Audio story by Taylor Hughes
Mass Comm Week 2016
By: Jennifer Alvord
SAN MARCOS, TX – Mass Communication Week is a four-day conference held every year in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. The conference invites professionals throughout different mass communication disciplines – journalism, public relations, advertising, digital media innovation and electronic media – to speak to students about the industry and give advice about how students should prepare for their future careers.
This year, Mass Comm Week has more than 35 events with 35-plus speakers, including Nick Whitaker from Google News Lab, Virginia Alves – who managed the Rio 2016 Olympics social media – Elaine Aradillas from PEOPLE Magazine, Justin Johnson from Facebook, and many other industry professionals.
Senior Lecturer Jon Zmikly thinks that students should attend Mass Comm Week because they get to see things they learn in the classroom applied in the “real world.” “There are a ton of reasons why students should go to Mass Comm Week,” Zmikly said. “Students get an opportunity to hear stories, ask questions, get advice as to what employers are looking for and to see where they could be in five to 10 years.”
Mass Comm Week is a chance for students to get involved and learn more about their intended profession. Throughout the week, students can attend speaker panels, participate in workshops, visit career and student organization fairs, and network with industry professionals.
For the past few years, students have been heavily involved in the planning and execution of Mass Comm Week. This year, an internship-like system was implemented to help students gain experience. Students had the option of joining the social media team, public relations team, journalism team or photography team to showcase their skills and build their resumes.
According to Senior Lecturer Beth Clark, Mass Comm Week was started over 25 years ago by Dr. Steven Beebe. Beebe created the conference for both the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Communication Studies departments, but eventually became big enough to split. Comm Studies now has their own conference in the spring semester, while SJMC’s is in the fall.
The amount of speakers that have recently graduated from the program really impressed Dr. Cindy Royal. “The fact we had so many recent graduates speaking about their personal experiences of getting a job and their first year on the job,” Royal said. “I felt that was particularly helpful.”
Virginia Alves is a recent graduate of Texas State and spoke during Mass Comm Week. Alves had the opportunity of working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during the 2016 Olympics as a member of the social media team. Alves said that being being a member of the Rio 2016 team was one of the most incredible, yet insane, experiences she’d ever had. “I would literally be sitting at lunch ignoring everyone around me because I was always on my phone tweeting for the Olympics. THE OLYMPICS!” Alves said. “It was hectic, but it was definitely one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.”
Dr. Royal was also amazed with the number of students engaging on social media during Mass Comm Week. “We had 3,300 tweets just last week using the hashtag #MCWeek16 – that’s a lot of engagement,” Dr. Royal said. “You could really tell that our students were getting into it and participating.”
At the end of the week, the conference closes with a networking session where students have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the professionals from the panels. Senior Victoria Whitwell thinks that the networking event is extremely beneficial to students after attending panels. “Network and Chill is a great way of attaching a story to the speakers,“ Whitwell said. “It’s amazing how we all begin on different journeys and then all come to the destination in the field of mass communication.”