A Decision That Paid Off
For 26-year-old Benjamin Bartolomei, it was love at first sight. From the moment he first visited Loyola University Chicago, he knew it was where he wanted to attend college. He couldn’t even be wooed by a letter from the University of Michigan, which was originally his first choice.
“I committed to Loyola, and shortly after University of Michigan sent me a letter in the mail from the admissions office, and I threw it out,” Bartolomei said. “I didn’t want to open it, I didn’t want to know, I didn’t want to second guess myself . . . At the end of the day, I’m really happy with the decision that I made.”
Having grown up in Zeeland, Mich. and wanting to stay close to home, he chose to only apply to Loyola instead of any other out-of-state school.
“I wanted to go to a place where I didn’t know a bunch of people from high school and to go somewhere I could start new, in a way,” Bartolomei said.
Bartolomei majored in advertising/public relations, but didn’t decide until his junior year, forcing him to do a lot of meticulous schedule planning. Despite this struggle, Bartolomei felt Loyola was helpful in keeping him on track to graduate on time.
“Once I had everything figured out they were extremely helpful in telling me, ‘OK, you have to do this, this and this,’ and really mapping it out for me,” Bartolomei said.
Aside from academic guidance, Bartolomei explained that Loyola provided him with connections and opportunities he couldn’t have gotten elsewhere, which lead him to his job as a Leo Burnett account executive.
“I don’t think I would be in the position I am in if I went to another school,” Bartolomei said. “Being in the city of Chicago, I had so many opportunities to jobs and internships and I didn’t have to go far to find them.”
His relationships with professors outside of school after graduating in 2008 helped him get the job he now.
“In a weird way, Loyola helped me get this job,” Bartolomei said. “You know, through the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. A PR professor was playing on “Ekstra FC” (the men’s soccer team Bartolomei now runs), told me they needed a player, and then I ended up playing with them for years, still do, and then met the friend who ended up getting me the job.”
That professor, that soccer team and that friend all lead to a job, which eludes Bartolomei to some important advice.
“Networking, networking, networking. I can’t stress that enough,” Bartolomei said. “I networked by butt off to get where I am.”