Intern Spotlight: HR in Communication Studies

HR-ImageThe way Human Resources ties IMC into their organization is rather unique. In Human Resources, the objective is not to sell the organization’s brand, but instead to help each individual in an organization focus on their personal branding. Individuals can continuously improve their communication skills and concurrently be efficient in their work together.

Julia George is a senior at UNCW, graduating in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. During the months of May-August 2015, she completed a Human Resources internship through the Communication Studies Department.

Interviewer: What were the steps you took when applying for an internship through the Communication Studies Department?

Julia: During the Summer 2015 semester, I applied through the Communication Studies Internship Program for a position in Human Resources. This was incidental to my career, given my past and present course load made it clear my future was in this field. A Communication Studies internship entails researching a desired position and agency, interviewing with the targeted agency and supervisor, and approving this internship through Dr. Bulger- the faculty member in charge. My internship through the Communication Studies Department enabled me to complete a three-credit course, completing the correct amount of hours at the desired agency.

Interviewer: What were your duties as an intern?

Julia: The internship gave me glimpses into the everyday tasks of the Human Resources. During my time at UNCW’s Human Resources Department, I practiced co-facilitating retreats, managing social media, and marketing aspects of HR. After I completed my internship with the Human Resources Department, I was offered a part-time job. The experience I gained through the internship program and courses at UNCW, I am now able to practice those skills as a part-time employee at Human Resources.

Julia came across the Human Resources internship during a Communication Studies course, taught by Dr. Brunson. The Intercultural Dialogue course required students to complete an out-of-class facilitation. Molly Nece, the Professional Development Coordinator in HR at UNCW spoke to Julia’s class about facilitation. Julia used her interpersonal skills and networking capabilities to learn about and purse the HR internship, through Molly Nece.

535934_410333185791421_6763646625442744694_nJulia’s daily tasks as a staff member in Human Resources include: development of job aids for facilitations, assistance with retreats, attendance of all meetings, research and collection of data, and marketing HR through social media channels. She manages the social media channels for the Employee Training and Professional Development program called Dare to Learn Academy. This task correlates to the Professional Development Program and markets the five important factors for strengthening one’s personal brand – serving, leading, innovating, being resourceful, and growing. This program focuses on helping the faculty and administration across campus tap into their strengths and weaknesses, through group practices and self-evaluations, for a better understanding of how to interact in the office. The five factors of Dare to Learn Academy are marketed through Facebook and the Dare to Learn catalogue.

Interviewer: What have you learned as an employee vs. an intern?

Julia: When you are an intern, you are at a transitional phase from applying what you’ve learned at UNCW to a professional workplace. You start with smaller tasks, which help you learn how important every detail is in projects. It is okay if you make a mistake, your supervisors understand you are in a learning process. As an employee, you are trained for the position; deadlines are more serious and making mistakes are not an option. Having the practice from an internship prepares you for this mindset and decreases the stress of whether you are completing a project correctly or incorrectly.

10479958_10153111690567474_8095338665732746440_nThe interview with Julia clearly shows the benefits and advantages from completing an internship during a college career. Not only is there personal growth and development, there is a clear correlation to success in future career endeavors. The opportunity to develop one’s personal brand and create network connections with professionals in the desired field, is invaluable.

To find more information about internships visit: Career Center

-Jonathan Callahan, Erin Fouhy, Julia George, Joseph Hines, and Sarah Suggs

Story Telling or Story Selling?

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 1.04.13 PMTake a moment to think about your home. What comes to mind? Think far beyond the floors, ceilings, and furniture. Whether it is a dorm room, an apartment, the structure forcing you to have a mortgage loan over the next thirty years, or simply the place you grew up with a white picket fence, each one harnesses specific memories and has its own unique story to share. The thoughts of an apartment could evoke memories of college life, living with roommates, throwing parties instead of studying for finals, and that insanely uncomfortable futon in the living room. On the other hand, a childhood home could conjure feelings of comfort and security when thinking about playing football with dad or mom’s fresh-baked apple pie.

As an intern for a local real estate agent, Patrick Gahagan, who is a UNCW Communication Studies alum, I am learning narrative is at the core of selling homes. Each prospective buyer has his or her own story, which encompasses the place they currently live, the place they grew up, and thus influences their ideal home. One of the biggest challenges a real estate agent faces is gaining a solid understanding of each client’s needs for a new home and finding the perfect place for them. Are they yearning for a cozy place that reminds them of their childhood home? Would an apartment that reminds them of their college days when life was far less stressful be best? Or does the buyer want to keep his or her past homes out of mind and find something new? Buyers must be able to see themselves in a home before they can begin to consider taking out a loan that could keep them in debt for 30 years. Therefore, the real estate agent must craft a story to sell homes.

