The Big Picture


See that picture? It’s a still from a personal video that I filmed for an assignment. I was challenged to find a spot on campus that I wanted to capture and that had great composition. This mobile sculpture is found between Shineman and Park Hall.

Why did I start this post with this video? It encapsulates more about Oswego than you would think. Even in the smallest or seemingly quieter parts of campus you can find beauty. Anywhere you look has potential to be a feature in your next project or a place to relax and contemplate. It shows the attention to detail while also promoting student artists. The arts community in Oswego is standout, with innovative theatre, music, and more constantly being produced and showcased. You don’t have to look hard to find artistic opportunities.

This video also demonstrates that fact that I was immediately hands-on in my first year. As a current sophomore broadcasting and mass communication major, I had the ability to dive straight into my major, which was critical for me. I’m an avid participant in the campus station, WTOP, which has proved to be one of the smartest things I have done. I met my best friends and learned so much about equipment and other elements required to run a television station.

It also shows that there is a method to the madness, so to speak. Your professors will assign work, work with you, and try to make you the best you can be. So much is involved when creating your favorite movie or TV show, and the professors want to make sure you understand every element in order to be successful in the future. Trust me, if you put in the effort, you will know far more than when you first start a class.

There is more opportunity in Oswego than people often realize. Beautifully backdropped by Lake Ontario, students have the tools to develop rich relationships and make connections in order to be successful at the next level. The college experience is what you make it, and I’m happy to be creating mine at Oswego.

Final Thoughts on SUNY Oswego

Final Thoughts

As I near the end of my college career and graduation, I have a lot of things on my mind, and advice to share. Here are some of the things and lessons I’ve learned my last three and a half years at Oswego.

On Freshman Year

Fresh out of high school, college seems like the coolest thing ever. And it is. But with all of the freedom, comes immense responsibility. In high school, my mom would often ask me if I finished my homework, and my house was usually a quiet environment where I was able to study. There is nobody in college to encourage you or remind you to do your work and study.  There’s always something to do in college; whether it be a program in your dorm, a party, or hanging with your friends down the hall. While this is a great thing, it also means that there is always something distracting you from your studies. There were many nights during my freshman year where I stayed up until three a.m. hanging out with friends, and avoiding homework.

Setting up a study schedule and sticking to it is crucial. Want to go out on Friday night? Force yourself to spend a few hours in the library getting your work done for the week. Take advantage of the study carrel rentals in the library; they provide a secluded and quiet area to study. Also, GO TO CLASS. I repeat, go to class. Again, there is nobody to tell you to go, it’s up to you to do it. When you think about it, you are paying to go to colleges to go to classes, not to sit in your room. Sure, it can be tempting to skip class when it’s snowing so hard you can’t see out your window, but missing class causes a snowball effect (no pun intended). You’ll be missing notes, assignment information, and more. Falling behind, especially early on, will continue to haunt you as deadlines approach and quickly pass you by. You must be extremely self-motivated and responsible in your freshman year, because mathematically, these grades are the most important to your GPA.

On Textbooks

Don’t avoid buying your textbooks. I’ve rented most of my textbooks online through and, and it saves a ton of money, especially on books for my non-major classes that I know I won’t need in my professional career. If possible, make sure you have your books by the second of third class meeting day, because teachers usually assign reading at the very beginning of the semester, and you’ll end up far behind.

On Clubs

Get involved in clubs early on, so that you can continue to expand on your involvement throughout your time at Oswego, and run for executive board positions. These positions will not only look great on a resume, but allow you to advance your leadership and team work skills. I’ve been in PRSSA for a few years now, and have made a lot of amazing friends who I know will be great contacts in the PR world in the years to come.

On Internships

Passionate about a certain field? Not sure what you want to major in, but you’re interested in something and want to give it a try? Then an internship is right for you.  As a Public Relations major, I’ve had many internships working with social media, non-profits, agencies  and media firms, and I have been able to really hone in on what I’m not only good at, but am passionate about. Internships allow you to try on your field of choice, and see if you will enjoy doing it as a career. They give you the opportunity to figure out what you don’t like, which is also very important. You may think that you want to, for example, be an accountant, but after crunching numbers all day, you learn that it’s not right for you. This is completely fine, and as they say, college is the time to figure out who you are, and what you’re passionate about.

