This year’s Communication Week has been a successful extended event for students to network with alumni and become inspired by all they have accomplished since their time in Point.
Throughout the week, the event features visits to classrooms as well as individual networking times.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point communication alumni in attendance have accomplished everything from owning a business to winning an Academy Award.
“I think it is important for students to engage one-on-one with people working in the field,” said Andrew Stoner, an assistant professor of communication. “I think it also opens up students to the idea that a communication degree can relate to so many aspects of the world, and that whether you find yourself in for-profit, not-for-profit, private or public sector, there are many, many opportunities for a well-prepared communication major.”
While some visitors have conventional jobs as reporters and public relations consultants, others include a police officer and catering supervisor. Though these jobs may not be the first positions communication students expect to apply their degree to, they still employ the educational foundation mastered in the major.
“I think when students hear working professionals, someone other than their professors, speaking of the importance of being a good writer, learning to speak and present in front of others and knowing how to research and advocate an issue, they gain a lot,” Stoner said.
On Monday, junior Spanish and communication major Alex Stolzman listened to a presentation by Mark Bernhagen, the director of community engagement at Rainbow Hospice Care, in his health communication class.
“It was interesting to see a real life example of what a UWSP alumnus accomplished with his communication major, and I especially appreciated hearing how useful various communication concepts have been to him as he’s successfully worked in the medical field,” Stolzman said.
Although classroom presentations are beneficial to students, great opportunities lie in scheduled networking times.
“It is a time to collect business cards and make contacts,” said Rhonda Sprague, the associate dean and division head of communication. “Now is the time to expand your professional circle.”
Two of the other alumni who talked with students Monday were Emily Anderson and Sarah Cooke, who offered students advice from personal experience in the arts management field.
“LinkedIn is shockingly helpful in finding jobs,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the site helps her keep in contact with individuals she has met in the field.
“Be consistent with people you network with,” Cooke said. “Keep tabs on the people whose jobs you would like. Pick their brains for questions.”
This year’s Communication Week features a graduate who won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. 1975 alumna Peggy Rajski’s short is currently being developed into a musical. She also co-founded a not-for-profit organization that manages the country’s first toll free 24-hour suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.
“The Oscar is the highest achievement anyone in the world can reach in filmmaking, and it’s held by a UWSP graduate who grew up in Wisconsin,” Stoner said. “I hope it serves as an inspiration about how far the roads from our little campus here can lead, and how important the preparation and the work we do here now can be toward traveling that road.”
Rajski will be presenting in front of film production students tomorrow from 11 a.m. to noon. She will then have networking time from 12:45 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. in room 227 of the Communication Arts Center. She will finish the day with a screening of her award-winning short film, “Trevor,” in the Dreyfus University Center theater at 2 p.m.