The 36th annual Media Day at UWG will take place on March 8 in the Campus Center Ballroom. Media Day has become a great tool for Mass Communications majors to connect with employers in their field. It is an all day event that consists of different sections in order to provide the best day for UWG alumni, students, faculty and visitors to come together, learn and network.
“Media Day was established by Dr. Chester Gibson, emeritus professor to bring media and communications professionals to campus to network with current students,” said Dr. Bradford Yates, Mass Communications professor at UWG. The main purpose of Media Day is for students to be able to network with business professionals in order to possibly obtain internships and job opportunities. Although Mass Communications is an extensive major, it is a highly competitive field. Being able to attend an event to network with alumni and other business professionals helps students become aware of opportunities and get their foot in the door.
As the amount of Mass Communication majors rises, Media Day has experienced a rise in attendance. “Student turnout typically eclipses 100 students,” said Dr. Yates. “And recently has been averaging about 120-125 students.” Media Day is a day for past UWG students to pay it forward to the school that molded them into the business professionals they have become.
Even though Media Day occurs in the Spring semester, discussions and meetings take place all school year. The faculty is on a rotating system for chair and co-chair. Each faculty member serves two years as co-chair then two-years as chair. This system is set up so every member can have the opportunity to take lead but planning for media day is a collaborative effort. This year, Professor Christopher Renaud is serving as the Chair and Dr. T. Randahl Morris as co-chair.
The first event of Media Day is a panel discussion. Every year the panel discusses different topics that relate to Mass Communications. “The working title for the panel discussion is Turning Points’,” said Renaud. “There are certain things that the panel discussion covers every year. Most essentially, there is a lot of advice for students about how to prepare for and how to comport themselves in their first media related jobs.”
The panelists change every year and consist of many different business professionals who represent every concentration of Mass Communications. This year, the panel is; Shannon McCaffrey, Editor of Enterprise News Team at the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Eugenia Johnson (PR Director for The Garner Circle PR), Allyssa A Lewis (Animator, Recruiter and Consultant), James Schiller Paul (Content Creator & Brand Strategist at Schiller Productions, Brigitte Mabry (Manager, Content Logistics at Turner Entertainment) and the Mediator J. Bruce Hildebrand (former print and radio Journalist).
Following the panel discussion is a networking session. “We really consider the networking session to be the most useful part of the day for students,” said Renaud. “Those happen in the atrium part of the student center. It is always nice to see students dressed and presenting themselves professionally to potential employers.” Many of the professionals are UWG alumni who had a great experience at Media Day seek to help students from their alma mater receive job opportunities. The other business professionals who are in attendance, were invited by the chair of Media Day. Some professionals enjoy the event so much that they attend every year.
Next, is the Honors luncheon and the keynote speaker. During this luncheon, everyone in attendance has a chance to listen to the Keynote speaker who, this year, is 1999 UWG alumni and recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award Shelitha Hurd. Hurd is a two time Emmy Award Winner and News Producer for WSB-TV. This luncheon was created to honor the outstanding Mass Communications students who go above and beyond in their field. “We have several categories of awards,” said Renaud. “The Excellence Awards are given to Mass Communications seniors who demonstrate outstanding academic development and professional development performance in their respected field. Each concentration will be honoring a student.” The recipients of the Excellence Awards are chosen by faculty after submitting an application.” The other awards that are presented are, The Distinguished Service Award, Gordon Watson Award, academic achievement award and Professional Development Award.
After the Alumni are done giving back for the day, the last event is the Alumni Social is at The Border, a local Mexican restaurant. It is an informal social event for the working professionals. “Media day is not just an event for working professionals to pay it forward to students,” said Renaud. “It is also a community event for those alumni who have very busy schedules and don’t get the chance to spend time together.”
The faculty in charge of Media Day hope that students leave the event with a good sense of how it is to work in Mass Communications and meet people who can help them further their career.
“We want students to leave with a sense of purpose, inspiration and possibility,” concluded Renaud.