Communication Connection

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Opportunities in COM

COM Students Help Educate the Educators

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

By Amanda McGahey


Transition can be stressful. Towards the end of the school year, many communication studies students are embarking on their transition into the professional world. The transition can be even harsher when college students do not have a professional portfolio or any artifacts to show potential employers they have the skills to succeed. Consequentially, senior lecturer Jennifer Chin developed her Public Relations II course into a class that gives her students the “real-world” experience young professionals need.

In January 2015, Wilmington’s Mosley Performance Learning Center decided to change the school’s name to the Career Readiness Academy. With this transition, the school had to ensure their local brand recognition did not weaken; however, the faculty had no knowledge of public relations. Brooke Hazelwood, the school’s Instructional Coach, previously heard about the Communication Studies Society’s Dress for Success Fashion Show and thus, got in contact with Chin. Through this interaction is how Chin learned about the school’s re-naming and offered the Career Readiness Academy to be a client in Chin’s Public Relations II course.

Hazelwood’s goal for the collaboration was to let the Wilmington community know that the school is an alternative for students who did not believe they would be successful in the traditional public school system. The school provides a nontraditional approach where classes are smaller, the education is career-technical driven and students are even provided internship or job shadowing experiences.

“It was important for us to let people know who we are now, not who we were,” said Hazelwood. “The school is not for ‘bad kids’.”

Throughout the semester, it was vital for the PR students to remember the client’s overall goal and messages when creating surveys, new brochures, flyers, advertisements and even social media plans. The two groups competed against each other to see which artifact their client preferred, making the semester rigorous and intense.

“It was really nice to have a fresh perspective and energy behind what you’re doing,” says Hazelwood. “I was used to seeing things from a high school student’s mindset and what the PR students brought were very innovative.”

By the end of the semester, each group compiled all of their research findings, artifacts, analyses and other plans into a public relations plan that was over 100 pages. These proposals provide Chin’s students a solid artifact to show potential employers how capable and knowledgeable they are about the public relations field.

“Professor Chin’s PR II class taught me many things about my future,” says Madison Burk, one of the team members for the Career Readiness Academy. “We learned everything from how to write a formal PR plan to working with a real client.”

Not only will students be able to show employers the artifacts, but they will also be able to share with them that from these proposals, the Career Readiness Academy plans to use a flyer, a social media plan, a magazine advertisement and conduct business conferences.

“What better way to learn PR than to have a rigorous course, with a mock client,” says Hazelwood. “This program is strong.”

The Department of Communication Studies at UNCW has developed strong courses that provide students with the means to be prepared for the transition from college to the professional world.