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Given real estate agents work for commission, it is critical to master the art of story selling. Professional photos with the perfect lighting, and statistics regarding value and square footage, combine with the home tour to compose a narrative for each home on the market. In real estate, photos, stats, and the home’s structure are all rhetorical tools. A real estate agent’s job is to combine these rhetorical elements using the appropriate language to create a powerful story that will attract prospective buyers. The way in which a real estate agent uses rhetoric to frame a home essentially makes or breaks the sell. Sounds like marketing, doesn’t it? If the real estate agent composed an impactful narrative for the home, the buyers will likely proceed to make an offer and the agent is on their way to getting paid.

In the world of real estate, stories are not simply told, but sold.

By: Meleah, Amanda, Kendall, Luke, and Dan

Communication Studies At Work

College students are told time and time again just how important it is to have an internship while in college. UNCW student Aki Suzuki, a senior Communication Studies major, offered to speak with us about her Marketing internship at Live Oak Bank, a Small Business Association lender  here in Wilmington, NC.

liveoakbankInterviewer: What are your daily tasks?

Aki: Videography: Helping set up shoots with lighting and camera equipment, taking photos, organizing footage, editing photos and videos, and creating simple title graphics.

Interviewer: What do you want to gain from this experience?

Aki: I hope to gain professional videography skills and the ability to thrive and adapt to an adult work environment. Finally I hope to gain the knowledge to competently function as part of an organization/ corporations marketing team to enhance a brand and use my creative resources to continue advancing it.

Interviewer:  What coursework is relevant to your internship?

Aki: As I am interning in the marketing department and helping create promotional materials for Live Oak, the IMC related classes are relevant to my experience. Integrated Marketing theories, as well as course projects and discussions have prepared me to understand how the bank approaches attracting borrowers to each of its verticals. The videography department is responsible for video and photography related products. Videography centered courses like COM 380 have also been instrumental to my understanding of cameras, the elements of lighting and also editing techniques.

Internships are an excellent way for students to engage in applied learning but also a way to get their brand out into the real world. Aki has learned the importance of a consistent brand identity, especially when looking for jobs and internships. Aki demonstrated this during our interview.

akisuzuki_000Interviewer: What can you offer to Live Oak Bank?

Aki: I can offer Live Oak Bank a willing and open mind. Although I do not possess any outstanding skills, as a young and determined student I am engaged in learning and committed to contributing in any way that I can. My youth allows me to maintain a fresh perspective and enthusiastic attitude for any opportunities they allow me.

Interviewer: How does your brand as a Communication Studies major compare with other interns at Live Oak?

Aki: I find that I fit well into my niche in the marketing department because Communication Studies deals overwhelmingly with how to effectively incorporate messages being sent  through various channels which is precisely what any company’s marketing department hopes to cover.  I do find myself at a slight disadvantage when it comes to understanding the financial ins and outs of the bank; but like any communication studies major I am well versed in being an assertive researcher and curious verbal investigator to understand anything I do not immediately understand.

Aside from some unnecessary modesty, Aki has aligned the stories she communicates about herself, the way she sees herself and reality so closely that there are minimal discrepancies. If you have the opportunity to work with Aki, you would find this statement proves true. Branding is not just for businesses anymore. Every communication you put out into the world will contribute to your personal brand and when your band is as consistent as Aki’s it becomes a holophrasm, expressing your brand in a single nucleus. Aki has achieved such a level of brand coherence that her name now acts as a holophrasm.

What strategies do you use when defining your personal brand?

What are some examples you can share about personal brand coherence?

– Alexis Trimnal, Carey Shetterley,, June Wilkinson, and Carey Poniewaz

-Interviewee: Aki Suzuki

Story-telling: No Longer Just for Kids

The demand for internship experience on a resume is rising, and with it, the competition for internships among college students. However, the benefit of an internship is not that it will land you a job offer after graduation, but the professional experience gained and effectively communicated. A narrative communication structure allows the interviewees to establish an emotional connection with the prospective employers by outlining problems they faced, goals they set for themselves, and solutions they eventually came to.


Your narrative is affected by accepting a paid or unpaid internship. A study published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed that 52.1% of applicants who had previous internship experiences received a job offer compared to the 38.6% who didn’t have previous internship experienced. This is due to the experience and professional skills developed during a person’s time as an intern and his or her ability to communicate those skills. Whether the internship is paid or unpaid, what you put into it is what you get out of it. However, if you’re looking for a job offer after graduation with the company you intern with, paid internships are the way to go. After interning for for-profit companies, 64.5% of applicants with paid internships were offered jobs at the company while only 38.5% of applicants with unpaid internships were extended the same offer. If you have your heart set on working for your dream company, this is definitely something to consider. Would your time be better spent working as an unpaid intern for said company or choosing to intern elsewhere and apply later?