Internships are resume builders, and allow you to expand your network while gaining real life experience. SUNY Oswego allows students to get academic credit for internships too, which you should definitely take advantage of.

On Relationships with Professors

One of the great things about SUNY Oswego is the class sizes. Most of my classes averaged around 30 students or less, which really allows for the ability for the professors to get to know you by your name and face. Raise your hand in classes and establish a relationship with your professors. Attend their office hours if you need help or have questions, or if you want to talk about professional topics. I’ve become very close with a lot of my PR professors and have benefited from their mentorship over the years. Especially during my senior year, my professors have been a huge source of advice and someone to vent to. By cultivating relationships with your professors, you will have people to ask for references when it comes to job hunting and grad school applications.

On Finding a Job

After my internship this past summer, I set out to expand my network on LinkedIn and meet people at different types and sizes of Public Relations agenices in New York City. Starting in September, I began researching different agencies, and finding employees who work there on LinkedIn. For those who don’t know, this is really simple (even though it might seem like stalking…) to do on LinkedIn. Simply type in the name of a company in the search bar, and it will say “people who work at X company” – click this, and begin searching through the results. After this process, I began sending short messages (make sure they’re professional!) to employees at the companies asking for a few minutes of their time to do an informational interview, as I was very interested in their work at X company. You’d be surprised how many people responded. People love talking about what they do, and were happy to speak with m. Take your time to research the companies, and be well prepared with questions on the company, and the person’s work. Try to figure out what they specifically work on. After hearing about what they do, many people asked me what I am interested in and my experiences. When it got to be closer to graduation, I sent my resume to my connections asking if their company had any openings. All of the job interviews I did were a direct result of my informational interviews. Responding to job postings on Indeed or Monster is often unsuccessful, due to the sheer amount of applications companies receive. I’ve personally had more success trying to establish direct contacts within companies and their HR departments.

On Graduating Early

Due to taking Spanish courses in high school and receiving internship credits, I have enough credits to graduate a semester early. While at times it seems that my college career is being cut short, it’s an accomplishment that I am very proud of. To me, it seems that the job market is better for December graduates, as there is a much smaller amount of recent grads job seeking. Graduating early is something you must be committed to, and is not for everyone. It’s a choice that you must be sure of, or you will end up with regrets.

On Studying Abroad

I had always wanted to be able to experience a different country, but didn’t want to be away from my friends and boyfriend at Oswego for an entire semester. Up until my end of junior year, I had no idea that Oswego offers quarter classes that provide an opportunity to study abroad for a week during either Spring Break, or during Winter Break. I participated in the GLS 100 course Spring 2015, and learned about London for the first eight weeks or so of the semester, and travelled there during Spring Break. The trip was very inexpensive; thanks to grants the school had received. Getting to travel abroad and experience an entirely new way of life for a week was an absolutely incredible experience. After learning about the history of London and the famous landmarks, it was awesome to be able to see these places firsthand. I really believe that studying abroad, even for just a week, gives one an entirely new perspective on life. I have never experienced being a “foreigner” before, and it was really interesting to get stared at when I spoke, because I was clearly not from there. Exploring a foreign city and experiencing all it has to offer is amazing, and really gives you a new frame of mind. Sometimes I feel that we get too consumed in our everyday lives in our school, town or city and don’t actually realize how large the world really is. I would definitely recommend the GLS quarter classes to anyone with the desire to travel.


Random Thoughts

  • Have an open mind about anything and everything.
  • Take new experiences as they come and don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Appreciate your friends and family, and remember to stay connected to those back home.
  • Don’t think that college will last forever. It doesn’t, and you’ll always miss it.
  • Be yourself, and stand up for your beliefs. Don’t worry about other’s opinions of you. Be yourself.
  • Don’t try to do laundry on Sunday nights.
  • Don’t be passive aggressive with your roommate(s). Open communication is key and crucial.
  • Invest in a large winter coat, and snow boots with intense treads.
  • Don’t ever try to use an umbrella. Think Mary Poppins.
  • Go to hockey games, even if you aren’t into sports. They’re a great way to get some school spirit.
  • Go to Mackin and have the mac and cheese and chicken tenders.
  • Watch every sunset you can, and take lots of photos. You’ll miss the sunsets come November when you hardly see the sun anymore.
  • Take advantage of the resources Oswego has, whether it is the Center for Experiential Learning, tutors on campus, or Disability Services.
  • Go to the library to study. You’ll get a lot more done, I promise.
  • Enjoy every last minute of it, because it truly does fly by.

