Category Archives: BU ComGrad

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COM grad students share their experiences from BU’s Washington program

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

There is no shortage of opportunities available to BU COM students seeking an internship. Between the rock star faculty, the countless Boston-based news outlets and publications, to the BU-run programs, you’d be hard-pressed to run out of places to send your resume. BU’s Washington, DC Internship Program is one of the invaluable resources available to us, allowing students interested in a number of different disciplines to study and intern in one of the world’s most influential capital cities. From health to public relations, politics to the arts, program participants are able to base their internship on a targeted field of study and take complimentary elective courses.

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I spoke with two graduate students currently enrolled in the Washington, DC program, to get an inside look at their internships. Dian Zhang, a third semester Business & Economics Journalism student originally from China, strives to be an international business reporter. Having completed her undergraduate degree in Business & Economics at BU, she has a solid business foundation that she wants to combine with her journalistic skills and multinational background. She has currently been with the Washington Program for one month.

dsc_0316“A lot of people come to Washington because they want to be involved in think tanks or politics. You see a lot of undergrads majoring in political science – they want to intern on the hill to work for a senator, but for me it’s not like that… I’d like to integrate my experiences to be a correspondent for Chinese media in the U. S. or go back to China and work for a U.S.-based journalism outlet…It’s really hard as an international student to find an internship, that’s the reality. If you can come to DC sponsored by the school and do an internship, it’s a good way to accumulate work experience. The program has been extremely helpful for me,” she says.

Dian is working at The Bond Buyer, a national trade newspaper focused on municipal bonds. Although her background is more general business, she says she’s been dealing with “a lot of numbers, reports, and statistics.” “I really enjoy it because it’s great to have the opportunity to get things published on a real, professional website and write stories with the help of editors and senior reporters. It’s been really rewarding,” she says.

10609420_341562349327303_7974710522429730936_n“The best thing about the program is that you’re not learning things you can get from a textbook. There’s a lot of practical professional training…We’re encouraged to meet a lot of people, go to conferences, and practice being social and professional. There is a class here every week based on the internship, and you also keep a journal about your work experience. If it weren’t for this assignment, I probably wouldn’t have taken the challenge to talk about my future goals,” says Dian. She goes on to say, “It’s important to step out of your comfort zone. I have a lot of friends that want to come here but they’re reluctant because they don’t want to leave Boston. It’s hard, but it’ll be great when you come to a new environment and learn new things.”

Jonathan Riley, also a third semester Journalism graduate student specializing in Political Reporting, has been in Washington, DC since August working for CNN’s Investigative Unit. “I’ve been interested in politics for a long time and DC is the place to be if you’re into politics,” he says. Although he can’t talk much about the specifics of his job, he explains: “Just being in Washington is a learning experience in itself. You can follow politics in the news but you don’t get a real sense of how the federal government works on a day-to-day, practical level until you’re here. When you’re here, no matter what you’re doing really, you’re in the middle of it.”

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“I think the Washington Program is a really great opportunity for BU students that a lot of other schools wish they could have. Particularly for grad students, and communication students in particular, I think it’s a terrific opportunity. DC is a huge journalism market. The federal government is here. National and international politics happens here, so there are great opportunities for people on the PR side of things as well. If you’re into politics, or even if you’re not sure and want to see if politics is something you could get interested in, I would definitely recommend the program,” he says.

If you’re interested in learning more about the program, an information session will be held Thursday, October 9 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in COM 317. Evening snacks will be provided, so if you’re in the market to grab a quick bite, you might gather some useful intel as well. Have you thought about a semester with the Washington Program? Do you plan on going to the information session? Comment 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!

Parents weekend

There’s Parents Weekend in grad school? What to do with your out-of-town guests in Boston

 By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

Even though it feels like the semester just got started, Parents Weekend is right around the corner (October 17-19)! New to Boston and wondering where in the world you are going to take your parents? Allow this BU veteran to help.

By now, most of us grad students have had our fair share of parents weekends.  Like most schools, BU has plenty of scheduled events and seminars throughout the weekend; but in general, they cater to the undergraduate crowd – such as the “Parenting Panel: Parenting During the College Years.  However, there will be an art exhibition at the College of Fine Arts’ Stone Gallery, a Movie Walking Tour of campus, and several other free events fit for graduate students and their parents.  See the full schedule of events here.

Looking for a little more action? See our Men’s Hockey team take on the U.S. National Under-18 team on Saturday at 7 p.m. in an exhibition match.  Just be sure to get your tickets in advance here.

Once you’ve had your fill of activities around campus, be sure to give your parents a solid snapshot of your new Boston home.

Fenway is both close to home and a Boston classic.  Just across the bridge from Kenmore, Fenway offers a glimpse at one of America’s most famous baseball institutions.  Not to mention the surrounding bars and restaurants.  My recommendations include Bar Louie for amazing appetizers, Landsdowne Pub for the atmosphere and Sweet Cheeks for barbecue.

Newbury Street is an absolute must if your family is even slightly interested in shopping and good food.  Newbury has stores for everyone, starting at Massachusetts Avenue with stores like Urban Outfitters and Forever 21, stretching all the way down to the Commons with high-end retailers such as Diane von Furstenberg.  Peppered along the way are all types of restaurants, including Joe’s American Bar and Grill, Stephanie’s and The Cafeteria.  You really can’t go wrong.  Once you reach the end of Newbury, be sure to enjoy the scenery at the Boston Commons and Public Gardens.  This is the best time of year to do so, while the leaves are turning and it’s not too terribly cold yet.

