The week of Apr. 9 marks the ninth annual Alumni Week for Muhlenberg’s Media and Communication department. The week is filled with a plethora of alumni coming back to Allentown to offer their knowledge and insight to current ‘Berg students in the department hoping to break into different industries.
Alumni are invited to speak during different class times and have luncheons and dinners with students who are looking to network. “Students who really take advantage of the opportunities available benefit in multiple ways,” said Dr. Sue Curry Jansen, Professor of Media and Communication.
“Students, especially those seeking internships or entering the job market, who take full advantage of these learning opportunities can have an extra edge on the competition,” said Jansen. “Some alums work in companies that are looking for interns. Sometimes alums do interviews for internships during alumni week and occasionally even interview for jobs. But all alums have been willing to offer advice, share contact information, and give our students a chance when new opportunities arise.”
The wide-ranging opportunities are not just for the students. Jansen recalls some of her favorite moments of previous alumni weeks were during visits from former students. “I always learn a lot from [alumni], and find it uniquely gratifying to be a student of my former students for a little while.”
“Students … who take full advantage of these learning opportunities can have an extra edge on the competition.”
She remembered a specific instance regarding a former student who scarcely spoke during class. “It is rewarding, and in its way funny too, or at least ironic, when someone who never spoke in class as a student, finds a career in talk radio and comes back and seamlessly holds a class in thrall for 40 minutes,” said Jansen.
Another perk of alumni in different professional fields sharing their knowledge with the Muhlenberg community is hearing firsthand about what Jansen describes as a “digital revolution” within the industry.
“It is a rapidly changing field. Media and communication, along with computer science, are ground zero of the digital transformation of contemporary life,” Jansen said. “Many of our alums are on the frontlines. They come prepared to share knowledge of the latest innovations in their specialties.”
Alumni Week in the Media and Communication department should not be a turn off for non-majors currently enrolled in classes that will have visitors.
“Our alums go in many different directions, not just in the media or film industry.” Jansen explained. “We always make an extra effort to invite alums working in a range of different fields so that students, especially first year students and sophomores can see the range of possibilities open to them.” She cited examples from educational programs, non-profits, government agencies, law, corporate communications, publishing, and library studies as previous speaker’s industries.
Overall Jansen wants students to make the most of the campus hosting the special guests.
“Graduation may seem like it’s a very long time away,” said Jansen. “But internships come much sooner, so your professional socialization should start now.”
One perfect example she shared was of a student taking advantage of the different programs was during one of the first alumni weeks Jansen recollected. “After Brian Teta, then a producer on the David Letterman Show gave his talk Donald Adler, a freshman, went up to him and said, ‘I want your life’ and asked, ‘How can I get it?’ Brian became a kind of mentor. Now, Donald is living his dream, working in television.”
The Media and Communication department at Muhlenberg was the first to officially have an alumni week. Whether or not other departments at the College see Media and Communication as a role model for their own alumni weeks Janson thinks holding such an event “just makes sense for everybody”. Her one piece of advice to make the event a hit: food. “You can’t do Muhlenberg without food.”