Turning connections into career opportunities
Connections made as students later turned into career opportunities for Colleen Callahan ’09 G’10, Tim Johnson ’09 and Will Anderson ’13.
By Erin M. Turner ’15
Networking has proven to be a positive tool for members of the Elon University community. Alumna Colleen Callahan ’09 G’10 discovered that last year when she helped Will Anderson ’13 and Tim Johnson ’09 land freelance positions at her company, ZICO Beverages.
“We were looking to showcase one of ZICO’s athletes, Dean Karnazes,” said Callahan, the company’s social media manager and a 2010 graduate of Elon's interactive media program. “We wanted to make a short video to show how he implements ZICO into his diet and what makes him special.”
Mark Rampolla founded the company in 2004 when he first discovered coconut water as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central America. As an athlete and advocate for healthy living, Rampolla saw the opportunity to distribute coconut water in the United States as a nutritional beverage, and also boost the economies of coconut-producing nations.
As students in the School of Communications, Callahan, Anderson and Johnson knew of each other while at Elon and remained close after graduation, which played a vital role in leading Callahan to bring Johnson and Anderson on board for the project. “We needed a producer at a good rate and although I actually never worked with Tim directly while at Elon, he has been good friends with my friends for quite some time and had an amazing reputation with all of his work being top notch, so I knew he’d be a great fit,” Callahan said.
Johnson and Anderson worked with the company’s marketing and video production team to help rebrand ZICO Beverages as a sports drink and not just as a nutritional beverage. The result was a video highlighting how Karnazes, an ultra marathon runner, implements ZICO Beverages into his diet.
The project presented a great opportunity for Anderson to not only gain professional experience but also to work alongside Johnson, who together with Max Cantor ’09, produced an award-winning video for the Elon’s Office of Admissions in 2011 and more recently an alumni video for the Office of Alumni Engagement.
Johnson said networking is about establishing relationships, which is only accomplished by going beyond an initial connection. “The Elon Mentor Network and the Elon Job Network are great, but they can’t do much for you if you don’t take the initiative to be proactive,” he said.
Callahan said their story is a great example of how important networking is. “It’s a tried and true statement that is all about who you know; it’s how I’ve gotten all my jobs after graduation,” she said. “Networking shouldn't be something you pick up and drop once you have a job—anyone you meet can be a good resource. My best recommendation is to do as much as you can for others. That way when it’s your time to call in a favor, they have no problem doing so.”
Johnson agreed. “Going the extra mile can be the difference between a contact thinking of you when an opportunity comes up and having it pass along to the next person.”
This story is part a series highlighting the power of the Elon network. Don’t miss the opportunity to reconnect with alumni in your area during the 2014 National Networking Event Series. For more information or to register, visit www.elon.edu/alumninetworking.