Where Are They Now?

Every year, students from the   Department of Communication graduate with big dreams and high hopes of landing that first, real-life job. In the spirit of continued departmental connection and unity after graduation, I checked in with Diana Vela and Olivia Sharp, both former Department of Communication students and authors featured in previous Communiqué newsletters, to see how their new post-collegiate life is shaping out to be.

Diana Vela currently works at Sullivan University, located in Louisville, Kentucky, in their Human Resources department as a Human Resources Assistant. Ms. Vela works closely with other Human Resources professionals in the office and assists in the posting odiana velaf new positions and data management of potential Sullivan employees. She credits her success in finding a job so quickly after graduation to the excellent mentoring she received from Department of Communication professors, especially Ms. Charlotte Elder. According to Ms. Vela, the most influential class she took while at WKU was her Honors Business Public Speaking class, or Honors COMM 161, with Dr. Angie Jerome. “This class was the class I took while I was discovering what major I wanted to declare…it sparked my interest in the major,” said Ms. Vela. She suggests for the graduating senior, “Get involved and take internships, even if they are unpaid! These internships most definitely pay off when you are hired a few months out of college versus someone who graduated at the same time without any internships.”

Olivia Sharp also resides in Louisville, Kentucky working as the WE Day Program Education Coordinator at the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association. Her responsibilities include working on statewide YMCA events including Kentucky United Nations Association olivia sharp(KUNA) and the Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA) as well as supervising service trips across the state. Ms. Sharp most enjoys as a YMCA employee watching today’s youth grow and develop into strong, civically engaged citizens. As for using her Corporate and Organizational Communication degree, Ms. Sharp says she often applies the strategies and theories taught in Persuasion with Dr.Jerome as one of her biggest responsibilities is to persuade schools that they need both Kentucky YMCA and WE Day programming for their students. Her biggest piece of advice for graduating seniors is to “Enjoy your senior year and use your professors as professional and personal resources.” She emphasized the high quality of professors in the department, and recommends, “taking in every moment surrounded by the best mentors and influences on campus!”

These recent graduates are prime examples of what hard work and perseverance can achieve as students enter into post-collegiate life. Though they are beyond their days of writing for this newsletter, both Ms. Vela and Ms. Sharp explained that the Department of Communication, the relationships forged, and their memories here will always hold a special place in their hearts.

 

Looking for an Internship?

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Internships benefit students because they provide “real world” experiences and opportunities. Internships can boost a resume and make you look better to future employers. For Corporate and Organizational Communication majors, completing an internship is a requirement for graduation; for Communication Studies majors, it can stand in for Capstone. Here are several great internship opportunities in Bowling Green.

Lost River Cave

This past summer, Afton Connor, a senior in the Department of Communication, completed an internship at Lost River Cave. She was responsible for handling the marketing and social media accounts. While interning, her biggest project was to coordinate the organization’s annual fundraising event, the “Scarecrow Trail.” In order to plan this event, she had to contact different businesses and organizations to try to get them to donate to or to participate in this event. From her internship, she says that she gained experience in event planning, marketing, communication, sales, and customer service. Afton stated that she would love to work for this organization or a similar non-profit organization in the future because, “I love the mission and passion behind a non-profit. The only downfall is that there is not a lot of money in these areas of work, but at least the people love what they do.” When asked if she had any advice for students who may be interested in interning at Lost River Cave, Afton says “You need to be passionate about the organization and the mission behind it. This position is an unpaid internship, therefore, it is crucial for you to love what you are doing.” She also added that it is a great internship for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in sales, marketing or public relations.

AroundCampus

WKU student Ashlee Gregory recently interned for an organization called AroundCampus. As an intern for this organization, Ashlee was responsible for calling other businesses and organizations to ask if they would be interested in ad space for the WKU student planner. She was also responsible for helping put together the ads into the WKU student planner that is given away free from the Preston Center each year. When asked what she learned from this experience, Ashlee says “I learned how to get told “no” over and over again and still push through the day. I also learned that you have to be persistent in order to get sales.” Ashlee says that she would possibly consider working for a similar organization in the future. The ability to be able to cold call effectively and persevere if businesses tell you ‘no’ are skills that would be needed if you are interested in this internship.

