Buckeyes past and present know the words by heart: “Time and change will surely show how firm thy friendship…” Some of the strongest relationships exist between fellow Buckeyes. With more than 23,000 School of Communication alumni and 1,700 current students, the School of Communication hopes to foster even more of these friendships.
The School is working to engage alumni through creating new committees, expanding mentorship programs, reinstating an alumni award and providing more ways for alumni to get involved.
The School saw a need to connect with alumni who wanted to give back, so in autumn 2018, it created a new School of Communication Advancement Board. Now 10 members strong and comprised of Buckeye alumni from different industries, generations and geographic locations, the Advancement Board provides guidance and support for the School, its programs and student organizations.
The Advancement Board’s first major initiative was to help The Lantern raise more than $10,000 for a fundraising competition against “That School Up North” in November 2019. However, School of Communication Associate Director Osei Appiah said the work is just getting started.
“Once we started the Advancement Committee, we realized the importance of having an Alumni Engagement Committee,” said Appiah.
Established in autumn 2019, the Alumni Engagement Committee, chaired by Appiah, was created to foster more meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships between students and alumni. The committee is comprised of faculty, lecturers and advising staff who represent the communication and journalism majors, The Lantern and the School’s student organizations.
One of the committee’s primary initiatives is to strengthen mentorship opportunities.
“Our alumni have a great deal of information and experience. Our students can learn quite a bit from them,” said Appiah.
This year Ohio State PRSSA’s professional mentorship program connected 55 students with 55 professionals — many of whom are alumni — across the country. Pairs meet in person or chat over the phone discussing everything from how to apply for jobs and internships to shared, beloved Buckeye traditions.
“My mentors have helped me prepare for interviews, reviewed and edited my cover letters and resume, referred me to jobs and other contacts and truly treated me as a friend,” said Ohio State PRSSA President Konni Lorenz. “The industry knowledge, advice and support our mentors provide to our students is unmatched.”
Ohio State journalism students are participating in a pilot mentoring program. Six editors of The Lantern will be matched with alumni who will serve as professional contacts, help them learn to manage student reporters and answer key questions about the industry and job market.
Senior journalism and geology double-major and Lantern Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Harter has weekly phone calls with her mentor, journalism alumnus and Advancement Board member Jay Smith (BA, Journalism, ’71).
“Jay has been an amazing mentor and has provided me with advice on everything from leadership to story ideas to career paths,” Harter said. “We’ve developed a close relationship, and I’m very grateful for the guidance and wisdom Jay has provided.”
As the School continues to connect with alumni and strengthen these programs, mentorship opportunities will become available to more students.
“Mentorship experiences can improve students’ self confidence, advance their professional development, give them exposure to diverse perspectives and help them develop a lasting career network,” said Appiah. “What better way for alumni to connect with the School than to connect with our students?”
For the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year, the School of Communication will be reinstating its Alumni Award. The alumnus or alumna will be selected for demonstrating excellence through their career achievements, upholding high standards of character and citizenship and representing the School of Communication and its mission.
“It’s important to acknowledge the great work that our alumni are doing in their careers, how they are enhancing the brand of the School and setting a great example for our students,” said Appiah.
Another initiative made possible by the Advancement Board’s support is a new School of Communication alumni website.
The website allows alumni to access Lantern archives, read about what students are doing, stay up to date with alumni news and provide financial support.
“We’re really trying to engage our alumni in ways we haven’t before. We look forward to expanding this and allowing more alumni to connect with each other,” said Appiah.
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Article by student Eleanor Kapcar.