The Power of Everyone

When I first arrived at UNCW in the fall of 2009, I had plans to study film, graduate in four years, and fulfill my dream of being a Hollywood director making summer blockbusters about robots and aliens. Needless to say, that never happened. I added on a Communication Studies degree halfway through my freshman semester, and once I took my first Film Studies class, I realized that what I thought I wanted to do wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I quickly dropped film and focused on Communication Studies. I took it one step further and picked up Business as a second major with a concentration in Marketing.

I had the mindset that all of these requirements would be completed in four years. However, I found out during my advising session this semester that while it was possible to graduate in May of 2013 with two degrees, it would be packed, busy, and difficult. Another option was to graduate with only a Communication Studies degree and graduate early in December of 2012. I had a decision to make: should I drop my Business degree and graduate ahead of my class, or grit my teeth and struggle through a non-stop senior year?

I asked around, looking for advice, trying to find someone who had or was currently in a similar situation. Unfortunately, no one I talked to could relate. It became a haunting thought, knowing that I would have to make a life changing decision on my own without receiving advice from anyone who had made that same decision. There was one place I did find my answers though: Online.

I wrote a short submission about my degree dilemma and posted to a few online forums. This is where I found my answer.  Users from all over the world sent me responses with their personal testimonies regarding their decision to stay in school and earn a second degree. What I found to be even more fascinating is the medium that I was using portrayed the same concept that I was studying: Communication.

Recently in our IMC II class we finished reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. I have never been able to relate more to a book than after consulting with strangers on the Internet about college decisions. Everything that I had studied and learned was being exemplified right in front of me.

After posting, Googling, tweeting, and searching, I came to the conclusion I should stay in school as long as I can and take my time to earn my second degree. My consultants on the web advised me that they never regretted staying to earn another degree, and that there is absolutely no rush to get out into the “real world”. My decision was made. I wouldn’t graduate early and I wouldn’t take on too much. Instead, I added on an extra semester to balance out my time and my required classes, making my graduation date Fall of 2013. Looking back, I believe it will be one of the best decisions I could have ever made, and it would not have been possible without the “everyone” of the Internet.

- Hunter Wilson

Time Flies Faster Then You Think

Our three years here at UNCW has been a nonstop learning experience. We have not only gained knowledge in classes, but have also gained valuable and unforgettable life experiences. Laura transferred to UNCW after her freshman year and since she has been in Wilmington has had three very valuable internships. The key to getting a job in this market is to have experience in your field of interest and being able to effectively market yourself to potential employers. In our IMC 1 class we had an assignment where we had to market our personal brand and why we should be hired over our competitors. It is crucial to understand how and why your brand is better than the kids sitting next to you. It is not only important to know why your brand is the best, but you also need to understand how to market your experiences and internships to fit the qualities for your potential employer. Taking advantage of internship opportunities, especially for credit through the Department of Communication Studies, is a great idea for anyone and everyone. Without those experiences we would not be as prepared or as knowledgeable about our field of interest as we are now. So, when you’re thinking of what to do with all your time during the beautiful summer in Wilmington, think about taking an internship or think about how you can make your brand stand out among others.

Another important piece of advice is to get involved on campus. Once you are a student, UNCW becomes your home away from home. The best way to find comfort is meeting and bonding with other students who are in your exact situation. UNCW has over 200 clubs and organizations for students to become involved in. The only hard decision you have to make is: which club should I join? Tennis, TealTV, Communication Studies Society, the choices are endless. The moral of the story is this: get involved on campus and make your presence known. You only have four years, which believe me, flies by in a blink of an eye. The friends you make in college become your friends for life. It is important to make your college journey memorable, exciting, and one that you can laugh about 40 years down the road reminiscing with your old college friends.

Lastly, as a college student, one of the most important things you do is research. Whether it’s writing a report, putting together a presentation, or simply watching the news on TV to catch the latest events, you are gathering information to analyze. Some of this information will be forgotten shortly after graduation, if not before you even cross the stage to get your diploma. However, some information you have gathered through your college career will stick with you for a lifetime and will become helpful in future career situations.  Learning doesn’t just stop when you get your diploma. The research skills you learn to use as a student can be used for the rest of your life, as you strive to be an informed individual.

So just remember, time flies. Before you know it you will be walking across the stage to receive your diploma.  Don’t just be a beach bum, at least, not all the time. Do something that will show your future employers that you did something with your short time here to make a difference.

