By Abby Bittner | firstname.lastname@example.org
Every March, Flagler College hosts its annual communications week, which involves speakers and panelists from various occupations in the field, ranging from journalism to strategic communication.
Known as COM Week to students and faculty, this event aids in bringing students closer to real-world professionals in communication. This year, the event will feature Pulitzer Prize winner Roy Gutman, presentations from alumni, a panel on climate change, and President of And Then Communications Sharon McIntosh.
Dr. Jin Hammick, the coordinator for the event, works with on-campus public relations organizations Dow Advantage and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) to execute COM Week.
Hammick’s roles include recruiting speakers and organizing their travel accommodations. This year, the event is expanding to become one of the biggest yet.
“This time what I’m really excited about is not just this becoming large, but also we’re getting a lot of help and participation from faculty in other departments,” Hammick said. “We are also partnering with other themes too, like women’s history month, the diversity month, and the Pulitzer center. This time it’s not just about the communication department, it’s becoming a part of this big initiative across the campus.”
Hammick, who is also the faculty advisor of PRSSA, emphasizes the importance of COM Week not just for communication majors, but for all students on campus.
“I feel like this could be really beneficial to any major, and all Flagler students as well because, for example, business (majors) also need to learn media and communication. Communication in media, as you can see, is such an integral part of our life, so I think this is something that anybody could be quite interested in and can learn a lot from,” said Hammick, who has been teaching at Flagler since 2013.
She also believes that having hands-on experiences aids students in getting out of the classroom and into the real world of professional communication.
“Learning from textbooks and lectures, that’s not really going to get you to get a job in the real world,” Hammick said. “You really need to learn how things work in a real-life business setting.”
In her seventh year working with COM Week, Hammick understands that St. Augustine is not New York City, but finds ways to take that in stride.
“All the national multimedia companies and corporations and agencies aren’t near us, so you’ve got to invite them over,” she said.
With several new events happening at COM Week, including the first year with a theme – “Changing the World Through Communication” – and the first time Dow Advantage is involved, Hammick is looking forward to this year’s installment.
“I see the excitement, and I’m really happy to see that they are learning a lot from real-world people,” she said.
Tracey Eaton, chair of the communication department, has also had a hand in organizing COM Week, helping to bring in some speakers.
Eaton, similar to Hammick, anticipates that the annual event will help students gain quality experiences and knowledge from connecting with communication professionals.
“I hope it inspires people, because sometimes things in the classroom can get kind of artificial and abstract, but having people come in who are working in professional fields and who can describe what it’s like and what it takes for a student to get jobs in some of these fields,” he said. “I think that makes it all more real for students, and I think that’s a huge value.”
The professor added that COM Week can even be seen as an opportunity for work, as some students bring resumes and seek advice on their portfolios. The event also a good time for students to network with professionals in their field.
“We care a lot about it because we want our students to get jobs, we want them to be inspired, we want to help them in every way possible,” he said, “It’s a bridge between the educational experience and the professional world.”
You can find a schedule for COM Week here.