STAC alumna Patricia Stark reflects on internship and work experiences, discusses current endeavors, and offers advice to STAC students with Calmfidence®️

By Kathryn Cambrea

(Photo courtesy Patricia Stark): Patricia Stark poses for her headshot.

*In an interview for the STAC Office of Career Development’s podcast, “After Class,” STAC alumna Patricia Stark spoke about her company Patricia Stark Communications, Calmfidence®️, the internships she had as a STAC student, advice she has regarding interviews and finding internships, her new book and podcast, and so much more. Click here to listen to the podcast on Spotify or here to listen on Apple Podcasts. This article can also be accessed on The Thoma.

“Suddenly, when you find yourself in a new situation, or you’re expanding your comfort zone, you can get that agitation and that, you know, your heart rate and that anxiety. I looked and I was like, ‘What’s a blend of those two?’ and it came down to the word, Calmfidence®️.”

These are the words of Patricia Stark, a proponent of positivity who has left her mark in the field of communications. She also happens to be an alumna of St. Thomas Aquinas College’s class of 1988. In no way is Stark a stranger to the screen. She has extensive experience in television broadcasting, including experience in radio. The areas of health and wellness in particular appeal to Stark. She continues to appear as a guest with knowledge in the area of communication on the news. 

In fact, Stark has even acted in programs such as Law and Order: Criminal Intent as well as in films, such as W.E. Stark has served as a television news anchor and journalist, and even a host of a radio program called “Inside & Out with Patricia Stark,” so she has been called to play a newscaster for a variety of roles. For the film, W.E., specifically, not only did she play a role that she has authentically completed throughout her career as a newscaster, but she even got to work under the direction of Madonna.  

And now? Stark is the president of Patricia Stark Communications, but she also branded the term Calmfidence®️, which embodies the coaching that she provides not only to people who appear on-screen, but for situations of everyday life. Stark trains clients individually as well as through workshops. Circumstances that call for coaching range anywhere from appearing on television or presenting at work to having an important conversation and working on self-perception. Due to applications like Zoom, Stark is able to meet with clients to work on their Calmfidence®️ virtually. In fact, Stark’s book, which will be published in September of 2021, will have that trademarked term as its title. In addition to her book, Stark has a podcast in the works with Ernie Anastos of Fox 5 News, titled, “Good Stuff.” 

In addition to all of the experience that Stark has, she has graduated from STAC and commends the school for guiding her in her career journey. Stark shared how as a STAC student, she interned for MTV and Channel 8 TKRL Cable which turned into Cablevision.

“They [TKRL Cable] let me do and learn everything. From lighting to directing to technical directing to operating cameras to writing and being in front of the camera and hosting local shows like ‘Eye on Rockland’ and live call-in shows like ‘Cable A to Z,’ so it made me become so entrenched in the Rockland County community and learn so much more about local government and history and all those those things but it was like, it was just like an amazing learning ground because I literally got to do everything there,” Stark said. 

Stark remembers the environment of STAC and attributes it to her growth and success. 

“From not only having those wonderful internships but I still talk to probably three or four of my professors from the time that I physically went to school there. And the small class sizes, and that open door policy and that feeling of family just kept growing, and throughout my time there, that was what helped me in so many ways, find the confidence…” Stark said.

She credited the course that she took with Dr. Mary Burns to building her confidence.

“It wasn’t just a class about public speaking. It was a class on self-esteem and thinking the right thoughts…it taught me so many things,” Stark said.

She loves the familial aspect of the College that she felt from her own professors, and Stark returns to her alma mater each year.

“The people and the teachers that were there were just amazing. I go back to visit every year as a speaker. I’ve been an adjunct professor at STAC and I always find the teachers and the staff to have that same feeling of you know just being welcome and being positive and energetic and they can’t do enough to help you as a student and I’ve found as an alumni the same sense there.”

Stark had just returned to STAC on Jan. 24 of this year when she was recognized as an honoree in the STAC Hall of Fame for 2020. She found the occasion to be a magical evening. 

As a graduate of STAC, Stark has a lot of advice for current students of the College when it comes to finding internships and jobs. To her, every opportunity is valuable. 

Stark described how through the show that she once had on WRCR, “Inside & Out,” Anastos reached out to interview her as a guest on television.

“This was a great lesson that nothing is too small; no place is too little,” Stark said.

Stark not only has appeared as a guest alongside Anastos on Fox5NY; she even has a podcast in the works with the renowned news anchor.

Another piece of advice that Stark has is to network and form relationships. Stark said that the roles she has played in movies and TV programs can be attributed to the relationships she has built with talent agents from her coaching. They know that communicating is her niche, and through networking, she has been presented with more opportunities. Also, Stark never anticipated that her show which aired on a local AM station would catch the ears of Anastos. Now, the two are friends. She added that her internships as a college student were unpaid, but that they had a crucial role in her career journey. 

When it comes to being interviewed and finding an internship, Stark recommends preparation, respect, and a positive attitude. 

“Be happy to be there. Do your homework. Have great manners. And then lastly, what I will leave you with for trying to find work and trying to find internships or on interviews, be a class act. Be a person of excellence. Be somebody who has good manners,” Stark said.

When it comes to interviews or communicating in general, Stark feels that eye contact, professionalism, and listening are paramount. 

“The best communicators are the best listeners,” Stark said.

She finds that asking questions are indicators of engagement in a conversation, which could make someone stand out in an interview. Being respectful and sending a thank you note are additional tips she highlighted.

As someone who exudes Calmfidence®️, Stark of course shared life advice. She truly believes in the power of silence to clear someone’s mind, and recommends this technique to her clients because it is often overlooked.

“So I think that’s the theme that most people don’t do. They’re rushing, rushing, rushing, so they rush right into the interview. They rush right into the class. They rush right into the tough conversation. They rush right into you fill in the blank. And you can’t think straight when you’re agitated and when you’re rushed, so give yourself the gift of, let me just take a breath.”

Stark finds that there is a relationship between self-perception and communication, so she encourages clients to not speak negatively about themselves. In other words, self-perception does not just affect communication; communication has an impact on self-perception. Therefore, speaking more positively and growing conscious of negative comments can be beneficial. Stark thinks that ultimately, a person is the agent of what he/she wishes to accomplish, not others who bring in their judgment.

“No one gets to define you but you. No one gets to say who you get to be in this world but you,” Stark said.

Of course, Stark shared advice for STAC students. 

“Don’t limit yourself. Make sure that you go out there and you grab the world by the horns, and just know that you came from great people and a great foundation and a great place. And you really can do anything that you put your mind to and if people tell you that that’s not true, you’re hanging out with the wrong people.”

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