Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Students Gain Professional Communication Experience in the Classroom

There are a wide variety of campus offices and student-run organizations at Bloomsburg University where students can work to enhance their professional communication skills. Another opportunity for students involves working with an outside client in the classroom. Many local businesses and non-profit organizations value the chance to connect with students in various ways. Several courses in COLA and across the university provide such opportunities, and last fall Elizabeth Petre (Communication Studies) taught two classes that worked to connect students with local organizations and the university as a whole.

In Communication for Business Professionals (COMMSTUD 307) students worked with area businesses on semester-length client projects geared toward promoting their organizations. Students were divided into five teams split among three local businesses: Key Partners Realty LLC, the Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, and the Bloomsburg Children’s Museum. 

Students developed various promotional and marketing materials including brochures, newspaper ads, and posters. Other innovative materials the students designed included a sample PowerPoint slidedeck to be presented to potential clients. Each organization that worked with the students received copies of the students’ final ideas in a formal report and were invited to attend the final presentations. One student even landed an internship with the organization his team was assigned to work with. The picture featured below shows two student teams with their course clients following final presentations delivered in class.

Students enrolled in Leadership and Team Building (COMMSTUD 426) also participated in a client project with a slightly different focus. Students worked with the Center for Leadership and Engagement (CLE) on campus to develop ways to promote and enhance the recent10th annual Husky Student Leadership Summit. The summit isa free day-long conference focused on honing students’ leadership skills that takes places on campus each spring. Two teams developed and presented student-run panel sessions for the conference; one concentrated on leadership skills for student-athletes and the other focused on different ways students can understand (and make use of) their leadership abilities. The other two teams developed marketing ideas using social media and proposed ways for students to select future keynote speakers for the conference. One team led the audience through an exercise where participants had to arrange cups into a pyramid shape as a group (see picture below). This team went on to apply to present their session at the actual conference in the spring. All students in the class worked with George Kinzel, Director of the CLE, on this project. Representatives from the CLE, the Alumni office, and other students were invited to attend the final presentations which took place in the McCormick 1303 auditorium last fall.

Dr. Petre enjoyed the opportunity to work with students on these projects and engage with the campus community. In addition to working with the CLE office, she received support from the Center for Professional Development and Career Experience (CPDCE) on campus. Laura McCay Suchanick, the Organization Engagement Coordinator, and Robyn Defelice, the Director of Internships and Career Experience, provided contact information for local businesses interested in working with students. They also attended some of the final presentations. Through these class projects, clients benefitted from working with student teams and hearing an outsider’s perspective on their organization or business. Students developed their professional communication skills through formal presentations and interpersonal interactions meeting with their clients. As a whole, the client projects provided students a great hands-on learning experience.

Thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Petre for providing this entry.

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