Corvette Plant

The Corvette Plant is seeking interns who are deadline dependable, flexible, creative, and able to work in a very fast paced environment. The Corvette Plant has many internship opportunities available in the areas of Communications, Human Resources, Safety, and many more. Interns are responsible for doing a variety of jobs, one of which is leading tours through the plant. In order to be considered as an intern at the Corvette Plant, students must be available to work at least 11 hours a week, be available to meet a minimum of 4 tour times, and be fluent in English. For people specifically interested in a Communication internship, responsibilities include but are not limited to the following: writing and distributing the weekly newsletter to the plant, giving tours, designing banners and décor to boost plant enthusiasm, organizing and assisting with special events, and updating the plant website. Overall, interns need to be always ready and willing to work with various members of the plant leadership on all types of projects.

For additional information on internships in the Bowling Green area, contact Dr. Mize-Smith at jennifer.mize.smith@wku.edu for fall and spring internships, and Dr. Helen Sterk at helen.sterk@wku.edu for summer internships

Communication Student Organizations

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The Department of Communication is full of a variety of student organizations and programs to get students involved. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is available to all Communication majors through the Business College. Contact Stacey Gish at stacey.gish@wku.edu. Communication Ambassadors is well-known as an undergraduate organization for students who wish to promote the Department of Communication. Contact Prof. Charlotte Elder at charlotte.elder@wku.edu. The interCULTURAL Club is for all students interested in promoting good communication across cultural boundaries. Consult with Facebook at www.facebook.com/Interculturalclubwku/?fref=ts.

Among them, Lambda Pi Eta and the Communication Organization for Graduate Students are introduced in this article.

According to Dr. Kong, faculty advisor of Lambda Pi Eta (LPH), it is completely free to join and is mainly voluntary when it comes to involvement. The requirements include having an overall GPA of 3.0 and 3.2 for Communication classes. Dr. Kong states that the primary goal of LPH is to “prepare you for the academic profession, leadership, and to strive for excellence.” The students in this honors society benefit by hosting social and networking events, having different contests amongst each other, and it also boosts their resumes. Dr. Kong says, “Please attend events organized by these clubs upon seeing a flyer or email so you can ‘feel-out’ if you like the people or the programs. All of these clubs and organizations are open to new ideas.”

Dr. Jerome serves as the faculty advisor of the Communication Organization for Graduate Students (COGS). According to Dr. Jerome, Cody Norris started it for a leadership project several years ago in attempt to bring the graduate students together since some of them are busy working full-time. Some are new to the program. Some are international students who are not familiar with the American education systems. This program plans social events, special dinners, and other opportunities for graduate students to come together and be able to feel more comfortable around each other. This is also a great way to boost your resume and shows that you strive to be better connected to the departmental community. Dr. Jerome states that, “The Department of Communication is represented very well and there are wonderful opportunities to get involved regardless of interest or GPA. This club is also free to join, but is obviously restricted to those who are graduate students in our program.” She also goes on to say that she would like to see COGS get involved in educational seminars and volunteer work. Students who are interested in COGS, talk to Dr. Jerome.

Overall, there are plenty of ways for incoming and current students to get involved and have fun within the Communication Department. I have only highlighted a couple of programs but there are plenty of opportunities offered. The more students who get involved, the more fun the organization will be. Furthermore, students that utilize their opportunities are going to get more out of their educational experience. In the words of Dr. Jerome, “Get in here!”

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Taking a Swing at that Second Job?

Hi, Alums–Ready for that second job? Louisville Slugger is looking for a Marketing Communications Manager. Here’s the link: http://www.sluggermuseum.com/careers/ Good luck!

NCA 101st Annual Convention

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Once a year, Communication scholars, teachers, and students alike assemble at an annual conference organized by the National Communication Association (NCA) with the purpose of furthering communication research. Each year Western Kentucky University’s Department of Communication sends a team to the convention to share their research from the previous year, learn about what other researchers have been studying, and make connections within the field.

This year the event took place November 19-22nd in Las Vegas, Nevada and WKU sent a team of sixteen professors, graduate students, and undergraduates to participate.

