Turner Exec Sells Students on Small Starts

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No matter what the economy looks like, the job market is always a somewhat scary place for students about to graduate and leave the friendly confines of the Friendly College by the Lake.

Tom Winiarski '91 talks with studentsWhen Tom Winiarski '91 visits campus as an Alumnus-in-Residence, he encourages students to think big, but start small.

Before becoming senior vice president and national sales manager of strategy and operations for Turner Entertainment, Winiarski was an administrative assistant offering standard greetings to callers at Katz Communications in New York City.

Winiarski hires his own assistants now, but he strives to mentor them in how to succeed long after they've left his office.

"I know it's a drag," Winiarski said. "You get out and you say to yourself, ‘Now what?'"

A mentor or advocate can help with finding the answer, he said.

Winiarski offers his advocacy to Oswego students whenever possible, encouraging them to take internships at Turner and start their career paths early. One recent graduate, Nora Rudewicz '08, heeded his advice and got her first job as an account service representative at Turner after interning there.

"We've had a lot of people we've hired [for] entry level jobs that we had as interns the previous summer," he said.

Winiarski first visited college classes at Howard University, where he was a guest professor as part of the Time Warner Diversity Outreach Program. For the past few years, he has made an annual trip to Oswego as part of the AIR (Alumni-in-Residence) program.

He said Oswego offered him a broad liberal arts education with an emphasis on writing skills. And while both of those things remain important, Winiarski tells students to use their non-academic qualities to make themselves conspicuous wherever they start out.

"You're putting your stock on the market in a way. You're creating personal equity," during time as an intern or at a first job, Winiarski said. "You can't teach someone to be creative, you can't teach someone to be engaging, so try to show that."

— Shane M. Liebler

From left, Marissa Pytlak '11, Katrina Webber '11, Sara Balaban '11, Bill Walker '11 and Christa Cambs '11 get career advice from Tom Winiarski '91, senior vice president and national sales manager of strategy and operations for Turner Entertainment.

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