My Hollywood POV Experience

It’s rare in life to come across a moment where you experience the overwhelming feeling of knowing you were meant to be somewhere. Whether it’s walking on your college campus the first time, or falling in love with a summer job, these moments can happen at anytime and often can take you by surprise.

I recently just came back from Los Angeles California as part of the Hollywood POV Program put on by SUNY Oswego. It’s a competitive program where only 12 students were chosen from the entire undergraduate and graduate program to be flown out to L.A for 12 days. Each day was jam-packed with meetings with producers, directors, creators, production crew, showrunners, and corporate at various studios such as Warner Bros., Disney, Nickelodeon, Authentic Entertainment, Original Productions, BBC Productions, L.A Studios, The Academy and so much more.

Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Each new day allowed us to be immersed in a new aspect of the entertainment industry and get hands on experience. It was basically like a 12-day job interview that allowed you to brush elbows with some of the industry’s best and showcase your talent. I left L.A not only confident in the career connections I made but also left with new friends that would be more than willing to let me bum it on their couches for a couple days if need be.

I got to experience life in a way that I have only dreamed about. Yes it was absolutely exhausting work, but each day I woke up excited about the things we would get to do and the people we would meet. I got to live out every child’s day-home-from-school-sick dream and have VIP access to the taping of “The Price Is Right,” I got to listen to the adventures unscripted producers and camera operators have gone on across the world, I got to watch the comedic geniuses of Allison Janney and Anna Farris at work on the set of Chuck Lorre’s “Mom” and hang out with the cast and crew after the show, I got to sit down in front of a development team and pitch my own television show and get professional feedback. All of these experiences only reinforced my dream of working in this industry.

On the set of FRIENDS at Warner Bros. Studios

Going into my senior year I was confused and scared about all the uncertainty surrounding my life. But when I was walking the streets in L.A., I was overcome with the feeling that this is where I need to be. The reality of being back out in L.A within the next year and half is terrifying, especially for this east coast, upstate New Yorker. However if I learned anything on this trip is that you need to take risks in life. You need to have the confidence within yourself and your abilities to go after your dreams. In L.A. I was told, “In life you should never waste a second doing what you don’t love.” I intend on following that.

VIP Access to the taping of “The Price is Right”

Long Overdue Update

It has been so long since I have posted a blog entry here. As an undergrad, I posted updates pretty regularly, but as a grad student, I almost never do, and I regret that. I figured that I would take some time to post a new one. Hopefully, at least some readers have read my blog entries in the past. This is my final semester here at SUNY Oswego, ever. A masters degree is the highest degree that one can obtain here, and even if SUNY Oswego did offer doctorate programs, I have to start earning a considerable amount of money before I can continue to spend a considerable amount more, and I am not sure yet whether or not a doctorate program is even something that I want to pursue. I am having bittersweet feelings about leaving next month – happy because I will have a masters degree (which is a major accomplishment) and won’t be continuing to build up on debt but sad to leave Oswego. Over the six years that I have been here (I started as a freshman in 2008), I have, like anyone, experienced ups and downs, but I love the environment of the campus (especially when it’s not winter) and have had some really great professors whom I will truly miss. I will also miss my job (I am a desk attendant in Sheldon Hall) because it has enhanced skills such as organization skills and teamwork skills.