-Laura Simmons, Brooke Keller, Ashley Oliver

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

College is an experience that has the unique ability to change you over the course of four years. You have four years to make mistakes, meet new people, take classes you love (or hate), get involved, study abroad, get an internship, and find out who you are under the thoughtful guise of higher education. For me, UNCW has been a place of learning and growing. A place where I have come to recognize who I am as a person and what matters most to me as a student, a friend and a person.

I quickly found my home in the Department of Communication Studies. One of my favorite things was that they really made you work for your spot in the major; I spent half of COM 200 in a quantitative research haze wondering what in the world I was doing looking at bumper stickers in the parking lot outside Randall Library. The major can be intimidating at first, but as you graduate from Pre-COM advising and pass COM 200, you begin to find your niche within the department. I found mine during the spring semester of my sophomore year in Dr. Jeanne Persuit’s Intro to IMC class. I entered the class with trepidation, having absolutely no clue what Integrated Marketing Communication meant, but also with an open mind as to where the semester might take me.

I gobbled up every book Dr. Persuit fed us; from Groundswell to Branded Nation, I didn’t even mind being woken up at 6:00 am by Seth Godin because I was genuinely interested in what his blog would teach me that day. The individual IMC plan which functioned as our final assignment sealed the deal for me; I had finally found my niche. Nowalmost two years later, I am wrapping up my UNCW career with Dr. Persuit’s IMC II class and I am not at all surprised to find myself here. College is a gift; a present that your future self gives you when you’re 18 years old and have no clue what you’re going to do with your life. Whether you slowly unwrap it or tear through the paper and ribbons, what you find inside is completely up to you.

By: Kacy Cox

Special Day #18

I’ve experienced 17 last days of school. 17 times I’ve walked out of a large building with a smile on my face knowing that I had 3 months of freedom ahead of me. 3 months to play with my friends, 3 months to stay up late, 3 months to wear nothing more professional than board shorts and an old pair of Rainbows. And somehow, all 17 times have managed to be just as special as the one before. There are only a handful of experiences that are so special to me that I approached them with the same enthusiasm when I was 5 as I did when I was 21, the last day of school was one of them. This next last day of school will probably be my last, and I meet it with a certain level of apprehension. This is the first time I have ever experienced a last day of school without knowing when I would return to school. This is the first time I’ve ever gone into summer without teachers or parents telling me that I need to read a couple books over summer or look over my notes in order to keep the information fresh in my mind. This is the first time I’ve ever ended a school year without looking over all my school supplies and making a mental note of what I would need to buy before the next school year began.

It’s ironic that this last day of school makes me nervous for the exact reasons that I loved all of the other last days of school. This last day of school represents levels of freedom I have never experienced before. I can pack up and leave the city, the state, or even the country and in 3 months no one will be sending me emails about assignments I have missed, no one will be calling my parents to find out why I haven’t returned. I am about to enter purgatory. This begins a time where I am not employed full-time and am no longer a student. Lord knows I can’t fill out any surveys until I find a job, I’ll look like a bum.

I know nothing about what the rest of my life will bring. Hopefully there will be a wife involved, and kids, yea, kids would be nice, oh, and margaritas! on a beach, a Caribbean beach, no, you need a lot of money for that, maybe just margaritas on a quaint American beach.

As this time approaches, I’m nervous, I’m apprehensive, I’m anxious. But no matter what anyone says, I ain’t scurd.

-Bryce Koonts

Networking is the Key

Well, everyone, here we are at the end of yet another semester. We are all about to start pulling out hair from finals stress and all those last minute projects. But, contrary to what many people think, I have all of my ducks in a row. My notes are all put away from the semester, all projects are finished or on their way to being finished, and I am ready for graduation. What I don’t have, though, is that perfect dream job; I have been job hunting and sending resumes all over the USA but have yet to find a job. I have become discouraged and scared that the only thing I will get to do after graduation is go back to working as a CSR for a small-time franchise. But what I seem to keep forgetting, is that one little thing that everyone tells me, or at least what all my teachers are telling me: everyone wants to help out a recent college graduate.

In today’s world, you need to remember every resource you have and use it to your advantage. I have been very fortunate to have associations who have seen my work and hired me to do some brand identity for them as a freelance graphic designer. I also have been given the great honor of being asked to present at ComicCon in San Diego this summer as a professional. This is a big honor and one of the best things to happen to me, because of the people I will meet and get to network with in my profession, who have the possibility of offering me a job. So, from the fact that I now have experience in my field and have been given a chance to network with the big names in my profession, I know I will get to work as a graphic designer for a company one day. It might take some patience and getting my name out there some more, but I will network and get some more experience so that I can get my dream job working for Pixar Animation Studios and have my name in their next big movie.

