COM Career Fair: Networking for Grads and Undergrads

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

Whenever I ask people for advice on job searching, all I hear is: network.  How am I supposed to have time to network while in grad school? How can I go to employers and just strike up a conversation about me and what I want to do with my life?

Actually, I can, and I did!  COM’s Career Fair (Feb 24 and 25) gave me that exact opportunity.  Over 20 employers from all three communication disciplines came to BU specifically to chat with more than 340 COM students about potential employment opportunities.  Among the attendees were Arnold Worldwide, Big Block Productions, Communispace, Gupta Media, Ketchum PR, SHIFT Communications, NESN and WCVB-TV-ABC.

The career fair was held over two days, with representatives from each company set up at tables.  Students could talk to any company that was there, giving them the chance to both learn more about the companies and share about themselves.

“We try to get a mix so that all three departments are covered,” says Kelly Forde, Assistant Director of COM Career Services.  “We’re looking for employers that have both internship and full time opportunities.”

Career Fair

Alexis Feinberg, a graduate PR student, was particularly excited to meet with Ketchum PR regarding a potential summer internship.  “I wanted to find out more about the program, if they indeed had an internship program, and what it means for a graduate-level student,” she said.  More specifically, Feinberg was interested in Ketchum’s subsidiary, Harrison &Shriftman – a fashion PR firm and showroom based in Miami.  “Serena, the Talent Acquisition Manager for Ketchum was more than happy to answer my questions and was open to connecting my information with Harrison &Shriftman.”

Forde describes making connections as just one part of the overall goal at the career fair.  “Obviously jobs or internships are really the end goals,” said Forde. “It’s also to practice: to get more comfortable talking to employers, to get more comfortable talking about themselves and selling themselves, and just to kind of up their professionalism.”

COM Career Services also opened up more resume hours and sent out lists of the companies weeks in advance to give students time to prepare.  Ultimately, Forde explains that it is up to the students to come prepared.  “Showing that you do your research sometimes is the best way to set yourself apart,” she said.

Whether it’s finding a job, internship, or just introducing yourself to employers, the career fair is a great way to get your name out there and practice.  I have to admit, I was a little intimidated since I had never been to one before, but I’m so glad I went.  According to Forde,“Every connection is a good connection.” So why not start connecting?  Lord knows I’m going to need a job soon!

One semester down, two to go! I can do this! Right?

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

Last semester was definitely one for the books.  I dove head first into grad school and faced the roaring currents head-on.  But after a well-deserved (and much needed) winter break, I’m already back in the thick of it.  Chapters and chapters of reading seem to be piling up faster than I can even order my books.  And yet, something feels different this semester.

For one thing, I finally feel like I’ve got this whole “balance” thing down (even though sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy trying to get all my work done and actually have a life on the side).  When I take a second to stop and think about it though, I know I’m ten times more confident this semester than the last one.

Yes, the workload is still just as intense, if not more. but this time I know how to manage it better.  I know how to prioritize and organize my homework so I’m not overwhelmed.  And I know that if I don’t read every single word of every single assigned reading, it’s ok! Professors care more about understanding the big picture than memorizing and regurgitating minute details.

As much as I may feel more confident and ready to take on a new semester of grad school, I know the stress will still build up.  It’s inevitable when you’re in grad school because frankly, it comes with the territory.  You knowingly sign up for a rigorous academic curriculum and convince yourself that it’ll be just like undergrad.  Unfortunately, it’s not, and you’re still going to forget to complete an assignment or cram the night before an exam.

Again, that’s ok! So what if I get too busy and can’t study for a test as much as I’d like to? And yes, I’m repeating that as much for you as I am for me.  Because even though I can say that it’s okay to screw up every once in a while, I know I inevitably will still stress about it.  Guess I’ll just have to click back to this post if I start to head towards a mental breakdown for a little encouragement.

Because I’ve done it once, and I can do it again. Right? Right.

 

COMLIGHT

A Laboratory for Visual Storytelling: COM’s New Cinema and Media Production MFA

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

We hear a lot at COM about the shifting media landscape. Every day, new technological advances are making it possible for us to produce and consume media in ways we never have before. Keeping up with technology is essential, but no matter what industry you’re in, one thing is clear: telling a compelling story is at the core of everything we do. COM’s newly re-launched MFA in Cinema and Media Production, spawned out of this philosophy, provides an advanced degree for students interested in taking film beyond its fundamentals and honing their storytelling skills.

“What we have come to realize is students now are much more technically sophisticated,” says Jan Egleson, Associate Professor of the Practice in Film & Television. “In the old days, film school’s function was to teach people arcane technology. Students today are much more adept at using equipment but they still have the difficulty of telling stories. That’s where we’ve been pushing the program.” Though the new MFA does also involve technical skills, they mainly function as support tools for the film’s overall objective. “The focus is storytelling and the skills of fiction film-making,” Egleson says. “You’re working with actors, breaking down scenes, and structuring a story to convey it visually.”

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Prospective candidates for the program, which launches in Fall 2015, are required to come in with a baseline of both technical and storytelling skills. Whether they’ve learned it on their own or through an undergraduate film program, they must demonstrate they’ve already mastered the basics to apply to the films they’ll work on during the course of their MFA. When accepted, students already know their designated film making role, whether it be director, producer, or cinematographer. This fall, three producers, three cinematographers, and six directors will join the crew. Before first semester, students are asked to pitch three film ideas, which are continually honed and vetted until arriving on one film concept that will be the focus for the duration of the program.

