Student Spotlight: Conor McElhaney

In 10 years, some students see themselves making millions in the corporate world. For others, the future looks like a big family in the suburbs. 

For Sonoma State University’s Conor McElhaney, the future looks bright with clear skies.

“In 10 years, I see myself on a beach somewhere, probably eating a burrito, enjoying the day,” said McElhaney.

The San Diego native is finishing up his fourth year as a communications major and has come to surround himself with good friends and good food along the way. 

In his spare time back home, he said he is usually getting a California burrito from Rigoberto’s and heading to the beach. 

Steadily making his way through the GE pattern and knocking out classes for his major, he found himself interested in media studies and wanted to expand what he already knew and hopes to pursue it as a career. 

He is well-known around campus, especially in the Communication Studies department. 

McElhaney got involved with SSUTV, Sonoma State’s student-run television station, and last fall became the general manager after working on a few projects alongside previous manager, Derrick Carbiener. 

As some students already know, classroom experience is nothing compared to the real thing. 

Not to say that sitting through lectures and PowerPoint presentations are completely useless, but hands on experience gives students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned.

“When it comes to developing the skills necessary to be considered for a position in the digital marketplace, I can say the most of what I’ve learned has been through internship or independent research in my field of interest,” said McElhaney.

Aside from being media savvy, McElhaney has also dabbled in the marketing business. 

Old volleyball teammate and friend in San Diego Brian Annen started a hockey wax company named ProFormance Wax. 

After talking about the company with Annen, McElhaney became interested and thought he could put his media skills to the test. He asked if he could help the company out with the marketing side of things. 

The wax is designed to help players customize the traction of their hockey stick as well as enhance puck control and help with their tape’s lifespan.

“The whole experience since we started production in November has taught me so much about what goes into establishing a brand and how important online networking is in the digital marketplace,” said McElhaney.

The ProFormance Wax crew plans to attend the 25th annual “Let’s Play Hockey Expo” in Minnesota in early March. 

More than 150 major hockey brands will be there along with fans and vendors. McElhaney and the rest of the team are excited to network and make a name for themselves in the hockey industry.

Like many incoming freshmen, the lavish dorms offered on campus is part of what originally attracted McElhaney to Sonoma State. 

“Applying to schools, I didn’t have a first choice but I knew I wanted to check out Northern California,” said McElhaney. “After visiting Sonoma and seeing the freshman year experience (FYE) program and the villages in Sauvignon, I was sold.”

Coming in as freshman, students are often overwhelmed with the many choices for clubs and majors and everything else that a new environment could bring. 

Some students, for example, go semesters without declaring a major. Others, like McElhaney, knew right from the start.

“I wanted to be a communications major because I thought I wanted to be an anchor after being inspired by Ron Burgundy,” said McElhaney. “I also heard Zach Galifianakis was a communications major in college so I figured I was making the right choice.”

For now, McElhaney knows there is still so much left to learn in the marketing world. 

He is in the process of applying for an internship, specifically at the digital marketing agency 3Q Digital. 

He recently participated in a phone interview for the opportunity as an intern to become a digital account manager and is now waiting for the response.

“Interning at 3Q Digital would be my last internship as a Communications major and there’s no way I could have imagined myself at this point three years ago as a freshman in Grenache,” said McElhaney.

Graduating in the spring, he hopes to use his internship experiences and networking skills to get his foot in the door and essentially kick-start his career.

“Throughout my whole experience at SSU, it’s really been the people I’ve been around that has made this a solid college experience,” said McElhaney. 

“Every interaction, laugh, and tear that I’ve shared with others over the years has confirmed that I made the right choice becoming a Seawolf.”