Professors Mize Smith, Thompson, Payne, Jerome, Brown, Kong and Sterk represented WKU. Like the other professors, Dr. Blair Thompson presented his own research, reviewed other papers to determine which papers would receive awards, and participated on a panel of experts that would answer any questions that arise. Dr. Thompson pointed out that WKU faculty and students have taken home many awards over the years, but also value the connections they make with other researchers. Through networking at the conference, Dr. Thompson has teamed up with schools like Clemson and Xavier for research. Dr. Angela Jerome also shared some of the benefits of attending, “It’s great to see, discuss research, and catch up with the people that I attended graduate school with at the University of Kansas. It also gives students a broader view of what we do in research and what they are capable of doing. An all-around great experience”.

Undergraduate student Paige Settles attended as one of two student representatives for the National Forensics Association National Council. She discussed policies for the next tour this coming April and business that has been conducted throughout the year.   Before the competition she also reiterated Dr. Jerome when discussing what she was most excited about, “I am really looking forward to the variety of areas within communication that the conference covers. This is one of the biggest things that surprised me last year, the variety of research that you have access to. I’m already looking at the schedule and trying to decide which panels that I want to attend.”

Those representing WKU enjoyed another great experience this year under the bright lights of Las Vegas.

 

Long-distance WKU Student Overcomes Big Challenges

Two years ago, Rebecca Whaley moved to Florida, with hours to go toward her major and graduation, thinking she might never finish. Last night, she was inducted into our Communication honors society, Lambda Pi Eta, via FaceTime. In May, she will come back to walk at graduation. She wrote to Dr. Sterk, “Two years ago it seemed impossible and I wanted to give up. Tonight when you honored me, I had to hold back the tears. THANK YOU.”

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A mom with two children, Rebecca worked tenaciously with our advisor, Prof. Bruce Crawley, to find ways to finish. Prof. Crawley researched schools near her in Florida to find transfer courses, conferred over the phone with some of those schools, and developed strategies for Rebecca to complete courses she only could do at WKU, such as Advanced Public Speaking and Capstone.

One strategy was to FaceTime Advanced Public Speaking with Dr. Winn. Emeritus faculty member, Dr. Winn sent her his annotated PowerPoints for the content and she recorded her speeches for him to grade. In between, they connected on FaceTime and phone. One day, when the connections didn’t work smoothly, Rebecca called Dr. Winn’s wife and sent her speech via Dr. Winn’s wife’s phone.

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This semester, Rebecca took Capstone every Tuesday afternoon with Dr. Sterk via FaceTime and completed her assignments via email. Yesterday, she gave her persuasive speech from her home in Florida.

The Department of Communication graduates its students. We care about you and your future!

 

 

 

Advisory Council Helps Develop the Department

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Many of us have come to class and gone after class. However, many of us have no idea about what is going on within our department as it comes to fundraising and when it comes to department based decisions. This is where the Advisory Council of the Department of Communication comes into play.

Dr. Sterk, department head, sheds light on what the Advisory Council is and what fundraising plans they have for the future of our department. The Advisory Council is made up of successful alumni and friends of the department who are willing to help the us stay up to date on what is needed to be successful after college is over. According to Dr. Sterk “We have just begun to work toward fundraising with the Communication Advisory Council. This year, the Department put forward a proposal for uses of funds. So, this year is a planning year.” She continued, “As a department, our operating budget covers necessary office costs and also costs related to producing and promoting faculty and student research. When it comes to extending our reach through graduate assistantships and undergraduate scholarships, it takes more than our yearly operating budget to make those happen.”

The Advisory Council is considering multiple ideas for advancing our department, such as an award for an outstanding faculty member and graduate student. The award would be $1,000 for the faculty and an outstanding graduate student would receive $500. The named faculty member could be featured in an event where they present their research. Another idea is book scholarships for $1000 for the department to purchase textbooks for most of our classes and keep them in the Communication Success Center for reading in there. These are both intriguing for our department.

Having an Advisory Council benefits our department. Dr. Sterk explained “The benefits of their advice include many curricular changes. At the graduate level, we have revised the graduate certificate program in Communicating in Organizations, and added another certificate program in Communicating in Healthcare. Students can complete these graduate certificates completely online. In addition we offer a Joint Undergraduate Master’s Program (JUMP) as well as many masters courses online. At the undergraduate level, we have changed the capstone requirements so students in the Communication studies program may choose either an internship or the COMM 494: Capstone in Communication course. Students in the Corporate and Organizational Communication program complete an internship as their capstone course.”

The Advisory Council is on our side, developing ideas and opportunities for the future of our department. Because of the Advisory Council, we continue on the fast track to success in the Department of Communication at WKU.