Want to take the tourist route? Walk your parents along the Freedom Trail and see the historical Faneuil Hall to get a taste of the rich history Boston has to offer. If you get hungry, grab a lobster roll from Quincy Market and check out even more shops and restaurants along the way.  And, if there’s time, get in line at Giacomo’s in the famous North End before 4 p.m. to experience some of the best authentic Italian food that Boston has to offer.  And don’t forget to stop by Modern Pastry for dessert.

What are your plans for Parents Weekend? Have any other recommendations or questions on how to entertain your out-of-town guests? Let us know in the comments section!

 

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Classmates and competition in grad school

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

One of the greatest aspects of grad school is the friends you make during your time. Instantly, you find a group of people that are going through the same thing as you, so you befriend them. The people around you offer to review your work and let you know what you need to add or take out before submitting it. Everyone is in the same-pressured situation as you, so it’s easy to quickly form a bond that continues to grow stronger, like a family.

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I met some of the greatest friends my first month here at Boston University, and for that, I could not be more thankful. When one of us is down, the others are always there to pick us up. When we all have the same project to do, it turns into a night with dinner and homework, spent laughing way more than students should be while doing homework. Everyone within the program is more than willing to help each other out; they’re the ones I call to go out with on the weekends, and the same ones I ask to reread my work.

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But then you go home and think about why you’re in grad school and the job you want in a year or so. Suddenly, you can see your competition; she’s the girl sitting across from you in class with the nice outfit and perfect makeup. She is also the same girl you just went to the bar with last weekend. You look to your left, and you see more of your competition. He is Mr. Personality with great hair that everyone loves. He is also one of the guys you had lunch with yesterday. The friends you make in the classroom are also the competition you face in the field. “Look around, these people are going to be your friends. But these people are also your competition,” my TA said on the first day of class.

When I first heard her say that, I chuckled, as I found it hard to believe we would one: all become good friends and two: compete with each other. Sadly, it’s the truth. Mr. Personality may be one of the funniest friends I have here at BU, but he is also the one that’s going to apply to that position at the Boston Globe when you apply too.

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Although at the end of the day, this unique friendship-phenomenon has its advantages. That competitiveness we find within grad school, subconsciously motivates us to better ourselves; run faster, swim harder, speak better, smile bigger. Grad school gives you a sense of healthy competition. You’re competitive with your friends because you want to do better, but you are also friends with your competition. You’re able to learn from each other and grow together as a unit, which will bring you one step closer to that dream job after graduation.

If you’re a graduate student here at COM, I would love to hear any of your stories or thoughts on befriending your competition! Not a graduate student, but interested in becoming part of our COM family here at BU? Learn more about our graduate programs by visiting our website.

Zuckoff talks about the challenges he faced while writing NYT best-seller: 13 Hours

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

This September marks the second anniversary of the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya. Boston University’s School of Communication (COM) had the privilege of commemorating this courageous act with the release of COM Journalism Professor, Mitchell Zuckoff’s, new book 13 Hours.

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With only nine months to write about what really happened to the six American security operators who stopped a mass killing of other Americans stationed in Benghazi, Zuckoff had his reservations. The telling of this controversial, behind the scenes story was seen by some as a threat to Zuckoff’s career; for at one point, he was told the publication could end his career. The media had already tainted the public’s mind about the attacks in Benghazi as one thing, tainting the publics mind before knowing the truth.

“If I took on the story,” said Zuckoff, “I had to become an expert on something that I knew nothing about in a short time.” Like most journalists, Zuckoff struggled with his feelings on the subject and how the public would react to what the security operators had to say about what truly happened. Zuckoff said his only obligation was to the truth, and quickly gained the respect and trust of the American soldiers to write his book.

Zuckoff chose to write the story in “tick tock” style, a version of a chronology where the author recreates the events in a step-by-step manner. A “tick tock” approach adds an element of quickness and makes the reader feel as if they are part of the action, as if there was a running clock. Zuckoff starts his book with narrations of the Americans giving background information and context as to whom they are. The reader is able to connect with the soldiers through the first three chapters before jumping into action in the fourth chapter. At this point in the story, the time is 9:42 p.m. on September 11, 2012, which marks the start all the action.

13 Hours follows six soliders; one of which passes away later that night. Out of the remaining five soldiers, three decided to come out to the public and tell their stories using their real names, while two chose to remain anonymous, yet another challenge that Zuckoff faced when writing this book. Although their names are changed, Zuckoff made sure that everything written about them in his book was 100% real and accurate.

13 Hours not only tells the truth about Benghazi, but it also reiterates the life lesson we hear over and over again: don’t judge a book by its cover. It has taken two years since the attacks for the truth to come out, but Zuckoff has proven that with a little bit of patience and research the truth will surface. “In our 24 hours news cycle where each tweet has to break news it’s good to have patience,” says Zuckoff.

Zuckoff’s book, 13 Hours, which is also a #1 New York Times non-fiction bestseller, is sold at book stores nationwide, including BU’s Barnes and Noble, as well as on Amazon.

WANT TO WIN A COPY OF 13 HOURS?

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For the next 13 hours, we are giving you a chance to win a copy of Professor Zuckoff’s book. We’ll pick the top tweets we get starting Tuesday, September 30th. 

How to participate:

Step 1: Follow us @BUcomgrad

Step 2: What happens in 13 hours as a #COMgrad student? Give us an inside look at your day using #COMgrad and we will pick the top tweets on Wednesday.