What Elon communications majors, alumni took away from a national media industry convention

The 2016 NABJ and NAHJ Annual Convention and Career Fair in Washington, D.C., brought together nearly 4,000 current and aspiring media professionals, including four Elon University students and seven alumni.

Four students and seven graduates of the School of Communications attended the 2016 NABJ and NAHJ Annual Convention and Career Fair, a joint conference supported by membership organizations representing black and Hispanic journalists. Hosted Aug. 3-7 in Washington, D.C., the event drew nearly 4,000 media professionals and students.

Several Elon University students and alumni attended in this year’s NABJ and NAHJ Annual Convention and Career Fair in Washington, D.C. Pictured (from left) are Erin Turner ’15, G’16, K. McKay ’17, Brandon Marshall ’12, Atoria Mills ’17, Jasmine Turner ’15, Alex Ofori ’17, Danielle Deavens ’16, Mariam Rosales ’17 and Nagatha Tonkins, director of internships and assistant professor.
​​Among those in attendance were Elon University students K. McKay ’17, Atoria Mills ’17, Alex Ofori ’17 and Mariam Rosales ’17, accompanied by Nagatha Tonkins, director of internships and assistant professor in the School of Communications. All four students are majoring in journalism, including Ofori, who was recognized at a NABJ workshop last spring.

“The conference was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me as a young, budding journalist,” said McKay, noting that she networked with representatives from several media outlets she grew up reading and watching. She added that attending informative workshops and meeting with seasoned journalists “reminded me that, with the skills Elon’s prepared me with, I’ll be ready next May to explore my bright future in the field I love.”

Rosales echoed McKay’s sentiments, explaining that the conference put her professional goals, and how she’ll achieve them, in perspective.

“The networking opportunities at the conference were insane,” Rosales said. “I left with so many connections that, who knows, one day might help me land that top market job. This experience has helped me start planning for life after graduation. Before the conference I had an idea of what I needed to do but now I have more of a game plan to make sure that I am prepared to apply for a job as a news reporter.”

Tonkins joins the four panelists for her internship session at the NABJ/NAHJ convention. Pictured (from left) are Tonkins, Seldric Blocker of NBC Universal, Zuri Berry of The Boston Herald, Karin Caifa of CNN Newsource Washington, and Yasmine Arrington ’15 of Hager Sharpe Public Relations.
​Several Elon alumni currently working in the communications field attended the conference, including Yasmine Arrington ’15, Danielle Deavens ’16, Brandon Marshall ’12, Zora Stephenson ’15, Erin Turner ’15, G’16, Jasmine Turner ’15 and Kanree Wright ’14.

Erin Turner, a 2016 graduate of Elon’s Interactive Media program, also participated in the NABJ/NAHJ Student Project, a highly competitive program where she worked with the convention’s public relations team. She was one of about 30 students selected nationwide for the program.

Turner called her experience “one that I will never forget,” adding that she helped produce and coordinate interviews with celebrities such as Sanaa Lathan, Nischelle Turner and Nate Parker. She also assisted with the coordination of a press conference with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“The public relations mentors were amazing and pushed us to our limits both professionally and personally,” Turner said. “What made this experience so valuable was the fact that the mentors equipped us with the tools needed for success but allowed us to take the lead to further develop our public relations skills.”

​In addition to accompanying Elon students, Tonkins moderated a convention workshop titled “Rising to the Top: Getting your Internship Application Noticed,” where professionals and former interns shared their personal experiences as well as best practices for succeeding at an internship. Arrington, currently an Education Fellow at Hager Sharp, a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., served as one of the session’s four panelists.

“I was so excited to see our students and alumni at this convention,” said Tonkins. “They took advantage of every opportunity to learn new skills, network and to experience the largest job fair in the country for journalists, PR practitioners and other media related professionals. Companies such as NBC Universal and CBS were recruiting for next summer’s interns, and employers were hiring on the spot; and we were there!”

Brooke Barnett, associate provost for inclusive community and professor of communications, was also in attendance and twice served as a conference panelist. She participated in sessions titled “Narrative Change in Entertainment and the Media” and “So You Think You Want to Teach? A Conversation and Q&A with Seasoned Educators.” The former discussed how the media and entertainment industries predominantly portray people and communities of color, while the later session addressed what seasoned educators wished they knew before beginning their teaching careers.

About the National Association of Black Journalists

An advocacy group established in 1975 in Washington, D.C., NABJ is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation, and provides career development as well as educational and other support to its members worldwide.

About the National Association of Hispanic Journalists

NAHJ is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists.