Senior communication studies major Anna Hoffman landed the kind of big-city internship students dream about: working in the Viacom offices in New York City.
Viacom is a New York-founded mass media company that handles television networks such as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1 and more. At Viacom, Hoffman serves as a research intern with Comedy Central and VH1’s Strategic Insights and Research teams. Hoffman’s responsibilities include gathering data, whether it is received from focus groups, surveys or other methods, to provide “a better picture of what’s going on under the surface.”
“My internship focuses mostly on the consumer insights side of research, which is all about knowing who your audience is and how your content and your brand fits into their lives,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said her Kent State University College of Communication and Information (CCI) education has prepared her with the necessary skills for her role at Viacom.
“Many aspects of my education in CCI – gathering information, using data to tell stories, knowing your audience before communicating with them – have been part of my classes since day one, so all of these skills that are absolutely essential for this job almost feel like second nature,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman’s day-to-day activities vary from researching Millennials and news consumption to the late-night talk show landscape and what consumers are watching.
At her internship, Hoffman is also gathering knowledge and information necessary for her honors thesis in communication studies, focusing on journalism and political satire.
“‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ are what inspired a lot of my research, so being in the place where it all started is an awesome experience,” Hoffman said.
“I always thought the saying ‘You’ll never work a day in your life if you do what you love,’ was a complete and absolute nonsense until I experienced it here everyday I walk in the doors,” Hoffman says. “It is literally my job to watch and research some of the greatest shows on television. How cool is that?”
Four College of Communication and Information (CCI) students, along with 20 other Kent State students, dedicated a large portion of their summer to Destination Kent State, the one-and-a-half-day advising and registration program for incoming freshmen. Destination Kent State allows these freshmen and their families to explore topics including: the differences between high school and college, navigating the university and properly preparing to be a college student.
CCI was represented by Amanda Bevington, senior interpersonal communication major; Chloe Ewing, junior applied communication major; Julia Kelley, junior public relations major; and Shawn Wilson, senior broadcast journalism major.
The student leaders took on the role of “Flashguides.” According to the Kent State website, Flashguides are part mentor, part ally, part cheerleader and part program organizer who participate in the program because they want to make a difference in the lives of new students.
Bevington and Ewing both shared their thoughts and feelings about being a 2015 Flashguide:
Q: Why did you decide to become a Flashguide?
Bevington: Being a Flashguide has always been a dream of mine! Weird right? Not for me. I absolutely love Kent State and want to contribute to making the best experience possible for all students. College has brought me and made me into so much more than I ever thought possible, and I want to help, encourage and support other students along their amazing journey! And to be honest, I’m not sure if there’s a better way to do it than Flashguiding!
Ewing: I knew I wanted to be a Flashguide when I came to my Destination Kent State, there was just something about the energy they brought and the connection they have with students. I wanted to be able to give that same experience to this incoming class and make sure they can learn to love Kent State as much as I do.
Q: What do you hope to inspire in freshmen?
Bevington: I hope that I inspire them to go outside of their comfort zone and try something new. College is the perfect time to challenge yourself and branch beyond your normal horizons, which is where the most learning takes place. I also hope that I inspire them to never give up. No matter how they got here, who supports them or who doesn’t, or what their past is like, this time is theirs and only theirs, and I don’t want them to ever give that up to anyone or for anything.
Ewing: I want freshmen to know that if high school wasn’t the experience they wanted like it was for me, they have the opportunity to make college what they want. I hope to see them get involved and find that group on campus that makes Kent their home.
Q: How did your major help you while being a Flashguide?
Bevington: My major couldn’t be any more perfect for this experience. Communication is part of my job 24/7, whether it’s reading the students or interpersonally interacting with them. I talk about how much I love my major every day with students because it’s relatable in so many ways. The ways I apply what I learn in the classroom are endless and it’s truly the best feeling.
Ewing: Communication helps me make that seamless connection with parents and students without it feeling forced. Communication Studies has helped me learn about myself and how to present my thoughts in the best way possible while still staying true to myself without crossing any boundaries.
Q: What was your favorite part about being a Flashguide?
Bevington: I absolutely loved making connections with people from all different walks of life. Seeing a student smile and feel like they belong at Kent State is the greatest feeling. And I would be silly not say that sharing my Kent State pride is one of my favorite parts too because I’m filled with it.
Ewing: My favorite part of being a Flashguide was talking to the parents. I loved getting asked questions about Kent, the faculty and the classes offered. Being able to give them a raw answer and them tell me they appreciate that means a lot since it’s coming from a person I just met. I want the parents to know that Kent is the right place to send their students and helping them ease that fear is my favorite.
Q: What was the most challenging part?
Bevington: The challenging part was constantly being “on stage.” Every action and word from a Flashguide is so powerful. I feel like wasn’t too much of an issue for me, but just being conscience of it is crucial and sometimes it’s easy to forget when you’re tired or having a bad day.
Ewing: The most challenging part would have to be learning when to rein in my sense of humor and my personal experiences. Communication Studies has helped me with that, but it’s still a challenge to know when the line has been crossed and not being able to read that on a person.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of being a Flashguide this past summer & what was your favorite memory?
Bevington: There were so many rewarding aspects of the Flashguiding job, but a few were seeing future Flashes leave Kent State on Day 2 feeling comfortable and excited in their new home. The other is that a few of the Flashguides I worked with I actually trained through the Peer Leadership Training Workshop, and it was amazing to see everything come full circle and see their growth as people and student leaders. Picking ONE favorite memory is nearly impossible, but I will always remember explaining to students and parents why my “follow me” was a toilet plunger. I want them all to “plunge into the world at Kent State.” It created a good laugh and was always a conversation starter.
Ewing: The most rewarding thing for me was talking to students in CCI and just giving them that validation of this is who we are, what we do and just seeing them get excited to start their majors. I have a few favorite memories, but I’d have to say my top two would be helping a student who was uneasy about her major coming into DKS and then talking to her about Comm Studies and her telling me the next day she changed to Public Comm. My second is when an aunt coming through asked if she could adopt me because of how awesome I made her experience at DKS and what a great representation I was of Kent State.
Kent State University Independent Films (KSUIF) is currently filming its fourth feature-length film – a romantic comedy called “Unlucky” – throughout Northeast Ohio, bringing student talent to the big screen.
A student organization at Kent State University, KSUIF creates professional video projects ranging from web series to music videos to feature-length films. Kent State University is one of three universities in the U.S. that allows students the opportunity to create feature-length films, said Ashley Newton, “Unlucky” associate producer and senior electronic media production major.
“Unlucky,” set to premiere in the spring of 2016, tells the story of an ill-fated college student who meets the girl of his dreams but is quickly separated from her. The main character, Sam, tries to find her again but not without facing a series of “unlucky” moments.
“At its core, ‘Unlucky’ is a comedy, but it is so much more than that,” President of KSUIF and Director for “Unlucky” Buddy Candela said. “It’s a romance movie, [it’s] an adventure/roadtrip sort of movie, it’s an espionage movie, it’s part horror movie, it’s basically every epic story rolled into one.”
Newton said it’s a laugh-out-loud kind of comedy that “truly resonates with our generation.”
The KSUIF production team – which includes students in the Feature Film Production course offered through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, students completing internships and volunteers – started filming “Unlucky” June 8. The cast and crew has been filming, editing and planning almost every day since, working anywhere between six to 14 hours a day.
“As filmmakers, this is the best experience we could have gotten from any college,” “Unlucky” Director and senior electronic media major Keegan Larwin said.
Traci E. Williams, associate lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Feature Film Production instructor, KSUIF faculty advisor and “Unlucky” executive producer, tells her students they are not being trained for a short project or a short film; she tries to create a real experience and teach students the stamina and professionalism that is required when producing a film.
“When I wake up, I can’t tell you what I will be doing that day, but I know I will be busy,” “Unlucky” Associate Producer and senior electronic media major Ashley Johnson said.
Newton said all students interested in getting involved in KSUIF, whether it’s for a short-term project or for a long-term board member position, are
“If you want to get involved, just reach out to the organization or contact us through social media, and we can almost always find something for someone to be involved in,” Newton said.
