The Communications Department prepares "Jills of all trades"
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking a tour of Simmons's communications department. It was led by Professor Jim Corcoran who showed us the design lab, the student workroom, the state-of-the-art Simmons Radio Station, and the darkroom. It was a great experience because I was able to learn all about the department's strength, which is "media convergence" - the intersection and interaction of multiple media disciplines.
Professor Corcoran explained how the department is unique because it responds to the recent demand for multi-skilled graduates who can be a "Jill of all trades." He said that today's fast-growing markets, such as media outlets, non-profits, community-based organizations, and small entrepreneurial companies are looking to hire employees who can excel at more than one task.
Jessica Rudis '08, a recent grad who majored in Communications, is now a regional correspondent for The Boston Globe. She says convergence is affecting every field of study, especially media. Not only does she need to know how to interview, report, and write, but she also has to design layouts, maintain websites, and take her own photos and shoot video.
The professors in the department understand that students will be required to blend skills, and that the rapid changes in technology will demand that students know how to adapt to dramatic changes in their work and how they do that work. As a result, communications students can pick and choose from classes in several disciplines, including: journalism, public relations, graphic design, and video production. Professor Corcoran says the department is particularly good at ensuring that students receive a strong liberal arts background while also receiving strong career preparation.
In addition to the tour, I had the opportunity to hear about some of the department's amazing courses. For example, there's a special topics class that connects Simmons students with students in Ghana using new online technologies, such as Skype and Ning. Also, Studio 5, the capstone independent learning class, is where the media skills emphasized in the department - design, video, writing, advertising, broadcasting, and public relations - actually converge. In addition, the department is always offering new and exciting courses that prepare students for today's industries. They include Emerging Social Media, Digital Media Convergence, and Storytelling.
At the end of the spring semester, the communications students have an opportunity to showcase the work they completed throughout the year at the annual "The Show! Comm Works." To see some of their projects check out the Department of Communications Student Portfolio.