As the film landscape continuously changes, so do the types of films students will work on. “We’re platform agnostic,” Egleson says. “If you come in and say I want to make a web series – ten, 10-minute webisodes – you can do that. If you want to make a 30 minute film, that works. As long as you can convince us of the clarity of your vision we don’t care what the platform is. That’s the shift.” If you’re dead set on working towards a full length film, you might work on a section of it or a shorter version, says Egleson, which is how many full length features get their start.

CMPBlogPhoto4The new Cinema and Media Production MFA will continue its adaptive response to the new world after the switchover from conventional film to digital media. “Once that happens, it becomes very apparent to everybody that the focus needs to shift to the ideas behind this stuff. It’s very liberating,” Egleson says. “It means we can now be a laboratory for visual storytelling.”

Are you excited about the new face of the MFA in Cinema Media Production or have you thought about applying? Do you think it will support the changing film making landscape? Learn more here.

Bryan Sih

The Redstone Film Festival 2015

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

The Redstones Film Festival is held each spring semester by the Film and Television Department at COM. The festival showcases works submitted by both graduate and undergraduate students. Films are awarded based on several categories: best film, best cinematography, best screenplay, best editing, best sound design, Fleder/Rosenberg best short screenplay; the festival is basically like the Oscars of Boston University.

This year’s 1st place winner and the winner of Best Screenplay, was Bryan Sih (COM’14.)  His film Winter/Spring, was about a Spanish-speaking couple working on a farm.

What inspired you for this film?

Lots of things. I started thinking of parenthood after reading Sherwood Anderson’s The Untold Lie. I began questioning the bringing of a child into the world when adults are just as confused as a child. Immigrants always inspire me with their bravery and often-tragic necessity to seek an alien world, and so I included that in the film. Then there are the actors themselves, since the film relies on improvisation, they are responsible for a lot. Unfortunately, I wrote the whole script for the spring. When we scouted the farm, it was covered in three feet of snow that refused to melt so I rewrote the film on the spot.

How long and what type of preparation did this film take?

I started preparing the script in December and we were still writing into April. I like to lock myself into a room, get a large piece of paper and write the scenes in blurbs all over the page. It usually lasts a few days and I am constantly rewriting it. I am a terrible writer, so the real preparation begins with the actors. I also have the actors work beforehand. For Winter/Spring, they drove up to the farm together without the crew and when they arrived on set, had formed their own private language. It made them come across as a self-enclosed unit.

RedstoneFirst place winner Bryan Sih (COM’14) flanked by his actors, Herlin Navarro and David Quiroz

What is the message that you wanted to portray in this film?

It was more a question: what does it mean to be ready for parenthood? It is a film about being on the cusp of great life change and not fully being ready, but learning how to work through this struggle together, with tenderness, forgiveness and communication.

You don’t speak Spanish, but your film is in Spanish with English subtitles, why is that?

I grew up in a diverse town with many immigrant families, they’re part of my world. The couple in this film is isolated somewhere in North America, and they’ve retained their spoken language. The film focuses primarily on their relationship actually, not ethnicity. Also, directing in a language you don’t speak makes observing the things that matter all the more vivid.

What does the future entail for you now that you’ve won the Redstone?

The Redstones gave me a camera to shoot more films with, so I hope to be more productive. I’ve learned so much from my experience with Winter/Spring and can’t wait to dive into the next project.

Alumni Spotlight: Megan Turchi and Life after Grad School

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

Alumni Spotlight: Megan Turchi and Life after Grad School

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t it feel like getting a job is constantly on the mind?  It’s only the second of my three semester program, but all I can think about is finding a good job or internship this summer and then where that will lead for employment after graduation in December.  And yet, just my school work keeps me from finding time to write a decent cover letter.

What if I can’t find a job at all?  Or if I find one but hate it?  I think it’s safe to say that most grad students are feeling this way (and even undergrads for that matter).  If you’re a part of this group, let me tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Megan Turchi (COM ’14) finished her Masters in Journalism this past December.  Now, this BU alum works as a staff writer for Boston.com covering jobs, cars, and real estate.  And she enjoys it!

What’s a day at your job like?

Every single day is different, which I love! A typical day involves phone interviews for articles I am working on and sometimes getting out to do an in-person story. I did a profile on a dog walker a few weeks ago and tagged along while she walked dogs.  It was great! This job entails constantly learning new things and becoming an expert on a variety of interesting subjects.

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Megan Turchi at the Boston Auto Show. Her Instagram caption: “Sitting in a $620,000 Rolls-Royce that is the only one in the US, one out of 20 in the world, for work, obviously. #bostonautoshow”

What was your major at BU and why?

I got my masters in print journalism, but it was very multimedia focused and I took a variety of audio and video classes as well.  I chose it because I thought it would be an interesting way to use my undergraduate degree in American Studies. I knew I loved to write and I knew I had an interest in telling stories about fascinating people and topics.

Looking back, how did BU prepare you for your job?

BU prepared me a lot! Not only did I have fabulous professors with a lot of journalism experience, but I was thrown in to the real world from day one.  We reported from the ground right from our first class and that made my internship and job now so much easier.

Your advice for current COM grad students looking for jobs?

My advice would be to respect and learn as much from your professors as you can. Not only do they have lots of connections to jobs and internships, also a lot of experiences they can share with you. Be open to all kinds of jobs – you may not do exactly what you want to do at the beginning, but any experience is a learning experience!

MTurchi2Megan Turchi reporting on the “sleepwalker” statue at Wellesley College for a BU News Service report. Here’s the link to the report, done by her and one of her classmates from COM.