The narratives we create for ourselves when communicating professional experience are make job applicants competitive. A student could have interned at several companies over his or her college car. Thankfully, there are resources available to help students find potential employers to communicate their narratives to. The UNCW Career Center is the powerhouse behind resources like SeaWork and the Certified Internship Program (CIP). SeaWork allows anyone with a UNCW login to access job and internship postings from all around the United States. The CIP gives students an alternative to unpaid internships by offering class credit for the work a student does. The Career Center also offers resources like mock interviews and resumé workshops to help you feel confident in the professional world. Be sure to follow @dubcareercenter on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest for the latest information!
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-Luci Keefer, Griffin Weidele, Austin Moody, Allen Wooten, Scott Uraro

The ‘One Tree Hill’ Gang

This past year, Wilmington was home to two exclusive One Tree Hill reunions, where the TV show once took place. Hundreds people came out to interact and reminisce with their favorite characters from the show. Commuters traveled from all over the nation and even overseas to Wilmington for the three-day event. Tickets started at $35 and increased up to $795 for a VIP experience. Fans who were willing to pay these high amounts obviously have a deep connection with the show or the characters.


However, this is not surprising. Cultivation theory tell us that high frequency viewers of television are more susceptible to media messages and the belief that they are real and valid. We can understand the One Tree Hill phenomena as it was one TV’s most popular shows for eight years. The viewers create a strong bond to the show and the actors that portray the characters.


Brands that cultivate a culture around their product and are able to build a lasting relationship with their consumers. The creators of One Tree Hill are able to continue the brand without producing a product. This benefits not only the show, but allows consumers to identify and participate with a culture that shares their common interests.

What other brands have cultivated their image to go beyond their product?

– Nick, Melanie, Mary & Patrick


11988465_1160279773988423_7033451740836374441_nIn case you haven’t heard the buzz throughout the halls of Leutze, there is a new project on campus called WingSpan. WingSpan is a weekly talk show that discusses political issues with guests who are experts on various topics. In the first episode, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo discussed the economic development of Wilmington. During the second episode, County Commissioner Rob Zapple discussed environmental incentives in our region.

An ETEAL funded project, WingSpan is produced entirely by COM 351, Media and Politics. The students are responsible for the research, production, and promotion of WingSpan, under the guidance of Dr. Jennifer Brubaker. The first step for branding the television show included a naming contest throughout UNC Wilmington’s campus. Students were encouraged to submit possible names for the show, winning the contest and prizes. This contest raised awareness for WingSpan, and directly engaged one of the show’s publics – college students.

For the remainder of the ten-week show, the students are reaching out to different UNCW campus organizations, who pertain to the topic for that week. In the second episode, COM 351 contacted organizations such as The Plastic Ocean Project. They ensured students who are passionate about the environment- to tune in and watch the show that week. WingSpan recognizes the importance of discussing topics that resonate with the students at UNCW.

The group of PR and promotion students understand the significant need to have a presence on social media – further connecting and building relationships with the viewers. WingSpan students plan to continually push for the UNCW community to get involved through social media interaction, using the hashtag #WingSpan. Media’s role is to tell you what to think, not how to think. According to the Agenda Setting Theory, mass media has the ability to transfer the salience of issues on the news agenda to the public agenda. WingSpan recognizes the importance of remaining unbiased, and simply giving viewers the tools necessary to form their own opinions on political topics.

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The twitter account raises political issues with its followers and encourages discussions, without a bias toward one opinion over another. As represented by the tweet, WingSpan is presenting the political issue of education. Wingspan encourages the community to think about and discuss the topic, by sharing data regarding the educational system. It is evident the students understand their roles and goals: to inform students and the community about political issues. COM 351 Media and Politics encourages students, faculty/staff, and the Wilmington community to think about political issues, not how to think about them.


In a city that has been a production hub for many years- it is an exciting opportunity for UNCW students to experience the other side of television, first hand. You can follow WingSpan on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and tune in on Fridays at Noon on, or Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm on TLN.

-Jonathan Callahan, Erin Fouhy, Julia George, Joseph Hines, and Sarah Suggs

Cucalorus: How to Brand an Independent Film Festival

By Daniel Dawson

Cucalorus is Wilmywood’s premiere quirky film festival, showcasing independent films from local, national and international artists. Film connoisseurs sporting chunky glasses, artsy students in their thrift-store best and less interesting folk like you and I file into Thalian Hall (or one of the many other venues), settle down and wait for the lights to dim. This November will be the 21st year this little slice of art and culture draws people to downtown Wilmington.

