Category Archives: Graduate Life

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Experience is a teacher—grad school lessons learned

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

My semester of graduate school has come to a close and I figure it’s only appropriate to reflect upon and sum it all up as my final blog post of Fall 2014. Every day, every week, every course, everything came with a learning lesson at Boston University’s College of Communication (COM). As a first semester Master’s student, the past three months have not been a bag of gummy bears. Everything was so different from college, and everything I’ve ever thought about school was thrown out the window. It was a completely different world equipped with completely different learning lessons.

Lesson #1: Getting by on the hard days.
Hard days are unavoidable. They happen to all of us. My strategies? More like denial. I’ll usually do something else, whether it’s stuff I have to do anyway, like laundry or grocery shopping, or something that interests me, like reading a book for fun or dancing. Then, when I feel up to it, I’ll come back and address whatever it is that’s bothering me. I’ll probably go out for a run or sweat it off at the gym, then make some dinner and try to forget about my problems temporarily with The Office reruns.

I think it’s important to recognize that we all need some time to switch our minds to “off” and watch some TV or engage in something mindless without feeling guilty. When all else fails, if my motivation level just can’t seem to climb back up, even after watching the antics of Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s regional manager, I turn all electronics off and just get a good night’s sleep. I also try to think about my goals (why I’m here in grad school) and my successes so far. This helps me counterbalance the setbacks and help feed my motivation to get up in the morning. Never go to bed angry or sad on a hard day, trust me, you won’t be getting a good night’s sleep.

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Lesson #2: Handling A Full Plate
Grad school is all about prioritizing…everyone says you can do everything if you just make time. There are impending deadlines, projects to film, events to attend and write about, assistantships, extra-curriculars, jobs outside of school, actual studying, and of course trying to find enough time to cram in a social life and sleep. But the worst of the all is that dreaded virus we always seem to catch mid-semester: procrastination. It’s contagious…so don’t give in! I won’t lie, this was one of the most difficult things to handle but that’s why it’s a learning lesson. We learn to not procrastinate, (or do we?), we learn to get everything turned in on time, we learn to take one weekend off from drinking to catch up on schoolwork and sleep, and we learn to get any extra help we may need. As busy as my classmates were, and as much as we all struggled during those hard days, we all came out alive.

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Lesson #3: Maintaining Good Emotional/Mental/Physical Health
There will be weeks where you feel extra frazzled and overwhelmed, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. Stress can trigger so much of your emotional, physical, and mental health. It’s important to make sure you try and get plenty of sleep. Planning on pulling an all-nighter to finish that last project or study for an exam? Forget it…just go to bed and come back to it in the morning. Or, if you followed Lesson #2 and try to get everything done on time by planning accordingly, you won’t be in that situation. Avoid procrastination at all costs, as that is the number one trigger of stress.

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Lesson #4: Taking Advantage of Resources
Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have a university basement that’s fully equipped with every single camera, recorder, tripod, etc. known to mankind. Not to mention, we have department newsletters that offer lists of internship opportunities, drop-in career advice time slots, or the excellent list of faculty advisors who are always just an email away if we ever need guidance. One of the best things about BU’s College of Communication is the amount of invaluable resources handed to us at any and all times. You’re spending enough time and money into your education, so why not take advantage of all the freebies and sources while you can? It’s also important to take advantage of the amazing courses offered every semester, whether they are within or outside your intended concentration. It’s also about learning for the sake of learning and practicing for the sake of getting better; grad school isn’t about regurgitating textbook materials on an exam to receive a grade. It’s about fundamental learning and really soaking in the content we are exposed to every day. We are offered a practical, hands-on vocational education where we learn lessons outside of textbook academia. We’re also given extracurricular activities with several different publications around campus such as the BU Buzz, The Daily Free Press, Good Morning BU, BU News Service, etc. Don’t think of joining publications as a chore—think of it as an opportunity to network, gain experience, get inspired, get published, and have some fun.

