Power of Alumni-Student Connections

Alumni speaking to students

Ohio State’s School of Communication graduates more than 500 students each year. Overnight these students become alumni and begin building careers with media companies, public relations agencies and other corporations. For many of these new grads, the internship or job that jumpstarts that career begins with an alumni connection.

Below are some highlights of the important roles alumni played in the School over the past year and potential ways for interested alumni to connect with students.

Classroom Connections

Many courses invite alumni guest speakers to share their experience and give students real-time and real-world information directly from professionals.

Assistant Professor Joseph Bayer teaches a Social Media Analytics course where he invites guest speakers to give students hands-on experience. Last semester, Bayer invited local business North Country Charcuterie and gave students one hour to perform analytics on the business and create potential social media campaigns to increase engagement.

During a fall 2017 visit to campus, alumna Shawn Ramsey (B.A. Journalism, 1984) guest lectured in a Strategic Message Design course and spoke with students in a smaller meet-and-greet about her experience working with FleishmanHillard and AT&T.

“I still remember graduating from Journalism School and looking for my first job. The economy then was just recovering from a recession and good jobs were scarce. I’ve never forgotten that experience. If I can help others by providing advice and insight on today’s marketplace for communicators, I’m happy to do so,” Ramsey said.

Two of the students who met with Ramsey followed up after her visit about opportunities, and she was able to further support them in pursuing career goals.

Recent alumnus Nick Aiello (B.A. Stratgic Communication, 2017) works for local digital marketing agency ForeFront Web. After graduation, he returned to speak in a class and also hired an intern through the school.

“After graduating, I felt like it was really important to share my experience with current communication students and see what I could do to bring new ideas into the program,” Aiello said.

In the senior capstone class for the Strategic Communication major, Public Communications Campaigns, each section of the course partners with a local company to complete a campaign that meets the company’s needs over the course of a semester.

Alumnus Cody Starcher (B.A. Strategic Communication, 2015) works with video game development company Multivarious. Starcher and his colleagues worked with a Spring 2018 campaigns course to create plans for increasing attendance for GDEX, the 1,500-person video game expo held each fall.

“Clients get multiple campaign proposals at the end of the semester, so they come away with a bank of content that helps them reach their communication goals,” said Mary Sterenberg, lecturer.

Giving Students Experience
Beyond working with classes, alumni interested in providing work experience to students can hire the school’s student-run public relations firm, The PRactice, or post internship and entry-level job positions for students.

The PRactice last year worked with more than 10 local organizations to produce work such as social media strategy, content and analysis, blog posts, media relations support and market research.

“We love to work with our alumni if their business has a problem we can solve, as our alumni connections continue to help us in many ways,” said Caroline Stephanou, student CEO of The PRactice.

College of Arts & Sciences Career Services offers FutureLink, a robust online system for sharing internship and employment listings. It also offers several internship and career fairs each year where employers can purchase booth space. Communication-related positions can also be sent to ohiostateprssa@gmail.com and bascaosu@gmail.com and journalism-related positions can be sent to spjohiostate@gmail.com to be posted to students directly through the school’s student organizations.

PRSSA networking with alumni

Speaking Through Student Orgs
The PRactice is one of the School’s five student organizations. Others include the Public Relations Student Society of America, the Black Advertising and Strategic Communication Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and Kappa Tau Alpha. These organizations regularly need guest speakers and alumni support.

“Networking is so important within the field of public relations and communications, and we encourage our members to reach out to alumni and connect with them on LinkedIn, invite them to get coffee and strengthen their network,” said Lily Ng, PRSSA president.

Shayla Baker, the president of BASCA, also commends the valuable assets that the School of Communication Development office has to offer. Both BASCA and PRSSA are always actively seeking alumni to come speak at their meetings, welcome their members to agency tours and serve as mentors for the members of their organization. 

Ben Campbell and Laura JacksonServing as Mentor

The School of Communication this year launched a LinkedIn page to encourage connections among alumni as well as between alumni and students. The Ohio State PRSSA chapter also runs a formal mentorship program with more than 50 students and 50 professional paired each year. PRSSA Alumni Relations Chair Ben Campbell supervised the 2017-18 program after his valuable experience the previous year.

“I would not be where I am today without a mentor, and it is so great to share your goals and have someone in our corner cheering you on along the way,” Campbell said.

Laura Jackson (B.A. Strategic Communiation, 2013) served as one of Campbell’s mentors, noting that “being a mentor to a group of potential young professionals is my way to give and to selfishly stay in touch with talent.”  

Alumni Committee

The School of Communication is also in the process of forming a School of Communication Advancement Committee. The goal is to help School Director Mike Slater advance issues essential to the strategic direction of the school, including an early focus on assisting The Lantern in how it responds to a changing journalistic environment. While the committee is still in formation, they hope to begin assisting Slater by fall 2018.

Alumni interested in connecting with the School or with students should consider the following opportunities:

·       meeting with students

·       speaking to classes or school organizations

·       providing funding for scholarships, equipment and other needs

·       connecting with students online and via email

·       serving on committees or in other more formal roles

·       sharing internship and job opportunities with fellow Buckeyes

Please email schofcomm@osu.edu with other questions.

Article written by Krista Bliumentalis