I could barely convince people to keep coming after my twelfth birthday party, so how does Cucalorus garner a big crowd each consecutive year? A cohesive brand narrative, that’s how. And Cucalorus’ brand narrative is nothing short of weird—but in the good way. Let’s explore what makes Cucalorus cool.

  1. It’s in the copy

While none of these factors are ranked in any specific order of importance, I am a word person and always like to read and evaluate the voice of an organization. Many organizations forget about this, not capitalizing its subtle importance. Bad organizations.

Cucalorus, on the other hand, has got its copy down pat. The copy, whether it’s online, in print or broadcasted on the radio, is how an organization communicates not only its news or events, but its personality, its voice and its image.  Here’s a snippet of copy from Cucalorus’ donation page on their website:

“Hey Cucalorians!!! Do you need to get rid of unwanted cash? Make a donation and we’ll send you a tax deduction letter to send your fuzzy little friends at the IRS (they don’t need your money and clearly don’t know what to do with it!!). We do know what to do with it – we’re already plotting and scheming for the 21st annual Cucalorus Film Festival – taking place November 11-15, 2015!!! Help us fund the dreams and visions of artists all over the world by making a donation today.
Dreaming of eggnog omelettes!
The Cucalorus Film Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit and your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.”


On first glance this might sound unprofessional and not the voice an organization would want to convey. The context, though, is important. Cucalorus’ audience is mostly the aforementioned artists, hipsters and independent film connoisseurs and Cucalorians. These types of people generally like funny, creative and quirky things (like Cucalorus). These types of people also tend to be skeptical of the IRS—not to mention the state cutting NC’s film incentive last year.  So yes, it might be OK for Cucalorus to be a bit irreverent, and it’s their creative risk.

  1. Digital presence, dude

If your business doesn’t have some sort of online presence (an email address counts), I would like you to write to me immediately by carrier pigeon and explain how you’re still surviving. An online presence is increasingly important each year, and now just having a website and Facebook isn’t cutting it. Brand cohesion across appropriate social media networks and inter-connectivity between them is vital.

Cucalorus not only has a website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram but their own blog and—drum roll—they are all updated. Bravo, Cucalorus. Content creation and audience engagement are essential to a successful IMC strategy.

  1. Creepily consistent image

This one is tandem with the digital presence. IMC consists of advertising, public relations, marketing and every other single communication an organization can perform with its publics. Consistency in corporate communication allows the organization and its audiences to construct a narrative and image of the brand. This is what people can relate to. This is how we can see the quirkiness, irreverence and artsy personality of Cucalorus as if it were that weird kid in your English class who would always have some snappy reference to an obscure book even your professor hadn’t read. But less annoying.

Take a look at Cucalorus’ official website:

Cucalorus Home Page - Wilmington, NC

Ooh, warm fall colors. Where’s my PSL?!

The color scheme and design is consistent. The font-faces, graphics and little cartoon dudes are consistent. There’s well-organized navigation and that copy I was talking about earlier. The social media pages follow suit. There’s an article on this if you’re into academic papers. Basically, the author, Simon Torp from Odense University in Denmark, says that as an organization your communication through all channels must be consistent, accessible and in line with your self-image, public image and meta-image for people to take you seriously.

  1. Zany staff workers

When I said all channels of communication, I meant all of them. Even the staff workers and volunteers need to be carefully selected and even briefed on an organization’s code of conduct. One time I went to a screening of a Cucalorus film at Thalian Hall and, not to get into too much detail, I, with the rest of the audience, was sternly asked by staff to partake in a ritual involving whipped cream, button pins and our tongues. Was I offended? No, but I could have been if I had been misguided by thinking Cucalorus was actually a convention for neo-Puritans. Because their self-branding and self-image don’t suggest that, I could expect something out of the ordinary. It’s the risk that Cucalorus takes to maintain its image and appeal to its target audience.

  1. High-quality product

When it comes down to it, a business or organization is only as good as its product. Silly brand narrative and image aside, Cucalorus does a good job at what it does. It recruits and selects excellent film talent from around the world and showcases it in quality and entertaining venues. This is where word-of-mouth comes into play. Word-of-mouth marketing or WOM is an organic and invaluable means of public relations, advertising and marketing. Have you ever read a positive news story about an organization you love? Or has a good friend of yours recommended a product or service they favor? These are examples of WOM that can make or break an organization depending on whether they are in favor or against it.  Maintaining the balance between brand narrative, professionalism and good business sense is how an organization thrives. While Cucalorus does an outstanding job of its own branding and controlled media, its reputation for quality and intrigue reign in filmmakers and spectators every year.

I am no way affiliated with the Cucalorus film festival professionally, nor do I represent it. I recognize good IMC in organizations and talk about it here. But, if you are tired of what the local theaters are playing, check out a showing of something interesting between November 11 and 15 downtown at Cucalorus.