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Overall, it’s been an amazing first semester at COM and it makes me sad to think that in only a year I’ll be saying goodbye to this program, professors, and the wonderful friends I’ve made in such a short amount of time. In just over three months, I’m better equipped and more than ready to take on the spring semester, where I’ll be taking 20 credits, writing for Boston University News Service (BUNS) and a graduate assistantship waiting. But hey, that’s what I signed up for, isn’t it?

 

Guest blogger: PR grad student shares her first semester experience at COM

By Becca Liudzius
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

The halls of BU’s College of Communication (COM) are much quieter now that everyone has settled into what many consider the most stressful week of all—finals week. Lucky for me, and for most other COM grad students, my semester ended last Wednesday with the last day of classes. No, I did not have final exams, but yes, I did have four (that’s right, four!) final presentations within a three-day stretch. As I sat back in my desk last Wednesday night after my Writing for Media Professionals final presentation, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally done with all my work. I had successfully completed my first semester of graduate school.

Now, don’t let me confuse you… this semester wasn’t just all stress and no fun. Sure, the adjustment from being an undegrad to a studious “adult” in graduate school was difficult, especially when it happened all in one year, but my first semester as a Public Relations grad student at BU has overall been an incredible experience.

Some of the hi934808_10203805522673568_1393775127967161284_nghlights of my semester include:

My first weekend: What better way to start the semester than with Boston Calling (a three-day music festival on City Hall Plaza in the heart of Boston). I went with a couple of my friends and it was an awesome experience! Despite us having to evacuate for a couple hours due to a severe thunderstorm, we still got to see Lorde and Childish Gambino.

My Professors: This has been the first semester of my life that I have genuinely liked all of my professors. All four have been so helpful and knowledgeable.  I am so grateful to have such great mentors as I embark upon my grad school journey.

Group projects: Yes, group projects!  A task I absolutely despised in undergrad has become a lot more bearable, even fun at times. Group projects are now an experience where I can look forward to input and collaboration from my peers, and not worry about having to do all of the work myself.

Cooking: Having always had a meal plan at my undergrad, I never really learned to cook. At all. The beginning of this semester was filled with frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets, but now I have learned that cooking can be really fun and yummy. Adult life, here I come!

BuzzFeed: For my aforementioned writing class, our final project was to interview someone interesting. I took a long shot by emailing one of my favorite writers from BuzzFeed asking to interview him. He said yes, and I got to go to the BuzzFeed office over Thanksgiving break and interview him. That was probably my favorite thing I did this semester.

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Overall, this fall has been great. I am looking forward to next semester (especially my Nonprofit Public Relations class with Professor Downes and my internship with Peace First). But before that, my winter break will consist of much need sleep, my mom’s home cooking, some reading for leisure, and lots and lots of Netflix.

Have any questions for our PR graduate student, Becca? Ask her in the comment section below!

If you’re interested in finding out more about all graduate programs offered through BU’s College of Communication, make sure to visit our website here.

 

 

 

International Students

A helping hand for the international students in COM’s Journalism graduate program

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

All Journalism graduate students at BU’s College of Communication are required to take JO721- Journalism Principles/Techniques. Every fall, Professor Christopher Daly teaches a section of JO721 designed for all new international grad students in the Journalism program.

Alongside classes, Prof. Daly does his bit to help these same students acclimate to American culture and the education system. “In a program like journalism, a lot of our assignments depend on cultural awareness. If the students need to tackle topics like the Red Sox, Halloween and Black Friday they need to have a general knowledge of American folkways and society, as they cannot be expected to have that exposure coming from another country” he says.

The American exposure begins early in the semester, when Daly invites students to his home so they can get a first-hand impression of an American household. Daly is also known to bring alumni and other experienced journalists into his classroom to speak to the international students.

The positive influence Daly’s class and efforts have on international students is apparent through the grad students who have been in the program for a few semesters. “My more experienced students come into class and happily and spontaneously testify that they got a lot better over the course of their first year. ” says a proud Daly.

