Experience of a Lifetime: Experiential Learning Prepares Students for Careers in Mass Communications
by Gerri Marroquin
The mass communications department at the University of West Georgia was awarded the 2016 Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award last spring for its excellent display of strong commitment to teaching and student success.
UWG’s mass communications department prioritizes to provide its students with resources to succeed. Outside of the classroom, students are able to expand their experience through various student media, such as bluestone, The West Georgian, The WOLF Internet Radio, and WUTV.
Mass communications students are encouraged to take advantage of the resources provided to them. Current students and recent graduates from the mass communications department have shared their experiences and how the available student media has prepared them for their future.
Taylor Sarratt: bluestone
Taylor Sarratt ’16 experienced bluestone student public relations firm her last semester at UWG.
“In bluestone, we were able to create material for our clients, and I fell in love with the process because we were able to use our knowledge and put it into action,” Taylor said.
In her semester in bluestone, Taylor and her classmates worked with two clients, one being Open Hands, a Christian ministry in Carrollton. Students worked together to research the clients’ competitive market and create items such as brochures and one-pagers. The major aspect of the course is developing and implementing a communications plan for the clients so they can reach their audience in an effective manner.
bluestone also allowed Taylor and her classmates to further strengthen their developed skills. Working for the clients, Taylor was able to focus on the writing portions of the work, whereas other students who flourished in other fields were able to focus solely on their interests or expertise areas.
“It was really neat to see everyone in his or her element,” Taylor said. “I was able to learn about other fields without having the pressure of mastering that specific field.”
Because of bluestone, Taylor was able to figure out what she did and did not want to do in her public relations career. For new students in the bluestone course, Taylor has this piece of advice:
“Make your connections. The clients you are working with are wanting your services so make them know your name and how hard you work.”
Kate Croxton: The West Georgian
Kate Croxton has been a part of The West Georgian staff since her junior year. She serves as the assistant copy editor and will continue to hold the title until graduation in December.
“I am very proud to be part of the paper, and of its growing potential,” Kate said. “Every experience has taught me something new and left a mark on me that I will carry on with me.”
Since joining The West Georgian, Kate has received a rough idea of how newspapers work and has a good idea of what her career as a journalist will consist of. Kate also holds an internship position with The Gwinnett Daily Post, which she credits The West Georgian for.
“Some students find out that their ideal career isn’t so ideal, and I’m grateful that I’ve been lucky enough to experience my future career first hand and still love it and not feel nervous about it,” she said.
Kate’s career at The West Georgian has been influenced by her convergence journalism concentration. She states that the classes she has taken have taught her how to interview, obtain research, write and edit articles, and use American Psychological Association (APA) style.
After graduation in December, Kate plans on applying to a broad range of newspapers throughout the Southeast, ideally working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and staying home near her family.
“My five year career plan is to have my own beat and my career path laid out while I also manage to travel and explore the world around me,” she said. “I have thought about doing travel blogs or writing internationally for papers so I can have the best of both worlds.”
Chase Johnson: The WOLF Internet Radio
Chase Johnson, whose concentration is in digital media and telecommunications, has been a part of The WOLF Internet Radio since the first day of his freshmen year.
“My first day I was at the station for six hours,” Chase said. “I liked the overall vibe because it felt like family. The reason I am a student at UWG is because of The WOLF Internet Radio.”
The WOLF has given Chase the opportunities to grow individually and on campus. He worked as an orientation leader for two years, a residential peer mentor, an athletic ambassador, and in film and video production for the university.
“When I get behind the microphone and put my radio voice on, I’m not the person people see on the day-to-day basis,” he said. “I’m able to overcome my shyness and be who I feel like I am, a confident individual.”
At the station, Chase works in programming. However, he plans on taking a different route for his future career. He has been debating on either film or radio. If he pursues a career in film, he would like to work in cinematography or directing; in radio, he would like to pursue a career in radio promotions or on-air work.
“I’m a very multi-faceted person so I just want to be sure that I can do everything,” Chase said. “That’s the type of person I am.”
Chase has won the Award of Excellence for Digital Media and Telecommunications and the Professional Development Award, both given by the mass communications department.
Michael Lewis: WUTV
Michael Lewis has been a part of WUTV since the spring of 2014. While taking Sonya Barnes’ Introduction to TV Production class, she approached Michael about volunteering with the station as an anchor.
“I didn’t even know that I was interested in TV production until I went in and found it interesting,” Michael said. “The more I got involved with the station the more I realized that it was really exciting.”
Along with recommending Michael to be involved with WUTV, Sonya also recommended him for an internship position with WAKA news station. After Media Day 2016 in the spring, Michael accepted the internship offer.
“I’m able to build on my skills and bring experience back to West Georgia of how actual news is done because while we do news at WUTV, it’s not an official hard news network, and I can’t wait to experience that every single day,” he said.
At WUTV, Michael has the freedom of choosing his own stories on campus and setting up his own interviews, which also gives him the necessary knowledge to work in the real world. He’s able to pursue stories in new innovative ways and has control on how they are told.
Michael believes that WUTV is different because the station has its own broadcasting area, the technical capabilities, and equipment.
“For us going live on the air, it pushes us to do our jobs better because we have to be tight and ready for the actual newscast. This prepares us for the future where you would have to be that way for the actual job,” Michael said.
Michael credits the professors, such as Dr. Camilla Grant and Deon Kay, in the mass communications department for his experiences.
“All of the professors that I have encountered have done their best to help, and make sure I’m getting the most out of the university,” he said. “Everything is so hands on, and they go above and beyond to make sure their students are where they need to be.”
After graduating from West Georgia, Michael dreams of pursuing a career in television production in news or entertainment.Posted on