This semester has been very busy because since it is my final semester here as a graduate student, so I am writing my masters essay. The course on my transcript is titled Reading for Examinations, and it involves writing a very long thesis paper (mine is currently close to sixty pages) and then submitting it for assessment by a small group of three readers. Fortunately, my essay is almost finished. As I stated, it is nearing sixty pages, and not only is that about how long that it needs to be, I also feel like I am naturally winding down, anyway. It is something of which I am very proud. It is an expansion upon the final paper that I wrote for a film class (Women and Screen Studies) during the Spring 2013 semester, and my professor (Amy Shore) liked it so much that she suggested that I expand upon it for my masters essay. Because I, too, liked it so much, I followed up on her advice and have done that. I am so excited to get it officially finished and off to the readers for a final glance. As I said, researching for it and writing it has taken up a great deal of my time this semester, and it will be such a relief to be finished with it.

Graduating, as I said, though, is bittersweet, and the bitterness doesn’t just come from not wanting to leave Oswego. I have been applying to jobs since December or so, and nothing is puling through. I graduate next month and still do not have a job lined up. I know that in today’s day and age with it being so difficult to find a job, that is normal, but it’s so scary. I can’t live with my parents indefinitely, and I need to start making money pretty immediately to start paying off my loans. The most recent job to which I applied has a dual possibility (although one is a lot more likely than the other). I applied to the New Britain, Connecticut school district because there are openings for substitute-teachers (with which I have plenty of experience), and there is also an opening for a permanent position as a middle school English teacher, and I applied to both. I have not heard back from that yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. The state of Connecticut is at a serious shortage of substitute-teachers to the point at which students’ learning experiences are being negatively impacted, so my shot at getting a position as a substitute-teacher somewhere in Connecticut is pretty decent. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life subbing, but it would get my foot in the door, would get me more experience, and would increase my chances of being hired for a permanent position. My hope is that in a few months, I will be able to post a blog entry here with some really good news!

Although this is completely unrelated, I have recently developed a really strong interest in Wicca. For years, I have considered myself a deeply spiritual person but did not know what that meant for me. I have known for quite some time that unlike my father, I am not a Christian (despite my name, which means that I carry or bear Christ). I recently discovered that what aligns best with my own personal beliefs and whatnot is Wicca, and I have pursued that. I feel very passionate and excited because I have been buying books on Wicca and have been having a great deal of fun reading up on it. The more reading that I do, the more excited that I get; the closer to it that I feel. I just wish that this interest would have fully manifested itself earlier than it did because as fate would have it (another reason why I feel like I was mean to pursue this), I found out that there is an organization here on campus related to Wicca very shortly after deciding to pursue Wicca myself. The name of the club is Oswego State Pagan Association, so it’s broader than just being a Wiccan organization, but it’s partly what it embodies. I have not yet been to a meeting, but they meet on Thursdays, and I am going to my first meeting this coming Thursday (tomorrow) to check it out. I am really looking forward to it!

I will conclude this blog entry with some news (old news, which I suppose is an oxymoron) that I don’t believe that I have ever shared here before. If I have, then forgive me because I don’t mean to be repetitive. Some of you might remember how several years ago, I posted a blog entry about the many problems that I had with our organization, Pride Alliance. The group, for example, was far too focused on sex and not focused enough on larger societal issues, and I eventually decided to stop going because of how tiring that that became. As a graduate student, however, I gave them another chance since it was under new leadership, and I noticed a major change. The organization is now what it should always be, and I wrote a follow-up blog entry explaining how, in my eyes, Pride Alliance had reformed. I ended up (last spring) winning an award for that. It was to commemorate my faith in the organization, my willingness to give it another chance, and I was so honored and so happy. I have attached a photo of the award here for you to see. There you have it, bloggers – I actually won an award for writing a blog here, so don’t stop blogging! You really never know what will happen as a result of pursuing a passion.


Time Management-How to Successfully Get Your Work Done on Time

Sometimes, your classes can get the best of you.


Have you ever put off a huge project until the last day before it’s due? Ever let your homework pile up over the course of the week? These two things can work together to make you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and buried in work. Contrary to popular belief, a pot of coffee and an all nighter are not the solution to this problem. This bolg post is aimed at time management, seeking help in topics you may be struggling in, and how to survive the semester without stressing over being behind in classes.


