Looking Back to See Ahead

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Looking back on my college experience – specifically within the Communication Department – the first thing I thought: One door closes, another opens. As college closes, I’ll walk across a stage, grab my degree and go out into the real world as just another face in the crowd. However, while I’m closing this door, it will never fully close for me, and thanks to my work at UWGB I’m not just another pretty face in the crowd.

The Communication program at UWGB is outstanding. Our professors have incredible real world experience and are extremely talented at sharing that knowledge with each student in the classroom. (No, this is not just an attempt to brown-nose for a good reference letter nor is this any sort of rose-colored, sentimental nonsense… I MEAN it!)

A Nobody from Nowhere?
When I enrolled at UWGB, I was a young pup from a small town no one ever heard of. In my brief time here I’ve learned the skills, theories and so much more to put myself into an excellent position upon graduation: In my time here I’ve had opportunities to co-host – and produce – a radio show on one of the biggest sports stations in Wisconsin; I’ve had opportunities to write for an upstart sports website; I’ve had opportunities to work at a TV news station and been part of one of the top-ranked broadcast crews for ESPN.

In addition, I’ve met many wonderful people including alumni, professors, people in the field and of course, my fellow students. Now, I’d be lying if I said that, looking back, all that stuff wasn’t really that cool because it definitely was. And I would like to think that part of the reason all these opportunities fell into my lap was my charming personality but realistically, it’s because of the Comm Department, its people and all the resources available.

Game Changer:  High School Film Crew?
When I enrolled, the first thing I did was look for a job – it was a life-changer. I applied at the Kress as an intramural ref and at the Green Bay Phoenix Event Staff. I knew I wanted to be involved in sports so on the job application I noted that I was part of the varsity film crew in High School. Since I was going to major in Communication at UWGB, “High School Film Crew” was enough of a resume enhancer and job qualifier to land me a gig filming soccer, volleyball and basketball for online broadcasts.

As a sophomore, we scored the highest grade in the Horizon League on ESPN3 and ESPNU. It was a great resume builder, but one of the most important skills I learned from that job was networking. In pre-and-post-game media sessions, I’d try to introduce myself to members of the Green Bay sports media. My focus was to build relationships and expand my industry network for the future. It eventually helped me get a job with CBS affiliate WFRV-TV and later, an internship with Sports Talk Radio: WDUZ.

While there is no formal class on How to Network, each and every class at UWGB lays the groundwork. Pre-requisite classes such as Introduction to Public Address helped me get over the fear of standing in front of people and telling them, What’s What; Small Group Communication laid the groundwork for running a meeting and interacting in small group settings.

One common denominator in every Comm class is group work. (Oh, how I hated group projects, but if you don’t network, or only work with friends, or sit in the corner and wait to find the group that doesn’t have enough people, odds are you won’t do as well in this school. Expanding your networks and finding the kind of people you work best with will go a long way in the future.) And, don’t be afraid to join PRSSA! Even if – like me – you’re not a Public Relations student, PRSSA will help you expand your network and get a head start on LinkedIn – which will become one of your best friends.

I’m a “J” Aquarian… You?
One of my favorite jokes in the Comm Department is: “We may not know everything, at least we know our Myers-Briggs score.” Professor Clampitt drilled it hard into our heads how important the MB is; it got to the point where some of us thought he owns stock in the testing website. Some people use horoscopes to justify odd behaviors; ‘GB Comm students use their Myers-Briggs score:

In one, spirited classroom discussion someone said, “I can’t believe you did that! That’s such a J thing.”

The J thing probably makes no sense to an outsider, but every single person in that room looked, laughed and agreed. While it may seem like some high-faulting, academic nonsense, Myers-Briggs is much more than just a score on personality test. It speaks to the comradery that goes with being a Comm student at UWGB. We know the score; we stick together; we’re bonded – especially in Cases and Social Media Strategies.

I would not be where I am today without the amazing people in this department. Late-night group meetings; networking with professionals; all the new friendships – even the little things like enjoying a nice, cold drink with classmates after a particularly rough patch of projects and exams all provide great memories for me. While my academic career might be over, I see the door to the Comm Department never closing. Our Communication Department has blown the doors wide open to the world, creating opportunity after opportunity not just for me, but nearly every student in the program. When someone graduates with a Comm Degree from ‘GB, they’re not just another face in the crowd. It’s happened to many before me; it’s happening to me right now.

I know it will continue for YOU.

December Graduate Eric Fischer is opening doors, expanding his massive network and weighing new opportunities. We miss him already, and UWGB’s door will never, fully close for him.

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One Comment to “Looking Back to See Ahead”

  1. thecommvoice says:

    A Real Life, REAL Story… Well done.

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