This spring, Adobe collaborated with Marvel to make the first-ever, student-illustrated Avengers comic powered by Creative Cloud. The limited-edition origin story comic will officially debut in July at the San Diego Comic-Con, where the students will get one-on-one portfolio interviews with Marvel pros.
“I went after this opportunity because I’ve always loved Marvel comics, and I use Adobe products every day,” Lewis said. “The chance to make a comic with these two companies is a dream come true.”
Students from around the world submitted their portfolios through Behance, a free, online Adobe platform that showcases creative work — garnering responses from 67 countries.
Chad Lewis, a graduate student in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University, is busy hammering out his version of Thor’s origin story for an upcoming MarvelAvengers comic.
In addition to Lewis, three other students will work with Marvel to illustrate the new comic using Adobe Creative Cloud and its new mobile apps, like Adobe Brush CC. Alexandria Huntington, of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco; Hayden Sherman, from the Rhode Island School of Design; and Emil Friis Ernst, from the Animation Workshop in Denmark, were officially selected for the opportunity.
“I learned about winning while I was grading student work for one of the classes I teach in the Kent State University School of Visual Communication Design,” Lewis said. “When I heard, I called my wife and my family. Then, I hugged my dog.”
Lewis says being able to work on a comic with Adobe and Marvel is a big deal because they lead the industry in their respective fields and are helping to explore the creative process.
“From Marvel, I’m getting the chance to work with writers and editors who I’ve grown up reading and enjoying,” he said. “From Adobe, I’m getting to work with technical experts who are masters at Adobe’s Creative Cloud and mobile applications.”
And Lewis hasn’t forgotten how he has learned this craft.
“As I create my comic, I’ll be depending on the foundations I’ve learned from the brilliant professors in Kent State’s VCD program,” Lewis said. “The materials I submitted for this contest are ones I’ve created throughout my graduate experience at Kent State, in classes like Character Design and Editorial Illustration. I just hope my involvement in a contest like this helps to spread the word about this amazing program.”
Was it a dream? Three weeks ago, I was in Dublin. Two weeks ago, I was in London. Just one week ago, I was in Barcelona. It certainly felt like a dream.
I’ve always wanted to study abroad. To be in another country and observe its culture is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. I finally got my chance through the Global Advertising and Public Relations course offered by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication this Spring. During the semester, I studied advertising and public relations in the United States and compared it to that in Dublin and London. After the semester, we packed up and traveled to those brilliant cities.
Every team had a focus and my team’s topic was Millennial marketing. Our blog, thenewishgen.com, featured Millennial-focused campaigns, Millennial traits, and overall guidelines for marketing to Millennials. I loved it. Millennials are such an important audience to reach and master reaching because we interact with advertising differently than previous generations. My team interviewed Millennial marketers stateside and overseas to compare the different strategies and tactics and learned so much about our generation.
In the spirit of taking full advantage of every opportunity, a group of friends and I decided to extend our two-week European experience another week and visit Barcelona. Best. Decision. Ever. The now three-week adventure opened my eyes to differences in European culture and differences in advertising here and there. The lessons I’ve learned stateside and overseas will follow me throughout my advertising career and my future adventures.
Dublin was never a must-see for me, but the city showed me why I was wrong. The cobblestone streets, friendly people and live music have changed my views. We walked almost everywhere and saw so much. Now, if I’m really being candid, living in a hostel was not ideal, and the weather was colder than I’d expected, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Being in Dublin was an incredible experience, and I can’t wait to go back.
Being in London was a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to visit and experience the famous London lifestyle. It definitely lived up to my expectations: a fast-paced, fashion-hub, tourist-filled city that reminded me of The Big Apple. We meet with some great agencies, and it really opened my eyes to the many work opportunities I hope to take advantage of one day.
Oh, sweet Barcelona. After so much traveling, I was ready to relax. Barcelona’s picture-perfect beauty took me by surprise. It took about an hour to get to the heart of the city, but once we reached it and looked up at La Sagrada Familia, a wave a relaxation and relief came over me. The week was spent walking around the city, visiting El Museu Picasso and relaxing on the beach. I even visited my uncle in Madrid for a day.
