We chatted with Professor Porter about PLAN, internships and being voted Professor of the Year by the senior class!
What is your favorite class to teach?
Our capstone communications class, Studio 5. Teams of students do amazing work for real-world clients like Children's Hospital, State Street Corp. and Project Bread. Students can then use their experience in job interviews and their portfolios.
Fill in the blank: When I was in college, I ____
knew I was getting drafted into the military (number 82 in the final draft lottery) so I worked hard and also had fun. I met a lot of great people who are still friends today. I actually studied to be a teacher before going to the Defense Dept. journalism school, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
When I'm not teaching, I'm ____
playing with 6 grandkids all under the age of 5. I've learned the likes and dislikes of princesses and can now sing "The Wheels on the Bus" on demand.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I am the best Trivial Pursuit partner you could ever have because I am a treasure trove of useless information.
I love my students because ____
they are so smart and creative. They challenge and surprise me every day.
Fill in the blank: I love Simmons because ____
Simmons has the most committed and dedicated alumnae/i network. We have senior people all over the world who are always willing to help our students. You don't find that at the "big box" universities.
As Internship Director, What are your top 3 tips for students looking for internships?
Network, network, network. In all seriousness, that's the way you find internships and get jobs.
Practical advice for communications students:
- Become skilled at multiple communications disciplines
- Show confidence and be able to present yourself and your ideas with enthusiasm
- Constantly improve your writing because that's a foundational skill critical to any communications job
What are some common mistakes to avoid when interviewing for a position?
A deal killer is not having questions for the interviewer. Also not good — not having information about the organization before you interview and talking too much about yourself and not enough about what you can do for the organization.
One secret to success: have RESULTS when you talk about your accomplishments. Another: be able to answer behavioral interview questions like: “tell me about a time you worked on a project that didn't go the way you expected.” Have success stories to tell and practice your delivery.
Tell us about your PLAN class: News@Boston.
I've been fascinated with the news ever since I was young and watched the TV news with my parents. I also worked in the print news business and have roots in that world. It seemed natural to combine having students gain knowledge of Boston with understanding local issues and how Bostonians get news. We visited the neighborhood, heard from speakers from the mayor’s office and had journalists present. I also had students write a weekly blog on a subject of importance to the Fenway area, like housing.
What's the most exciting part about working with PLAN?
PLAN is what I call a "build your own" college experience. Students can put together the course of study they're interested in — and explore new directions. That's exciting. It's also exciting to be on the ground floor of such an innovative program, with the opportunity to help it succeed. I see PLAN building a whole new generation of leaders who are confident in their skills.
How has news consumption evolved in recent years? How are news outlets keeping up with the changing news landscape?
They are struggling to adjust. News organizations are writing shorter, using more visuals and using multiple platforms to deliver their news. There is also a rush to be first, which can often lead to mistakes. But they have to adapt to the reality that people don't have the patience or time to read long stories. If you don't get their attention with a headline, tight lead and visual, they're onto something else. Analytics and big data are also playing a part in how news organizations operate and I see that trend growing. The business will continue to evolve and I believe we'll continue seeing even more convergence of platforms.
What are your favorite Boston news outlets?
I'm a bit of a news junky. I have more than 20 news sites bookmarked and visit them multiple times every day. I read both the Globe and Herald every day. My favorite is the Herald for local news, but I'm a bit biased, since I worked there many years ago. I tend to watch WCVB (Ch. 5) for local TV news. They offer me a blend of viewpoints and coverage, which I think is very important. I also listen to sports radio stations and WBZ, the all-news Boston station.
You were recently voted Professor of the Year by the senior class! Can you tell us what that honor means to you?
It really meant a lot that students voted for me. Just being nominated was an honor. Winning was cool. Working with such motivated and talented students is a pleasure. It's the best job I've ever had — and I got free ice cream at one of my other jobs.
What's your Simmons Moment?
There have been so many. When I get a thank-you note out of the blue from a grad who is succeeding in her chosen field, when I meet a parent who tells me his or her daughter has learned so much from me, when I see a student develop from a quiet first year in the back row of my writing class to a manager of an editorial office in New Zealand in her mid-20s, when I ask a successful alum who is running her own interior design business in two cities to speak to a class and she shows up! There are more than I can count.