation jobs to tide me over until I landed the entry-level job in the field I wanted to work in.”
Finding her perfect entry-level job took research. Her interest in international work with career growth potential led McCarthy to look at the entertainment industry and more specifically the gaming industry as a possible career field.
“I thought the gaming industry would grow beyond Nevada and New Jersey, and I could grow with it,” she said. “I was right. This is my 25th year in this global entertainment, games and technology business.
McCarthy is the vice president of new markets at Aristocrat Technologies. During her career, she has worked as an entrepreneur starting several businesses and as an advisor to tech companies. She has also served as a board member for several nonprofit organizations.
McCarthy attributes her career opportunities to hard work, enthusiasm, respect for others and a track record of high performance.
“Even when I didn’t think I was qualified for a role, I said yes to opportunities knowing I could learn and find supporters who could help me learn more, make fewer mistakes and ultimately succeed,” McCarthy said. “Saying yes instead of no and never quitting are big differentiators in getting the next opportunity.”
As for journalism students now entering the workforce, she suggested following a path similar to the one she took.
“Do the job you currently have well and professionally even if it isn’t the job you really want. Never speak badly about your employer or diminish your job,” McCarthy said. “You are building a work reputation (brand) that is important to your current job, your next job and the one after that.”
She recently spoke during the Reynolds School of Journalism and College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremony on May 19, 2018, sharing that her success was proof that the spring 2018 graduating class can succeed as well.
“I was curious, so I knew I could learn almost anything if I put my mind to it. I had tenacity and grit, and never giving up turns out to be one of the most important things in life, and I wanted to do good things,” McCarthy said. “Maybe some of you think that way too. I’m proof it’s all going to work out if you do.”
During her speech, McCarthy mentioned skills like literacy, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and social and cultural awareness as necessary to move into Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution – a revolution driven by technology. She reminded graduates that they possessed those skills and should think about jobs in technology upon graduation.
“Your innate curiosity, passion for truth, dedication and broad base of knowledge in humanities provides you the opportunity not only to thrive but to be the reasoned voice of humanity in a tech-driven world,” McCarthy said.
In a further email interview, she elaborated on why journalism and liberal arts graduates are qualified to work in the technology industry even when they do not possess degrees in science, technology, engineering or math.
“Technology isn’t just an industry; it’s a tool for industry, so I’d encourage graduates not to let the word technology put a barrier between [them] and a potential job,” McCarthy said. “Not every job is for a physicist or coder. Graduates with journalism and liberal arts degrees are already interesting to employers because of their critical thinking and communication skills.”
McCarthy also advised graduates that while their journalism or liberal arts degree might give them an advantage with some employers, doing the research about global trends, the industry and the company before entering an interview is still necessary.
“The candidates who didn’t take the time to study my company or my industry didn’t get called back,” she said. “The candidates who knew what my company does, about our products, about trends in the business, showed professionalism and enthusiasm were considered for the position.”
As for what jobs students should look for right after graduation in the technology industry, McCarthy said this decision belongs to the graduate.
“Technology is a broader-based business term than it was 10 years ago,” she said. “It’s about discovering what is interesting to the graduate. That could be in tech, sports, non-profit, public service, media, journalism, the arts, anything.”
View McCarthy’s full commencement speech below.