Students explore Florida and the future of the communications industry

Thirty-two Communications Fellows toured 11 companies on a two-week trip to the Sunshine state, speaking with industry professionals, enjoying hands-on experiences, and exploring future job possibilities.

In January, 32 School of Communications students participated in the The Fellows Experience, a course that allowed first-year Communications Fellows to tour media companies, meet professionals in their fields, and learn more about future job opportunities in Florida. Students visited Tampa and Orlando, two major media markets, accompanied by Lecturer Hal Vincent and Internship Director Amber Moser.

While in Orlando, students had the opportunity to visit the Pulse nightclub memorial.

During the Tampa portion of the journey, students visited Diamond View Studios, Poynter Institute, PP+K, 22Squared and Nielsen. Vincent said this part of the experience is one of his favorites because he is able to show students places that gave him his start in the strategic communications industry.

“It’s so exciting for me to share an area that was so important in my life and that led me here to Elon,” Vincent said.

While in Orlando, students toured Adrenaline Films, WKMG-TV News 6,, Disney Parks Live Entertainment and Digital Brew.

The company visits allowed students to see various work environments and cultures. First-year student Olivia Parks said the Florida trip allowed her to better understand the job opportunities available to her after she graduates. “Touring various companies throughout Tampa and Orlando really opened my eyes to the many career possibilities under the umbrella of communications,” she said.

In addition to getting a behind-the-scenes look at these companies, students were able to job shadow professionals working in Orlando. The companies that invited Elon to complete job shadowing included Marketing for Change, Tupperware and Uproar PR.

Students speak with Helen Tatsis (right), director of analytics at 22Squared, an advertising agency with offices in Tampa.

While the travel and the company tours are certainly a focus of the course, students also explored historical and cultural issues such as immigration, politics, tourism and crime that have affected Florida and the country as a whole.

“I love how the Communications Fellows have the opportunity to be fully immersed for more than 10 days,” Vincent said. “They manage schedules and timelines and real responsibilities of being professional.”

Throughout the trip, students chronicled their experiences by posting to Facebook. This interactive assignment allowed students to not only reflect on their own experiences, but also comment and connect with their peers.

“WKMG this morning was my favorite place that we visited from all the places we’ve seen our entire trip, said Brandon Talton. “I don’t plan on being in news or journalism, but there was something about the environment that was so intriguing to learn about.”

Other students agreed, including Parks, who commented, “I’m not very interested in broadcast news either, but I agree that seeing the WKMG broadcast was definitely really cool.”

Students also demonstrate their experiences through class presentations, professional writing, and multimedia final projects all intended to serve as portfolio pieces to earn competitive internships and jobs. Here, Hayley Loftus and Mary Kate Douglas created a movie trailer to document their Florida experience.

“We are so fortunate as professors, staff and students that Elon has embraced the value of study-away experiences,” Vincent said. “Elon has made such a bold move to recognize how potentially transforming an experience like this is.”

Author Kyra O’Connor is a member of the 2023 class of Communications Fellows and traveled to Florida with The Fellows Experience class.