In Dublin and London, we visited some really incredible agencies and made some great connections. Barcelona was the perfect city to relax and watch the sunset on the beach. I became closer with some of my classmates and those friendships will carry on. My time in Europe was a dream come true, and I can’t wait for the next adventure.
School of Journalism and Mass Communication freshman Hana Barkowitz worked on her first political campaign when she was 16 years old. As a high school student in Pittsburgh, she decided she wanted to help President Obama get reelected in 2012.
Barkowitz was the second-youngest member of the Obama For America team in Pennsylvania, and she served as an organizing fellow. She went through special training and organized phone banks, canvassing events and voter registrations.
“I loved the lifestyle, I loved the people and working for a good cause,” Barkowitz said. “I was 16; I couldn’t vote. This was the only thing I could do to get this guy elected.”
Then, the summer before her senior year of high school, Barkowitz moved to Brooklyn to work on Bill de Blasio’s New York City mayoral campaign. Barkowitz said she’d like to move to New York one day, and as a “true progressive reformer,” de Blasio was supporting many causes she felt passionate about.
Barkowitz enjoyed campaigning directly with de Blasio throughout her time in New York while doing the same kind of phone bank and canvass work she did during the Obama campaign.
“I was all ready very interested in politics, and that experience just verified that’s what I wanted to do. It’s hard, it’s long days. It’s a young person’s game, that’s what they call it.”
Because of this experience, she was able to meet Bill Clinton and Cynthia Nixon, among other “VIPs.”
“Bill’s just as charismatic as you’d expect him to be,” Barkowitz said. “I was just so star struck. He remembered my name from the first time I saw him to the last time I saw him. He remembered I was from Pittsburgh, too, so it was pretty cool.”
Now, three years later as a freshman public relations major, Barkowitz has been elected the 2015-2016 president of the Kent State College Democrats after only being involved in the organization for one semester.
Barkowitz was on the radar of the College Dems before she stepped foot on campus as a student. Previous president Schad Dalton reached out to Barkowitz on Facebook to encourage her to get involved, even in an executive board position, right away.
It was the State of the Union address meeting in January that really drew her into the organization, though.
“It was incredible watching this guy I worked to get elected go on TV and see him talk,” Barkowitz said. “Being around people who supported him too was a really cool feeling. I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’”
Within one month of getting involved in College Dems, Barkowitz was promoted to a membership director position, and later on in the semester, she was promoted again to acting president.
“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Barkowitz said. “It’s crazy, and after everything that’s happened this year, I feel ready to meet next year head-on. Being a PR major has definitely helped me through this.”
Barkowitz said her training in public relations classes, as well as the support of JMC faculty members like former CIA Senior Intelligence Service Executive and current PR Assistant Professor Stephanie Smith, has prepared her to take College Democrats to the next level at Kent State next year, especially going into a campaign year.
“Good PR is really going to help us let people know about our image and know who we are,” Barkowitz said. “I think everyone should be interested in politics at our age. It’s so important, and people don’t realize that. This is our future just as much as anyone else’s, so it shouldn’t just be the older generations caring about politics.”
Let me just start off and say that Gini Dietrich, keynote speaker, was amazing. She opened up her presentation talking about Hannah Montana – I mean, Miley Cyrus – and I was instantly drawn in. Dietrich offered advice on how to get your clients to understand the process of public relations and that it takes time. Her presentation was centered on the idea of how “spin sucks,” which is based off her blog and book. The points she made about creating a campaign excited me because my PR classes have hammered the idea of strategic thinking in my head.
I also enjoyed Mark W. Smith’s presentation. Even though his presentation was about how The Washington Post uses its social media, I was still able to apply some of his ideas to my personal social media accounts. I loved his point about how you should deliver on promises instead of trying to trick people. People want to be able to see something of themselves in whatever you are delivering. I also attended his student-only session, and he was so humble. He thoroughly answered all of our questions, and it was great to be able to pick his brain.
I cannot wait to apply their advice to my future career as a PR professional. YouToo was so uplifting and inspiring.
Answering student questions for the College of Communication and Information at Kent State