George Mason University students assembled on the third floor of the Johnson Center on the Fairfax Campus on Oct. 26 to have their career questions answered by some of the nation’s leading communications professionals.
About 100 students attended the Fall 2021 Communication Career Forum hosted by Mason’s Department of Communication and its external advisory board, the Insight Committee. There they had the opportunity to interact in person with public affairs specialists, media producers, journalists, health communicators and marketers.
The goal of the event: empowering students to build connections with mentors in their industry to help launch their careers.
“Everyone has such different journeys,” said one of the mentors, Mason alum Kristen Dalton, BA Communication ’17, MA Science Communication ’20, a senior account manager at Digital Health Strategies. “I think there’s so much value in hearing how different people got to where they are, so people know the doors that they have open for them.”
Because the mentors were in different rooms, it allowed for intimate, small-group conversations.
“Students can see what the different paths are, they can see what a day in the life is of different communications professionals, and most importantly, they can start building their network,” said Julie Murphy, president of Sage Communications and leader of the Insight subcommittee that planned this event.
Sydney Barlow, a junior communication major concentrating in journalism, said she appreciated the opportunity to network with experienced professionals as she looks forward to graduating in December 2022.
The forum began with a virtual keynote interview featuring Mason alumni Angie Goff, BA Communication ’01, and Marcella Robertson, BA Communication ’11. Goff, an anchor and co-host at Fox Broadcasting Company, and Robertson, a reporter at WUSA-TV, provided advice on how to be “the CEO of your career.”
“This event is so meaningful and is so important to have alumni that have been in your shoes, have sat where you sit, and have had your professors, and you can give them your insight and your pathway,” Dalton said.
Other mentors in attendance came from such organizations as NPR, Discovery Communications, the Council of State Governments, and PRofessional Solutions, LLC, a public relations temporary staffing agency.
One more thing the Career Forum provided: optimism.
“It’s really great to see people in the field and learn from them and see that they’re real people,” said Savannah Telfer, a senior communication major concentrating in journalism. “Sometimes it feels like things are unattainable,” she said.
But after speaking with the mentors, including Andrea Cambron, supervising editor of Morning Edition at NPR, Telfer said she felt like her career goals are achievable.