Q&A with Jamie Sztoser
Alumnus Jamie (Klein) Sztoser will be joining us at the MFMS to prepare you for all things networking, resume building, and job hunting! Alongside her sister and father, Sztoser has built the strongest boutique fashion/media division in the NYC staffing industry. Choice Associates is a family-owned recruiting agency that specializes in all things from design & graphic design, to marketing and social media, to retail & wholesale sales. If you’re fresh out of college and looking for your career path, Choice Associates is the place to help you find it. Before we dive into our Q&A session, let’s tell you more about one of our most impressive partners, our very own Jamie Sztoser.
Sztoser graduated Michigan in 2003 with a bachelor in Communications Studies. Soon after, she landed a post-grad internship in beauty public relations at Marina Maher Communications (MMC). After about 4 years of working in PR, she started to grow increasingly interested and passionate about human resources. She was fortunate enough to transition into the HR department at MMC, before moving on to Turner Broadcasting. At Turner, Sztoser was responsible for college recruiting as well as working with different teams to determine their best staffing solutions. This experience with counseling, organizing, and connecting was essential in leading her to where she is now. When her sister, Marissa Klein, began a fashion & media division at their father’s staffing agency, Sztoser always had an inclination she would one day join them…. However before the time came, she spent a few years following another dream of teaching dance to kids. She said that the trial and error process of figuring out what she did and didn’t want to do was essential to getting her to where she is now. Currently, Sztoser is the Vice President of Fashion and Media at Choice Associates, where she specializes in new graduates who are looking to work in a creative space.
Q: How did your experience at Michigan lead you to Choice Associates?
A: Coming from a small town in New Jersey, Michigan opened a huge door. Every connection stemmed from Michigan itself, the education, and the alumni network. I wouldn’t be as entrepreneurial if I hadn’t come to Michigan. It taught me who I am as a person. Choice Associates is who I am, it’s my family. I didn’t always know I would end up there, but in the end it was all timing that brought me back to my roots. Everything does happen for a reason. Leaving Michigan led me to PR, which eventually led me to HR, and now recruiting and career coaching.
Q: I read in your bio that you transitioned from Public Relations to Human Resources. What are the key differences and connections between the two?
A: The two are very similar. In both fields, you learn how to network. PR is getting a product in front of the intended audience. HR and recruiting is the same thing, but the product is the person; the audience is the client, and the end result is the job and a person’s livelihood. They require the same skill sets, but with different results. For me personally, HR is more rewarding and fulfilling. I think I was always meant to do HR but didn’t know it. I was always the camp counselor, the planner, the cheerleader- the one connecting the dots. Like me, most people just trip into HR without really even knowing it. One of my goals is to bring light to college students that HR is an option for a career path, and that what they went to school for is applicable to this industry.
Q: How does job placement in the world of fashion differ from other fields of interest?
A: Fashion is as needed, and you can’t always plan ahead. People in fashion will not look at your resume unless you live in New York and can start the next day. One challenge and piece of advice I would give is patience. If you don’t have a job in the beginning, don’t worry. You will get it eventually, but only if you are ready and available. There needs to be a job opening- somebody resigned, somebody got promoted, or they added head count if they’re growing. In fashion, it’s plugging people into holes. If there are no holes, there is no person. There can be a job yesterday, or tomorrow, but not today. As Wolverines, this is hard for us to wrap our heads around. We think we are the best (and we are) but it is all about timing!
Q: What advice can you give students interested in the field?
A: Be open-minded. If you are interested in the creative field in this day in age, you need to be open-minded to something that isn’t your “dream job”. It’s about getting experience in a lot of different ways- freelance, temporary positions, post-grad internships, anything that can get you in the door. My advise would be to get post-grad, relevant experience as soon as possible- even if it’s not ideal, it’s not forever. It’s easier to get a job when you have a job, you’re more marketable. Just because it’s not the perfect fit, doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. Listen, Millennials get a bad rep. If you are willing to work and do whatever it takes in any capacity, you will get hired.
Q: What component of MFMS should students highlight on their resume?
A: What you are doing here is so above and beyond. I’ve come back for a lot of Michigan events, and this is by far the most impressive. MFMS is a job, it should be listed as a job. Don’t put this under interests or extracurricular activities – it should be alongside other jobs and internship experiences. In terms of what to highlight, forward facing experience with higher level people is very impressive as well as professional email experience. Along with the logistics of event planning, communication skills should definitely be highlighted. You’re learning how to write and speak professionally- that is huge at an undergraduate level. If this ends up being as big of a deal as I think it will be, you won’t have trouble getting a job. Trust me.
Q: What part of the Michigan Fashion Media Summit are you most excited about? Is there any speaker, in particular, you are most excited to see?
A: I’m most excited to come back to campus. I love talking to students, this is my jam. I am excited to be at the event and help interpret all of the information to students and share my hands on advice as to how to take these skills and put it on your resume. I’m here to give tangible real-world advice. I know this is a generic answer, but I’m excited to hear everybody. I want to hear everybody’s diverse thoughts and backgrounds. I’m coming into this from a totally different perspective since I’m a recruiter, not a designer or CEO. I’m just so excited to be there!
Q: Is there anything else you would like me to include? Any quotes or last minute advice?
A: I have a couple of quotes that I believe in. The first is that you never know unless you go. Interviewing is like dating. You don’t know if you like the person unless you go on the date. Also, everything happens for a reason. Remember that everything that is meant to happen, will. You will get the job, you will meet the person. You just need to be open-minded. Moral of the story- dreams can change. Circumstances might bring you to new ideas and new professional pivots. Trust your gut. And never give up. My story is a perfect example of this. You can trip, and you can fall, but it will all be ok. No matter what happens, you go to the best school in the country. We get so wrapped up in things and sometimes we forget that. Take a breathe, have patience, and let it all work out.
Sztoser’s story is a testament to the unpredictability of the industry. You never know what career opportunity is going to come your way. You never know when your passions will change. And you never know when you will stumble upon a newfound dream. Be positive. Be confident. And be bold. The world is your oyster- seize every opportunity you can get. We are so excited to have Sztoser come to the first annual MFMS! Her story and career advice resonate with all of us go-getters in the room.