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USM’s Mississippi Association of Broadcasters Day Connects Students with Industry Professionals

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 09:02am | By: Ivonne Kawas

Arts and Sciences

Leading broadcasters from across the state gathered to meet with and mentor students during the (MAB) Day — a highly anticipated professional development event for students in The University of 51 Mississippi’s (USM) School of Media and Communication.

Students got the opportunity to engage in one-on-one interviews and portfolio reviews with media professionals in the digital journalism, broadcasting, production, and advertising fields. Additionally, they had lunch with faculty and engaged in a panel focusing on the future of media.

Among the professionals attending this year’s MAB Day were Emily Forrester, news director, WDAM; Tim Walker, vice president and general manager, WDAM; Tai Takahashi, news director, WJTV in Jackson; Rick Boone, news director, WXXV in Gulfport; Brett Schutt, general sales manager, WAPT; and Jacque Harms, vice president and general manager, WTOK.

“Hosting MAB Day provides students with the opportunity to network with industry professionals and make connections for future job and internship searches,” said Dr. Lindsey Maxwell, associate professor of mass communication and graduate coordinator. “By facilitating intentional interactions, students gain direct access to potential industry roles, allowing them to stand out among the top broadcast students in the state as they showcase their work.”

Emily Forrester, news director at WDAM, was one of the industry mentors who attended. She engaged in conversations with students and provided an understanding of the type of jobs available in broadcasting.

“MAB Day at 51 Miss always offers me the chance to connect with dozens of media students,” said Forrester. “The day provides real-world conversations on the types of broadcast jobs available and what expectations stations have for potential employees.”

Forrester added: “The event also allows students to connect a face with a name at a news station. In my opinion, this personalizes the job search process, enabling them to ask questions that prepare them to be ready for interviews.”

Raven Payne, a native of Hazlehurst, Miss. pursuing a Digital Journalism degree, reflected on the one-on-one sessions and described the opportunity as a roadmap for growth.

“The feedback generously shared by some of the news directors not only honed my skills but also provided a roadmap for growth,” said Payne. “It allowed me to gain valuable industry perspectives and insights that I wouldn’t have otherwise obtained. Additionally, it expanded my network and allowed me to connect with individuals who share the same interest and passion for the industry.”

Payne added that to fully leverage this opportunity, students must start preparing and curating their portfolios early on with either classwork or experiential work created by joining organizations like the Student Media Center.

“If you don’t have any work to show to the professionals, my advice is to use classwork to showcase your general knowledge of media,” said Payne. “You can also join organizations, such as the Student Media Center, to start creating work beyond the classroom. Your goal should be to gain experience in the field while creating different types of media and content for your portfolio.”

Jacque Harms, vice president and general manager at WTOK, pointed out that the data indicates students who engage in internships are more likely to succeed in their initial job roles. He emphasized this during his interactions with students.

“Hence, my top advice shared with students was to prioritize internships by clearing their schedules,” said Harms. “They should focus on cultivating a 'digital-first' mindset, recognizing the importance of understanding the rapid pace and daily deadlines inherent in journalism."

Harms continued by stating that he uses these events as an opportunity to network with potential employees.

 “School director, Dr. Edgar Simpson and his team work diligently to make the day a learning experience for the students, while introducing broadcasting professionals to potential employees,” said Harms. “After the one-on-one interviews and portfolio reviews, students are prepared to take their first steps in their careers.”