Communication Studies student Alanna McCatty ’17 is funding her entire Pace education through merit and outside scholarships and shares her tips for landing scholarships, internships, and other opportunities at Pace.
Alanna McCatty ’17 is accomplishing something that most college students strive to do. She’s funding her entire education at Pace University through merit and outside scholarships, including what she calls a “life changing” scholarship from New York Women in Communications (NYWIC). The secret to her success? McCatty credits almost all of her opportunities to one major skill—networking.
McCatty, a first generation college student from Woodbridge, Virginia, chose Pace for its location, strong communications program, campus environment, and student organizations that she’s actively involved in, including the Women’s Empowerment Network and Lambda Sigma Honor Society.
Once accepted to the University, the scholarship applications began and never stopped. “Whatever scholarship I see that I’m eligible for, I apply for it,” she says. McCatty can recall applying for as many as 20 scholarships in just a few days’ time. “Of course I’ve been rejected from many,” she says, “but the ones that do say ‘Yes’ to me, those are the ones that are important.”
While cranking out as many applications as possible is a strategy for some, including for McCatty herself, she says that what students can do to make their applications stand out is to show their personalities, be honest, and—most importantly—continue to network and stay in touch with scholarship committees even after their applications are either denied or accepted. “It’s all about showing how much you appreciate them and how much you appreciate them investing in your future,” she says.
Although McCatty has won her fair share of scholarships, she says there’s one in particular that has gone above and beyond the basic financial support that most scholarships provide. She’s currently the recipient of a 2014 New York Women in Communications Interpublic Group Scholarship that provides her a generous scholarship and an internship at global advertising holding company Interpublic Group, which she’ll start in June 2015. But most importantly, the scholarship provides her access to mentorship and career guidance from influential women through networking events.
For example, McCatty attended the first event that NYWIC held after winning her scholarship and was offered an internship position while speaking to and networking with one of NYWIC’s board members. She now interns at MedShadow Foundation, where she researches articles about prescription drugs, writes teasers, and tracks Google Analytics for the organization.
“It truly is a life changing organization because you meet so many different people, you build so many relationships, and you do so many great things with the tools and resources they provide you with,” says McCatty, who’s had the chance to meet Queen Latifah and Vice President, Global Accounts and Agencies at Google Eileen Naughton since receiving her scholarship.
While McCatty is grateful for the many opportunities that her scholarships and networking skills have provided her during her time at Pace so far, she maintains a work-life balance by taking on opportunities that she can put 100 percent of her effort into, and advises other students seeking a similar career path to do the same. “Make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin. Choose your obligations wisely,” she says.
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