When it comes to time management, there are many courses of action you can take to help keep organized and work in a productive, timely manner. Here are a few methods you can use to help manage your time:

  • Make a schedule for yourself!-When a professor assigns a project that is due in a month, it may be a good idea to utilize all of the time that you have been given to complete the assignment. This usually means that you’re expected to put a lot of work into the assignment. In order to keep on track, make a schedule for yourself. Use a loose leaf piece of paper, calender, etc. to remind yourself what part of the project you should be working on at a given time.
  • Buy yourself a white board!– This is a must have for any college student. A great idea is to keep the white board on the wall next to your bed so you can see whatever reminders you’ve written yourself as soon as you wake up. That way you won’t forget about an assignment that is due. Plan your week out on the board–it will be extremely helpful!
  • Have a smartphone? Use it!-There are some great features in most smartphones that can work wonders when it comes to managing time. Most phones have a notepad, which can be used to write notes to yourself regarding a project or homework assignment. Another great feature is the alarm. Set alarms for yourself to remind you that you should be doing your work. That way you won’t get distracted by whatever you may be doing and lose track of time.
  • Buy a planner!-Planners are a great invention–especially for a college student. Use them to keep track of all of your assignments and their due dates. This way, you can get things done before they start to pile up.
  • Others- Other great ways to stay on track include leaving sticky notes for yourself, or having a trustworthy friend remind you to stay on track.
Sometimes for a student, procrastination occurs because they do not understand the material in class. If this is the case, and you are struggling in a class, here are a few methods to help you bring up your grade and do better on exams, homework, or papers:
  • Office Hours-Most professors on campus have open office hours–which is a specified time on a given day where they are open to students who may wish to come in and seek help on a project, paper, homework assignment, or seek additional instruction in a specific area. Usually office hours are posted in a courses syllabus. If not, consult your professor to see when they are available. This is a great way to establish a good relationship with your professor as well as receive one on one help with whatever you may be struggling with. Professors are always happy to help!
  • Tutoring Services-  SUNY Oswego’s Office of Learning Services provides numerous resources t students who wish to seek extra help with their classes. A great service provided is their tutoring service. If you visit the OLS office (Located in room 171 in the Campus Center), you can request a tutor to help you. Tutors are available for most lower level courses, as well as upper level courses. These tutors are usually undergraduate students, graduate students, or professors who make themselves available to help you.
  • Need someone to proofread your paper? Go to the WRITING CENTER!-Located on the third floor of the Penfield Library, the Writing Center is a great service offered to those who wish to seek help with a writing assignment. If you wish to have somebody read over your paper and help you improve your writing skills. To make an appointment with a writing tutor, go to this web address and follow the instructions.
  • When studying, DON’T CRAM!-Spreading out study sessions over a period of time before your exam will help you to retain the information better. Study one portion of the material at a time. Cramming is stressful and ultimately is not a good way to study. Taking breaks between study sessions is healthy and gives the information time to sink in.
  • Study with a group of friends- Sometimes, working in a group is much better than working alone. If you have a big exam to study for, study with a group and take turns testing each other on the material.
  • Go to the library!-If you feel as if you may be studying in a distracting environment, go to the library to do your work. There are plenty of places in the library that promote productivity and help you to focus on your work and your work alone. For me, just being at the library makes me study harder and focus more.


Wait, what month is it?

When I started Graduate School in late August of 2012 graduation seemed distant. Now, in the midst of my second semester, it seems to be coming up quicker than I thought. Though most people will explain Graduate School programs in years, 1-3, in the grand scheme of things Graduate School is only 4 semesters. When you break that down, it’s easy to lose track of time when you think of how the semesters themselves get fragmented with school work deadlines and, before you know it, it’s the end of the semester. 5 months flew by and you can barely remember what you did. This made me think about what was important to me, what I needed for professional development, and what I just needed to do to survive.

It was a hard decision to stop doing certain things that I had become accustomed to doing here at SUNY Oswego for the last few years (I received my Bachelor’s Degree from here, too.) I realized that in order to stay sane it was important that I did things that I wanted to do for me and stop thinking about the big picture 24 hours a day. Professional development is important and taking time out to do that is something everyone should do. However, sacrificing happiness now for future happiness wasn’t how I wanted to live my life. So I changed it. I left some things behind, adopted a new attitude, concentrated on a few things instead of a handful, and opened my self, and my schedule, to new experiences. One of the most important things that I’ve picked up along the way is that personal development, learning more about who you are, will help you in the long run when developing yourself professionally. With a more relaxed schedule no longer filled with the stresses of simply too much to do, my spring semester has slowed down in comparison to the fall of 2012. I take my school work one day at a time and leave enough time for me to relax, go nuts, enjoy food, favorite sporting events, and well- anything else I want.