By Dorothy Conley

Just Go With It…

The first things that attracted me to UNCW was its proximity to the beach and because I was offered a scholarship to play volleyball here. My initial area of interest was athletic training, but I was told it would be impossible while being a student-athlete. After coming to school and doing a few basic studies classes, I was intrigued by the Communication Studies major as a whole. I was intimidated at the beginning of the COM Studies major, but after completing COM 105 and COM 200 and finally being accepted to become a COM Studies major, I knew it was the right place for me. The Communication Studies major is a mixture of all types of communication and all kinds of people. I have learned so many important skills while being in this department and I will leave UNCW with a greater understanding of what I am capable of in the real world and how bright my future really is because of my major. I have learned so much from amazing professors and great friends I have made along the way, and I wouldn’t change a day at UNCW for anything. Seahawks for life.
-Kelsey Bendig

To be honest, UNCW was not my first option when looking into my future in college. I grew up in the city and wanted to experience something different. I was looking forward to ending up on the west side of NC after moving down from NJ in 2006. After committing to UNCW, I had to sort out what I wanted to do while I was here. I was always in the mindset that I would pursue a degree in Athletic Training and stay involved with sports because it has surrounded my life. After a series of unfortunate events, I found myself looking for other career opportunities. As a general elective, I took COM 104 with Dr. Bruce McKinney. I fell in love with the department. I am one who believes that some things certainly happen for a reason and signing up for COM 104 was just another. I had not heard much about COM but decided to give it a shot and learned about a whole new side to my desire to stay involved with sports.I found myself in COM 105 and the day that I heard about IMC/PR, it hit me like an open field tackle. I shifted from working directly with the players on the sidelines to getting people to come to the games and to invest in brands. I could not get enough out of classes and was always left in anticipation of the next class and the next class. This feeling has never stopped and I am so thankful that the COM department appeared on my collegiate path. I encourage students who are dead set on a major to reconsider especially in the freshman and sophomore years. Take some time to explore things you’ve never considered. I did and it led me to the best department on UNCW’s campus. I’m proud to be an IMChawk!
-Julius Roberts

When I was looking into colleges, UNCW was always one of my first choices. The beach was always a place where I felt at home. UNCW also caught my attention because of its excellent reputation of programs that are offered. As a freshman, I decided I wanted to be a dentist and took the pre-dental route. This consisted of a great deal of biology and chemistry. I knew from my first semester that pre-dental really wasn’t for me. My older sister directed me towards Communication Studies and I am so thankful that she did. I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of through my courses as a COM major. I’ve enjoyed each and every class as a COM major and felt like I have received a well-rounded education. I really loved how with as a COM major you could choose a concentration, but you didn’t have to. I took introductory classes for just about every concentration so that I could have a wide understanding of communication and what the major had to offer. I believe that everyone should be required to take some sort of COM class to help them understand not only how to communicate effectively, but how to truly think outside the box. I will be able to take a great deal of things that I have learned during my time at UNCW and apply it to my future career goals. This major has directed me in the path that I feel I should be on. I am very excited to see what the world holds for me and how I can use what I have learned in everyday situations.
-Andrea Blanton

Learning cont.

Four years ago I was excited yet dumbfounded to be initiated into the life of a college student. From the bustle of dorm life and fitting in, to the restrictions made by school work and the dread of 8am classes there really wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t learning something new. In-fact if there is one thing that has stuck with me it is simply that; there is never an end to learning.

I came in to the University of North Carolina Wilmington kind of jaded by the thought of being weighed down by more school work and learning pointless material. It was only the past few semesters where I really became disgustingly interested in my classes. If it wasn’t for my chance discovery of the Communications Studies department’s video production courses I probably wouldn’t have found my way so easily. I was actually thinking about that just the other night. If it wasn’t for this school, my courses, and a few teachers I wouldn’t have been a production assistant on One Tree Hill or other major productions that Wilmington houses. The point of college is to find those tiny glimmers of opportunity that randomly present themselves. You have to learn to see them first, though. By learning to see them, I am simply referring to the broadening of one’s mind and seeing the possibilities in something small like a professor’s request for help in an email, or a club event, or anything small that may lead you to meet and come in contact with all the right people.

I managed to take advantage of some of these opportunities throughout my stay at UNCW and now I am lined up with a movie production fresh out of college. I say to those of you in school: don’t be afraid to take risks, do things you may not think you like, and challenge yourself to take your learning off campus. There is a world outside of the university that your teachers are trying to teach you, but you also have to go out and learn some stuff for yourself. Life is a never-ending journey, and I will never stop learning.
By: Sara Kaloudis