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Journalism Days celebrates career opportunities

A week of networking and professional development events inspires students

School of Journalism and Mass Communications students left this month’s “Drake Journalism Days” events with business cards and boosted confidence. The weeklong series of professional development and networking sessions proved what an exciting time it is to pursue a career in communications.

“We had several goals for the week: to celebrate our accomplishments, to increase the profile of the school on campus, and to provide professional development opportunities to students,” says Kathleen Richardson, SJMC director.

“My goal for students, in their four years here, is to develop a tool kit of skills they can take and go out and use while doing whatever the world throws at them.”

Photo via Drake SJMC website

Professionals from across journalism disciplines spoke on personal branding, industry trends, advertising ethics, effective writing and more. The events provided advice for students who are looking forward to careers in media and connected them with numerous alumni and local professionals from outlets such as The Des Moines Register, Meredith Corporation, Principal Financial Group, Iowa Public Television, and more.

The week kicked off with “The Brand of You,” a presentation by social media guru Claire Celsi, AS’01. Celsi, who was recently named director of marketing and community partnerships at Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), kept the crowd engaged while advocating contemporary strategies for students to build a positive, professional appearance in the media industry.

Wednesday’s “Cutting Edge” event featured a panel of media specialists involved in many aspects of the industry, including sports reporting, magazine and newspaper editing and marketing entrepreneurship. The discussion addressed exciting opportunities in the field, personal branding and the importance of internships. The student audience actively participated by tweeting their questions using the #drakejdays hashtag.

“The goal was to show students that there are great, creative, innovative things going on in the media world,” says panel moderator Chris Snider, instructor of practice in multimedia. “There was a good debate among the panelists. I think the students in attendance got value out of it, as their tweets seemed to show.”

On Thursday, students and local professionals participated in speed networking. The president of the Young Professionals Connection, Jason Wells, JO’04, encouraged students to take advantage of the networking events offered by the school.

“The speed networking night and the other events of Journalism Days are a great opportunity to show students how strongly Des Moines embraces Drake students,” Wells says.

Throughout the week, SJMC professors were encouraged to host professionals in their classes to address specific topics pertaining to each course. All Drake students were invited to sit in on classes with speakers, in hopes of fostering collaboration and understanding between majors.

Erin Hassanzadeh, a sophomore broadcast news major, attended every major event of the week. She was enthusiastic about her experience with Journalism Days, especially the speed networking event.

“I learned it’s a lot about who you know and showing initiative and interest in a company,” Hassanzadeh says. “It was an awesome experience to start practicing those conversations.”