The semester ends when?!

Like most students on campus, I’ve been as busy as ever juggling  jobs and classes, relationships and hobbies, and most of all… me time. This also means that I neglected updating all of you with how my semester was going. So, here it goes. It’s been a long one. It’s interesting to see how far I can push myself and it’s really rewarding when the grades that come back reflect the work that’s been put in. Graduate school is no joke, but at the same time I feel that this is where I’m supposed to be and that I was prepared for the work. Civic Engagement is going well, we were super busy until the election and now we’re planning for next semester, which is just as time consuming. The Women’s Club Hockey team is off to a decent start, not where we usually are at this point but we picked up our play as of late. Coaching teaches me a lot about leadership roles, professionalism, the game of hockey, and myself. Right now we’re 5-3-0 with a few games left this semester to improve that quite a bit. It’s something that I love to do, though it’s really time consuming. On a lighter note, being a graduate student means no finals! it also means that there are only 8 days left in my semester. Definitely thankful for that. Well, hope all of you are doing well. I’ll try to get on this more often to keep it updated.

The beginning of a new semester

Well, here we are. The start of a new academic year. For me, it just seems as if something else has simply begun on top of what I normally do. But, for ambitious individuals who aspire to one day be employed full time making good pay, it’s what needs to be done to meet that goal.

I knew it wouldn’t get much easier after graduating from undergrad last May and now that Graduate school is in full swing with two jobs, 3 extracurricular activities, bills, and the desire to have some kind of social life, I don’t expect to have a second for myself until after finals.

So far, I’ve been busy working with Civic Engagement, shameless self promotion here (check out my Rock the Vote Blog here to get the word out about the election, how to vote, where to vote, and everything else that it encompasses. It’s been a great experience and I know that it will help me in the long run.

Graduate classes already seem to be a huge step up from Undergrad. It’s the natural progression, everything I expected it to be. More work, more reading, more attention to detail, and did I mention more work?

It’s a different style of history being in a classroom versus in a museum;the feel for history isn’t the same. In a classroom  it becomes a more intellectually dense experience listening, digesting and analyzing, and in a museum the information comes at you using different senses, you’re inside of the history.

I like being back in academia. It’s a much different pace than the private sector or even the government side of the economy. There’s a certain sense collaboration, even if there hasn’t been a meeting to designate who’s doing what. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of different professionals on campus and everyone has advice and is willing to lend a helping hand in the events or activities we have planned, or are trying to plan.

It’ll be a fun semester and I’ll keep this as well as my Rock the Vote blog updated regularly.

Another great opportunity

This is my first entry as a SUNY Oswego blogger and I am happy to be a part of a great tool in communicating ideas, events, and anything else that we have on our minds. I’ll start my journey as a blogger on this site with a little introduction;

I’m Jon Zella, I’m a Graduate student studying History: Museum Preservation here at SUNY Oswego. I recently graduated from SUNY Oswego with my Bachelor’s Degree in History and a minor in Italian, Buon Giorno. I am also the graduate assistant for Civic Engagement, I work as an interpreter at Fort Ontario State Historic Site, I’m the Head Coach for the Women’s Club Hockey team, Director of Athletic Affairs in Student Association, I write for a hockey blog called the Checking Line mostly about the Buffalo Sabres,  I play the drums in the Avondales and Burning Bridge Street, and now I write for this blog.

Though the above paragraph makes me seem like someone who might be high-strung, I’m generally a pretty calm person. Keeping busy allows me to stay focused and everything gets done, even if it’s at 2am. I enjoy being social, speaking to others; the exchange of ideas and culture is something I’ve always enjoyed.

I also run the Civic Engagement Word Press which will cover a lot of what I’ll be up to this academic year. I will do my best to blog on this as well and keep those interested in the loop with what I’m doing and how my year is going.