MC Close Up: Five Towns College

By Jonathan Widran

In 2010, the last time MC profiled Long Island-based Five Towns College—renowned for its commitment to educating entertainment professionals in the worlds of music, media, business, teaching and performing arts—the focus was on the school’s much heralded Music Business program.

The program was developed by Professor Susan Gaide close to 30 years ago and expanded into a four-year program under the college’s VP Marin Cohen in 1990. Due to the evolving industry business models during this digital age, there has been a concentrated effort in recent years to include more studies on digital media, technological advances and the importance of entrepreneurship.

Because of the challenging economic conditions in the music industry and US in general over the past few years, it makes sense for the focus to be on the powerful tools that FTC students of all disciplines have at their disposal via the Office of Career Services, helmed by Director Krysti O’Rourke (pictured right).

As the bridge between students and companies in the industries they seek to work in after graduation, the department’s goal is to provide a variety of experiential opportunities to enhance academic experience and prepare students for the workforce. These experiences include professional seminars, cooperative education, off campus jobs, networking opportunities, career counseling and career education.

The Five Towns College Office of Career Services is staffed by knowledgeable personnel who strive to achieve the following goals: to enhance student awareness, preparation and appreciation of career activities and related work opportunities; to assist students in obtaining employment; to develop experiential opportunities that are linked to the student’s career objectives, like internships; to develop and maintain contacts with individuals and organizations in the private, non-profit and public sectors that facilitate learning opportunities; and to establish and maintain databases and materials that facilitate the matching of student with these opportunities.

O’Rourke places special emphasis on the value of internships, which the music business, audio engineering, and mass communications programs (broadcasting and journalism) list as requirements and which film and video students can do for their elective credits. As part of her job, she teaches two courses on internships (Internship 1 and 2), which cover such topics as professionalism, assessment, creating resumes and cover letters, interviewing skills, etc.

“Our office is proud of the efforts we place on individualized assistance,” she says. “Major and independent companies contact us with a lot of their internships and paying jobs because they know we’re a small school (1,000 enrolled at any given time) focused on music and the arts. Our music business program is also one of the larger ones in the country. We also do workshops for the employers we deal with. There’s a huge balance between representing Five Towns College and making contacts and maintaining relationships with employers on behalf of students.

“The best advertising,” O’Rourke adds, “is a great student who does well in their internship and inspires these companies to come back to us for new talent. We have also continued to expand our annual career fair to include more top industry employers. Our Career Services and Student Activities collaborate to offer a unique, award-winning Lunch & Lecture Series. We invite professionals from across the spectrum to come to speak to our students in an environment that is both professional and casual. While the luncheon features longtime professionals, we also have a very successful Alumni Series Panel that we do with former students who graduated more recently and who are doing well on their chosen career path.”

While most of the students who attend Five Towns College are from the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area, others enroll from as far west as California and as far away as Korea and Italy.

Contact Five Towns College, 631-424-7000