Communications Fellows head to Florida, visit media organizations

Eighteen students from Elon University’s Communications Fellows program participated in a 10-day trip in the Sunshine State, touring communications companies and meeting with industry professionals.

Eighteen Communications Fellows traveled to Florida in Jaunary to tour media organizations, including WTSP 10 News, Tampa Bay's CBS station. Photos courtesy of Hal Vincent
​As part of the Winter Term course “The Fellows Experience,” 18 communications students traveled to Florida in January to visit with nearly a dozen media organizations. The 10-day trip included opportunities to tour a variety of communications industries as well as interact with seasoned professionals.

The Communications Fellows—14 of them first-year students—kicked off the trip with a tour of WTSP 10 News, Tampa Bay’s CBS station, and stayed to watch its noon newscast. Over the next week, the students visited marketing and advertising agencies ChappellRoberts, PP+K, Pyper Young, Inc and Spark, and production companies CMR, Diamond View Studios and Bluewater Media. The Elon group also stopped by The Nielsen Company, a global information and media organization, and toured the Tampa Theatre, a historic landmark in downtown Tampa.

In addition to the company tours and educational sessions, the students also participated in a media writing seminar at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a global leader in journalism. Celebrated writing coach Roy Peter Clark led the informative session, discussing news reporting, sentence structure and grammar.

Along with the professional development opportunities, students also volunteered at Metropolitan Ministries, Tampa’s largest nonprofit organization that provided more than 1.1 million meals in 2015 to individuals in need. The students assisted on Martin Luther King Jr. Day with the holiday’s food preparation, organizing, washing and cutting vegetables and meats for upcoming meals.

On their last day in Florida, students met with members of Disney World's public affairs and communications teams.
​The trip concluded with a stop at Disney World’s corporate offices to meet with members of its public affairs and communications teams. Following the employees’ presentations, students broke away for a free day in Disney’s theme parks.

As part of their class assignment, Steven Lannum ’18 and Joey Gizzi ’18 created a recap video highlighting their experiences in Florida.

“To study the diverse cultural, social and economic landscape of Florida and Tampa Bay from recorded history to the modern times in the classroom, and then to actually experience it in-person is a unique experience that Elon offers,” said Hal Vincent, lecturer in the School of Communications and faculty director of Live Oak Communications. “Students were able to immerse in the communications business and social issues affecting a region, the nation, and really the world. And to be able to also give back at Metropolitan Ministries, after we took so many great lessons away, was the highlight.”

Ashley Pinney, associate director of corporate relations in the School of Communications, also accompanied Vincent and the students in Florida. Associate Professor Naeemah Clark, director of the Communications Fellows program, helped coordinate the trip’s logistics.

Students volunteered at Metropolitan Ministries and prepared food for meals served on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
​“A lot of the students are still figuring out what they want to do and who they want to be after graduation. The company visits allowed students to ask professionals firsthand what it is like working in specific industries,” Pinney said. “Students asked great questions about the soft and hard skills needed to be successful in an industry and the best way for one to get their foot in the door. Hopefully, too, the students made some great contacts and will keep in touch with them to ask further career advice.”

The Communications Fellows who traveled to Florida included: juniors Caroline Patterson and Jenna Rohde, sophomores Gizzi and Lannum, and first-year students Gabrielle Beaman, Lindsey Case, Heather Deiner, Amber Dunn, Lillian Engel, David Flynt, Ashley Follenweider, Sam Grabenstein, Alex Hager, Alex Mancuso, Carter Rayburn, Fletcher Rowe, Felicia Salden and Sabrina van der Gracht.

Rowe, a strategic communications major, chronicled his experiences in a blog post titled “10 Things I Learned from My 10 Day Trip to Florida.”