Coming back to campus

The end of the school year is fast approaching — which in part explains the lack of activity on this blog in the last week or so. There’s a lot going on and most of my spare minutes have been devoted to academic duties.

So a year which started with with a unique and unforgettable fall semester in London is wrapping up the way most of them do. Which is not a bad thing at all — I’m a creature of habit and I enjoy the rituals, routines and just the rhythm of the school calendar.

And this time of year, I enjoy the feeling of closure you get from doing some things for the final time — similar to the feeling I get in my newspaper businees of having met a deadline and relaxing because the work is done. (In my academic job, this is pretty much the only time I get that, and it lasts only until summer school starts back up.

One of my routines during the school year is involvement in Wednesday night “paper night,” the production time for The Weekly Triangle, the university’s student newspaper. (If you’re new to this blog, I should explain that I’m the faculty adviser.) We had our last one this past Wednesday, a newsy edition that wrapped up a good year.

I made a comment to this effect in my “status update” on my Facebook page and immediately saw the ability of the social networking site to create community. Almost immediately, four or five former editors of the paper made comments on my status with some memories of their Wednesday nights in charge. These folks were located in states from Virginia to Minnesota — some comments were directed to me, and two of them started talking to each other. I just got out of the way and enjoyed it.

From this virtual meeting of former staff members, I hosted an actual one today. Four former editors of the paper who have become accomplished young professional communicators, and who are all friends, came to campus. I had asked two of them to come and speak to my News Writing class, and the group just grew. They’re pictured below.

In front are Kelly Hinchcliffe and Justin Quesinberry, class of 2004 and married to each other since May 2007. Both were editor for a semester during the 2003-2004 school year. And both are now in television, Kelly as a web editor for WRAL-TV in Raleigh and Justin as a reporter and photographer for WFMY-TV in Greensboro.

In back are, at left, Misty Ebel, class of 2001 and Triangle editor in 2000-2001. She works in development and membership services for the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. On the right is Randi Davis, class of 2004 and editor of the paper for two years, 2001-2002 and 2002-2003. She works in public relations/international communications for the IT department of Mecklenburg County government.

All four spoke to some of our students for a meeting of our chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national communications fraternity. I asked them to have an informal chat with the students about working in communications-related fields, how to prepare for the job market and how to look for jobs.

The students asked good questions and my former students gave good advice — get as much experience as you can and make yourself stand out in internships; be proactive in looking for possible jobs by researching the type of job you want and the location where you want to work, then calling and sending a resume. And be tenacious and persistent!

It was good to see them and it’s one of the biggest rewards of being a professor to have these continuing relationships with the people you’ve taught. We’ll be sending some more out soon.

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About theoldperfessor

I'm a college professor, teaching journalism and public relations classes at a small private university, and a freelance writer.
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