The Winter Term course exposed the Fellows to different communications industries and promoted bonding among the first-year cohort.
Led by School of Communications faculty and staff members Hal Vincent and Alison Doherty, 23 first-year Communications Fellows participated in the Winter Term Fellows Experience course, traveling to Florida, touring communications companies, meeting with industry professionals and gaining insights into their future careers.
Vincent, a senior lecturer in strategic communications, prepared and taught a weeklong course on campus about the history of Florida, encouraging students to look beyond the tourism stereotypes. Doherty, assistant director of career services for the School of Communications, helped facilitate the program’s itinerary and logistics, and joined Vincent and the students during their travels to the Sunshine State.
Doherty said most of the first-year students already knew their respective majors but were still exploring specific industries of interest. The program offered them a unique opportunity to network while gaining a hands-on perspective of various industries.
“The course is offered as a way for students to explore careers and to build relationships as a cohort,” Doherty said. “It is considered one of the defining experiences of the Communications Fellows program.”
During their 10-day stay, the Fellows visited numerous companies, ranging from production studios to internal communications organizations and full-service PR agencies, and engaged in volunteer work with Mustard Seed of Central Florida, a nonprofit organization that provides clothing and home essentials to families that have endured hardship. The experience also provided time for the Fellows to visit the Pulse Nightclub Memorial, Clearwater Beach and Disney, where they grew closer as a cohort while discussing their individual perspectives and experiences on the places they visited.
Maddie Bauman, a first-year Fellow from Stilwell, Kansas, was drawn to the program for its small size, similarly-minded students, and The Fellows Experience, which she said did not disappoint.
Bauman shared that her time in Orlando and Tampa provided her with a glimpse of her future career and a deep history and appreciation of the state. She was grateful for the time spent with her cohort and the college and career advice from communications professionals.
Bauman also emphasized the significance of networking in the communications field and how this experience allowed her to connect with business professionals in their workplaces.
“So much of communications is about networking and getting to meet all of these incredible people,” Bauman said. “Down the road, I now have people to reach out to. That network is going to continue to grow. It was nice to see the bigger picture and what we’re working towards.”
Doherty observed that the program strengthened the bonds among the Fellows and allowed them to get to know each other better.
“They already had a semester together, but I still saw them come together as they visited new places, had daily bus chats and hosted a cookout,” Doherty said. “They gained the opportunity to connect to each other and to business professionals, which is incredibly valuable at this stage of their journey.”