Those grad students who visited Daly’s current students had a lot of advice to offer. Third-semester Journalism student Claire Giangrave told them about how she would ask American students who were better than her to let her read their work. She would look at what they did and imitate it. “The truth is, you have to work harder and better than the others. I made it my goal to compare myself with the best, not just among my peers, but also with great journalists and professors.” she said. She also advised the students to not hesitate to ask for help from fellow students and BU’s amazing faculty. Claire herself moved to Boston from Rome.

Prim Chuwiruch, another third-semester Journalism student from Bangkok, advises new grad students to relax. “ I know that it sounds like the most easiest piece of advice but it’s true. Once you take a breather and get yourself accustomed to everything in this new city, things will fall into place on their own and you’ll look back and wonder why you ever stressed out so much in the first place.”

A couple weeks ago, Melanie Lidman, an alumnus from the University of Maryland, visited Daly’s international class. Lidman now writes for The Times of Israel and the Global Sisters Report. The entire section pepped up when Lidman told stories about her reporting experiences in troubled parts of the world including Egypt and Israel. She also offered some sound advice for those pursuing a career in the journalism industry: “You will make mistakes along the way. It’s a long journey to grow as a writer and move your career forward,” she told the class.

Are you an international student looking to apply to BU? Find out more about the application process here.

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I spent my first two weekends of grad school in a journalism bootcamp… and I liked it

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

I remember when I registered for my fall 2014 Print Journalism graduate classes at BU’s College of Communication (COM). I took a good hard look at my schedule… I thought for sure there was a mistake. A typo. An abomination.

There, in black and white, on my BU Student Portal were the words “Multimedia Toolkit: Saturdays-Sundays 9-5:30 P.M.”

DAY 1- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6:  What I thought was just a sick joke, quickly turned to a harsh reality. Bright and early, I was on the Green Line with my backpack, blurry-eyed, hung-over and asking myself why on earth I was going to campus on a weekend. It was definitely boot camp alright. I felt as though I had joined the military.

Upon arriving at COM, we first learned how to rent equipment from the basement of COM. This included a Nikon camera, boom mic, and video/sound recorders (don’t worry, as I didn’t know what a boom mic was either). That day, Professor Peter Smith taught us everything we needed to know about operating a Nikon camera. He explained things in a “For Dummies” manner, so those who had never touched a camera before were not lost. We learned about camera terms including, aperture, light, F-Stops, ISO, etc. To say it was not a bit overwhelming for the first day would be a lie, but we all worked together and managed to get by.

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Photo of Lauren Westberg by Pankaj Khadka, MS Photojournalism ’15

After a lengthy lecture, we were given a few hours to go outside, get some fresh air (thank goodness), and take some test shots for practice. I’ve messed around with friends’ Canons and Nikons before, but I never knew what it really meant to fix apertures, quicken/slow down shutter stops, or how to fix lighting. It was incredibly interesting and actually quite enjoyable realizing all I had been missing out on in the photo world. Photography was always something I had been interested in, but I never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone to pursue the art. This boot camp reminded me of how multimedia skills and the art of photography are such important, integral parts of journalism and storytelling.

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Photo of Paul Dudley by Gina Kim, MS Journalism ’16

DAY 2- SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7:  Today would be the day we learned how to use Adobe Lightroom. It sounds easier than it was, as there was so much information to take and remember. For our practice assignment, we had to upload nine finalized photos onto our Smug Mug accounts. Each photo had to meet specific requirements, such as different F-stops, a sequence shot, an action shot, etc. Once we actually started editing on the computer, Lightroom wasn’t too difficult to get the hang of, which was a relief. I think the lecture just sounded a lot more complicated than it actually was.

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Photo of Michelle Marino by Ann Wang

Over the next two weeks, we were expected to complete a multimedia project that determined our final grade.  The project entailed taking specific photos of our subject (our partners we chose for the duration of the boot-camp), and a feature mini-documentary on our subjects.

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Photo of Paul Dudley by Gina Kim, MS Journalism ’16

DAYS 3 & 4- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13-14: This weekend we learned how to record video. Now, I’m no stranger to a video recorder (I formed an all-girl rock band in high school with my four best friends and made movies and music videos), but I still had a lot to learn.

