School of Communication to Intensify its Community Outreach

Brown bag attendees -- Picture by Adam Austin
Photograph by Adam Austin

By Adam Austin

Dr. Sam Jennings, an associate professor in the School of Communication, is teaming up with other determined professors to intensify the school’s community partnerships in order to better help students get jobs and internships..

Jennings wants to implement brown bag lunches where students, faculty and leaders of companies can sit and have informal conversations to help each other succeed. The plan is to begin with local companies around the Blacksburg and Christiansburg area and eventually expand beyond that.

According to Jennings, such brown bags are necessary because “students want a return on investment.”

“I feel like I’ve done my job when my students succeed,” Jennings said.

Jennings further explained that some companies do not believe graduates are completely prepared for the real world upon graduating.

“Companies say schools are too focused on research rather than actually applying the skills,” Jennings said.

Brown bag lunches are a great way to have free flowing conversation amongst professionals without an official agenda. Jennings put together this type of meeting last Wednesday along with a few other professors from the School of Communication from different concentrations.

In brainstorming the way forward, one of the professors in attendance, Dr. Bill Kennan, who is also the director of Radford University’s Military Resource Center, brought up the idea of creating a corporate advisory board that would have speakers meet with students and talk about how to better prepare themselves. He also raised the idea of a career prep class.  

Dr. Bill Kovarik, a professor in media studies with a concentration in journalism, who also serves as the faculty advisor for the SPJ student chapter, offered that while advertising jobs to students for companies within the community, we could enter into mutually beneficial partnerships. These would involve companies availing some of their resources such as time to speak to students.

Devin Schall, a member of the information technology department, proposed having a point person for the School of Communication to help students pick out internships rather than having to go through career services.

These are just some of the great ideas that were circulating in the room during the brown bag. As this idea of brown bags spreads and the crowd grows larger, one can only hope for better and better.

Others who attended the brown bag were, Dr. Matthew Smith, the director of the School of Communication, Dr. Matthew Turner, the school’s study abroad point person, Dr. Courtney Bosworth, the coordinator of the media studies program, and professor Betty Kennan, the internship coordinator.

Feb 2, 2017
School of Communication