By Jim Eaton
When Jess Abel ’13 began working with Cheryl Buff, Ph.D., director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA), she had no idea that this experience would give direction to her career path.
“I picked up my older brother’s research on cell phone use in the classroom and eventually joined the honors program because I found that I loved doing research,” Abel said.
Along the way Abel presented her findings along with graduate level students and professors from other institutions at conferences in Las Vegas, Nev. and Chicago, Ill.
“She got stronger with each conference and by the third one I had colleagues remarking to me how surprised they were to learn she was an undergraduate,” Buff said.
Her honors thesis titled, “From Facebook to Fearful,” focused on how social media could make people feel left out. She shared these results last spring at the national Marketing and Management Association Conference.
“I was terrified to present at first, but it turned out to be a great experience for me and I gained valuable feedback,” Abel said.
Mike Pepe, Ph.D., professor of marketing, assisted her in furthering her digital communications interests when he connected her to an internship at Price Chopper Supermarkets assisting the social media manager.
“Jess has always been a hard worker who does more than what is expected and this has opened doors for her,” Buff said.
Today, Abel is the lead digital marketer at Beech- Nut, a baby food company in Amsterdam, N.Y., that is currently owned by a Swiss consumer-goods firm.
Despite being new to the company, Abel was recently selected by Beech-Nut to go to Spain and present to corporate executives due to her strong communication skills.
“When I was on the plane it felt just like my Siena days, only Dr. Buff wasn’t with me this time,” Abel said. That didn’t stop her from texting her mentor to let Buff know how well she did.