Additionally, we learned how to use a mic and audio recorder, so that we could practice editing and syncing our audio and video footage in Final Cut Pro. This weekend was also when brainstormed ideas for our final multimedia projects. My partner Paul and I wanted to come up with a creative way of sharing our unique stories, like a feature piece of each other. That part wasn’t too tough; my subject was interesting, funny, inspiring, and intelligent. My biggest issue was trying to showcase all the things I wanted to about my partner in just two minutes.

Multimedia boot camp was a weekend class, but it didn’t mean our tasks were limited to just that Saturday and Sunday. My partner and I had to plan out production schedules, shoot b-roll, and edit. Luckily, we both were flexible and made it work. Click on the picture below to watch my video on Broadcast Journalism graduate student, Paul Dudley.

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POST BOOT CAMP REFLECTION:  Now that our class has been done for weeks, I have to be honest: physically, that class was a nightmare. It was tough being on campus all day, sacrificing our weekends and our freedom to go out to bars on Friday/Saturday nights.

However, it was DEFINITELY worth it. Even though I am in Print Journalism, I now know how to shoot, edit, use Adobe Lightroom, and operate Final Cut Pro 10! I realize what a blessing this course actually was, as it made me recognize the value of a journalist who can master multiple skills such as, producing, writing, shooting, and editing. This class is another addition to my list of somewhat “impressive” achievements on my resume, so hopefully it’ll give me more credibility as to what I can accomplish in the newsroom or out in the field.

Although going to school on the weekends was tough, it opened my eyes to the real-life demands of this profession. When it comes to reporting, journalism has no set schedule or designated weekends off. Journalism doesn’t wait for anyone. You have to be on top of things. I know, for sure, that later down the line during our successful careers (thanks BU), we will encounter many occasions where we sacrifice sleep, food, and a life for a story. Being a journalist means we eat, breathe, and live this field. It’s in our blood.

Want to know more about our Master’s Program in Journalism? Visit our page to learn how you can become a part of BU’s College of Communication. 

Check out Broadcast Journalism graduate student and COMgrad blogger, Nikita Sampath’s video from the Multimedia Toolkit boot camp class.

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Let us know what you think of our bloggers’ work in the comment section below!

 

 

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I survived my first month of grad school! Here’s how…

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

It’s been a little over a month since graduate school has been in full swing. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of the T, the transit schedules and the eccentric teaching styles of some professors, I am bursting to say, I LOVE IT. That’s right. You got me, world. I admit it: I LOVE SCHOOL. I love the chaos, the stresses of impending deadlines, making sure I read the right chapters from my 2014 edition Media Law textbook, and the works. I love it all. I forgot how great it is to be back in the classroom. But did I ever stop and think about WHY exactly I love school, aside from having a sick sort of fetish for the anxiety and stress?

As student in the Journalism grad program, I am currently enrolled in 16 credits (actually, 14 since the Multimedia boot camp class is finally over after two full, grueling weekends). As for the rest of my schedule, I am happy to say I’m thoroughly enjoying all of my classes; however, there are a couple that especially stand out for me.

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I love my Journalism Principles & Techniques course. Every day we’re treated like we’re thrown into a newsroom and forced to approach every assignment as though we are real-life reporters. At first I was extremely intimidated by the class, but I soon realized this course will probably be one of the most important, practical courses I will take during my time at BU. Criticism is a daily part of our routine, but nonetheless, it’s what improves us as budding journalists and future reporters. I raise my hand at every chance to volunteer to have my paper read and critiqued in front of the entire class, something that the undergrad me would have never dreamed of having the guts to do; but here, there’s no such thing as a comfort zone. Journalism Print & Tech shoves us out there in the open and sees if we fight back. So far, I think I’m fighting back pretty well.

