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JMC Days: Connecting students with career advice

A dynamic schedule of networking opportunities, professional discussions, and educational workshops had Drake students and faculty talking and tweeting during this year’s JMC Days.

In collaboration with the Drake chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) organized a jam-packed schedule of fun and informative events during the week of Oct. 21-25. Students, faculty, and professionals came together to celebrate the school’s accomplishments; they also shared their success with the rest of campus, using the hashtag #JMCDays on Twitter. After reinstating JMC Days only one year ago, the organizers were excited to add more professionals, an engaging WordPress tutorial, and an AP Style Quiz Bowl to this year’s lineup, in addition to student favorites such as mock interviews, speed networking events, and panel discussions.

Once again, events that brought students face-to-face with experienced professionals had the highest attendance. Des Moines professionals in diverse fields and positions interacted with students, fielding their questions and offering insight into life after Drake.

“Students from many majors and all years showed up to connect with the professionals we brought in,” says Kathleen Richardson, director of the SJMC. “Some were looking for jobs, while some were just looking to network. The professionals and our faculty were impressed with how engaged and interested all of the students in attendance were.”

Lauren Anderson, a sophomore studying public relations and psychology, enjoyed the chance to meet and mingle with professionals in her field at the Oct. 23 speed networking event.

“From talking to a few Des Moines professionals, I gained valuable knowledge about the aspects of fields I may be working in the future,” Anderson says. “One person I talked to was a Drake graduate, and he explained to me that the most marketable thing I can offer employers when I look for a job is experience. The more internships I have, the better off I will be. His advice and the internship opportunities I learned about during JMC Days will be helpful as I prepare for my career.”

In collaboration with the Central Iowa Public Relations Society of America’s annual Institute, the SJMC hosted a presentation by Greg Swan, vice president of digital strategy at Weber-Shandwick in Minneapolis, on Oct. 24. The PR and social media strategist discussed his award-winning engagement program for the U.S. Army to an audience of students, faculty, and local professionals. Swan has been listed as a Top Social Media Innovator in Minnesota and was listed on PRWeek’s “40 Under 40.”

On Oct. 25, the week’s events concluded with a “Build Your Own WordPress Site” tutorial, hosted by Drake Magazine, and a panel of social media experts including Justin Wise of Monk Development. Social media advocates, including members of Des Moines-based agencies and professional bloggers, encouraged students to be mindful of what they are posting on social media sites and shared tips on how to best utilize social media to market themselves. They discussed benefits social media can offer individuals and companies, a topic Wise considers essential to any student’s education.

“Panels such as this one show you what utilizing social media looks like in the real world,” Wise says. “Classroom education is important and good, but it can’t stay there. Knowledge has to be lived out. Attending an event like this shows you how to take theory and concept off the shelf and put ‘handlebars’ on it. It’s a trial-by-fire component that I believe every SJMC student needs to be exposed to.”

 -By Maria Opatz, public relations and advertising double major, class of 2014