As they scribbled notes and asked questions, George Mason University students were an eager audience as they listened to some of the nation's leading communication professionals discuss their career successes, setbacks, and lessons learned.
The Fall 2022 Communication Career Forum, on October 25 at Mason’s Fairfax Campus, focused on helping students break into the industry, and inspiring them to find purpose in their work, said Beth Jannery, journalism director in Mason’s Department of Communication.
“It has definitely diversified how I see communications as a field and what I’m interested in pursuing,” said David Kendrick, a senior communication major who explained that his interest in media production sprang from conversations with mentors from Discovery Communications and the Eaton Creative Group.
Between adjunct professors at Mason who currently work in the industry and events, such as the annual forum, to have that opportunity to meet them, pick their brains, and get connected,” Kendrick said, “there’s a plethora of professionals that are involved at the university, so it’s always great to have that opportunity to meet them, pick their brains, and get connected.”
There were 115 students and 17 mentors at the forum, hosted by Mason’s Department of Communication and its external advisory board, the Insight Committee.
“This forum augments the wisdom that professors provide in their classes with some real-world points of view from these mentors that I think will give Mason students a leg up as they think about what they want to do for their careers,” said Clay McConnell, a Mason adjunct professor who is also senior vice president of corporate communications and marketing at Intelsat and chair of the Insight Committee.
The Insight Committee works each year to invite mentors with a range of skills, strengths, and job experiences, said Julie Murphy, president of Sage Communications and part of the Insight subcommittee that planned the event.
Access to these leading professionals in media relations, journalism, public relations, health/interpersonal communications, and political communications is a benefit of Mason’s location right outside of Washington, D.C., Murphy said.
Mason’s proximity to the nation’s capital was why Savannah Behrmann, BA Communication ’18, a mentor and the Senate correspondent for the National Journal, attended Mason.
“Being able to come back to Mason and pay it forward is so important because if I didn’t have those kinds of people in my life willing to do that for me, I don’t think I would have been able to break into the industry,” Behrmann said. “It was through Mason alumni that I got my first two internships.”
Saana Heikkala, a junior exchange student from the University of Helsinki majoring in cultural studies and minoring in communication, said she was inspired by the two of the mentoring sessions she attended.
The forum, Heikkala said, motivated her to grow her network, work on her LinkedIn presence, and ultimately build opportunities in communication.
The Department of Communication also held a brief scholarship ceremony for senior communication majors Sarah Swift and Katyayani Sharma, and sophomore business major Mathilda Tataw. These students received certificates and met with the faculty and Insight Committee members who helped support the scholarships.