A creative tip of the cap helps alumna land job at CNN

June 08, 2012

One year after her graduation from Penn State, Becky Perlow certainly appreciates the power of some assertive creativity.

Perlow, a 2011 graduate who double majored in journalism and hospitality management, entered graduation weekend last year without a job offer but left it with an opportunity that produced something special.

Here’s how she did it: Before graduation, while discussing how to decorate her cap with her brother, Perlow remembered that Wolf Blitzer of CNN was scheduled to be the commencement speaker for the College of Communications. So, she decided to write "Hire Me Blitzer" on her cap. Despite concerns that she would not be permitted to wear the cap, Perlow purchased silver pipe cleaners and blue glitter and began work on her creation. (She also purchased a second cap, just in case.)

On graduation day, when she was safely seated In the Bryce Jordan Center, Perlow switched her plain cap for the one with the sparkling job application. Her classmates around her laughed and complimented Perlow for her creativity. When it came time to step on stage, Perlow walked past her professors in the front row and gave them a tip of her cap so they could see her plan, which they found amusing.

Once on stage, Perlow shook hands with administrators and faculty, eagerly awaiting her chance. When she got to Blitzer, she looked him in the eye, shook his hand, then tilted her cap and said, “Sir, I made this hat for you.” Blitzer burst into laughter and thanked her, saying he truly enjoyed the gesture.

Perlow turned to walk away but Blitzer stopped her and asked her what her name was. She told him it was Becky Perlow, and that she had been tweeting him all week. When she returned to her seat, Perlow realized she had not shared her contact information. So she wrote down her name, email address and Twitter handle and gave them to a friend who had not yet crossed the stage. 

Perlow left graduation thinking she had only gained an entertaining story. Less than two days later, on Monday morning, she received a personal email from Wolf Blitzer that read, “Hey, congratulations! What a great day for all of us. Love the hat, send me your resume and I’ll tell you how to apply for a job at CNN.”

The days that followed were filled with email and phone correspondence, which eventually provided a list contacts for Perlow. One contact was Mike Maltas, who was director of live production at CNN. They eventually connected and met for a couple hours at CNN’s bureau in Washington, D.C., only for Perlow to find out there were no openings at the time.

A month later, though, Maltas reached out to Perlow about a position. She is now a full-time freelance news assistant. That often means 60- to 70-hour work weeks, but she’s quite happy with the result of her creative approach. “The trick is, if you love it, it’s not hard work,” she said. “It’s my passion. I’m doing what I love.”

  • Becky Perlow flashes her diploma to family members while wearing the cap that caught the attention of CNN's Wolf Blitzer during commencement exercises in 2011.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 08, 2012