Media Law–this is probably the course for which I do the most work and real studying (don’t tell my other professors). This course is more academic, theory based, whereas most of my other classes are more practical and hands on. Media Law definitely intimidated the daylights out of me, and I struggled to keep up with the material in class for the first two weeks of the semester. I literally didn’t know what was going on the first few classes, and when I tried opening my copy of “Major Principles of Media Law”, safe to say, I didn’t understand a single word in the first chapter. Defenses against libel and slander? What’s that? What the heck is a “ride-along”? I knew right away this wasn’t a class that I could just “skate on by” without having to do much studying; it’s a lot of reading and constant reviewing. I’ve been repeating this to my classmates every day…you just can’t cram for a class like Media Law. It’s the same way you can’t cram for things like math or physics or chemistry back in the good old undergrad days. You have to constantly practice, be proactive, and stay on top of the reading. I had a feeling that amidst all of the practical courses I’m was taking, one would require me to dust off that old school method of studying from undergrad.

After I bombed my first “surprise” quiz (yep, we are subjected to those every week and so we’re always constantly on the edge of our seats), I decided it would be in my best interest to meet with the professor. With his help and some time, I eventually discovered the secrets behind skimming, pinpointing the vital concepts, applying the textbook material to the lectures in class, and the importance of participating during lecture. Now I’m proud to say I think I’ve got the hang of Media Law. See, these are all basic rules of old-fashioned education…we did this during college, and grad school is no different.

So far, my classes in graduate school have helped me realize that the mechanics you learn throughout your whole life can be utilized beyond college and post-graduate work. There will always be challenges, and a Masters program is no cakewalk. You have to bite the bullet, roll up your sleeves, and get your hands dirty. Time management is so important, whether you’re juggling three different jobs plus a full load of classes, or having assignment after assignment after assignment; it’s up to you whether you fight back or not. It’s your responsibility to know what’s going on in class and most of all understand what you’re really here for. That’s right…it’s about YOU. Ask yourself why you’re here, and perhaps that’ll remind you of the levels and magnitudes of success that you have the potential to reach, once you know why you’re willing to put in the effort.

I used to think going to school was a chore, something to complete because that’s what was expected of me. I wanted to stick it to the man… stick it to the establishment, or the power-that-be. BU COM has changed all of that, fortunately. You know that old cliché: “if you love what you do, you literally don’t work a single day in your life.” Whoever invented that phrase, they weren’t kidding. Graduate school really reminds me of that. You literally have to love being here, and you have to love what you are doing. Not a single person goes into any of our classes dreading lecture or dreading an assignment. Nobody is annoyed at how busy their schedules are. Everyone wants to be here. They are proactive, responsible, and brilliant. It is nothing like college where we’d always whine, “Man, forget that 8 a.m. I have to go to tomorrow, I’m just going to blow it off and sleep in” or “I’m way too hungover for class…do you want to go in there and sign the roll sheet for me?” None of that here! If you aren’t making the most of your class lectures, textbook materials and aren’t interested in how to get one step closer to success, then what on earth are you doing here? Given all the time and money we are investing in grad school, we better make sure we take advantage of the exclusive opportunities being served to us on a silver platter.

image1 (1)But, before I go, please do NOT think grad school is all work and no play. Although I have deadlines to fight and surprise quizzes to constantly be on the lookout for, I know it’s important to set aside time to still maintain a social life and do fun things around the city (but only after I finished my homework!). Thank goodness we aren’t stuffy academics who spend hours in research labs. We’re expected to be social, to go out and open up to others, interact with peers and most of all, have fun with what we’re doing. As a journalist, you can’t afford to be a shy introvert or afraid to be around people. So yes, you are allowed to (or in this case, implored) to have a life! It all starts with your attitude and again, as I mentioned before, time management. Having a healthy balance between everything is a great way to know that you have it all together. Forget that triangle of doom that made you choose between a social life versus good grades versus sleep. You can ace every category, as long as you know how to organize yourself.

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How did your first month of grad school go? Please share any funny stories or survival tips in the comment section below.

Not a College of Communication student? Tell us what program(s) you are interested in and why!