By Meoghan Swain
As the communications industry rapidly changes, the Communication Department at Flagler College prepares students for their future careers by hosting COM Week from March 6 through March 9 to help students understand the changing field.
Throughout the week, students can attend panels, lectures and workshops that connect students to communication professionals to get an idea of what their careers may be like post-graduation.
Students will be able to direct questions to a wide variety of guest speakers including Flagler alumni, current Flagler employees, and other professionals in communication fields.
One special COM week event will be a retrospective of one of the films by alumni, Russel Brownley, a director and cinematographer who passed away last year.
“We are going to honor him by doing a retrospective of his creative work. His brother, Alex, who is also an alum of the program, is coming back to introduce his work. It’s a really nice opportunity for our students to see this wonderful creative journey an alum took.” said Jim Gilmore, a visiting filmmaker who currently teaches production.
COM week, which the department plans year-round, is a great opportunity for students to explore their projected career fields and talk to professionals who have gone through similar student programs.
Because the communications field has changed significantly since the boom of social media, students face the issue of dodging “fake news” and disinformation in the industry today.
Students can get advice on how to work under these pressures throughout the week by attending lectures by Joy Mayer and Ben Fraiser as they enlighten students on how to work around the fragmented media.
They can also attend the “War of the (Information) Worlds” panel which will discuss the global phenomenon of false and misleading narratives that ultimately incites violence in our world.
More information about COM week including events that will take place, guest speakers, and the schedule can be found here.
COM week is only a four-day example of what the communications department does for its students year-round. The department works hard to provide a rigorous and inclusive education for students.
At Flagler, students have a variety of communication pathways they can choose to focus on. These programs include digital media production, journalism, media studies, strategic communications.
Flagler is continuing to expand their communications department by exploring new opportunities and adding a new major beginning in the 2023 fall semester.
“The new cinematic arts program is a new major that launches next year. It’s an interdisciplinary major using courses in communication, theatre, art and creative writing. It’s designed to allow students to kind of build their own program based around the ideas of cinema and the arts,” Gilmore said.
The communications department also contains unique student programs outside of the majors and minors that can help students explore their interests.
Students can build their love for music and radio by getting involved with 88.5 Flagler College Radio. WFCF is one of the largest college stations that allow students to get hands-on experience with broadcast technology.
The station has also been used by radio personalities from outside of the college such as former NPR host, David Greene, who has been particularly impressed with the program.
“I have been blown away. I’ve now been here three times to do three different shows and I can just tell from the people and from the facility that this is a state-of-the-art place where someone can learn a ton about the technical aspects and about storytelling. It’s a place where learning is encouraged and I fight for places like this to exist on college campuses and I’m so happy that it’s here,” Greene said.
Another highly recognized program at Flagler College is its student-run paper, the Gargoyle. This program allows students who are interested in news writing an opportunity to write on topics that they have interest in.
The Gargoyle has had a great deal of success and often wins contests against other university newspapers. They often compete against larger state schools such as the University of Miami and the University of Florida.
“The Gargoyle definitely punches above its weight and we think that’s because we allow students to write what they’re passionate about,” said Wyatt Parks, a senior at Flagler and editor for the Gargoyle.
The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is also a program that prepares students for their future careers after college. This extracurricular mainly focuses on professional development and helps students build resumes and search for jobs.
Chapter President of PRSSA and senior, Matthew Dutton, has been involved with the communications department throughout his four years at Flagler. He gives an idea of what students can expect by joining PRSSA.
“We had guest speakers from different areas, including some alumni and some professionals within communications or public relations. It mainly just helps students figure out their goals and how they can get there through college,” Dutton said.
Communications students are able to explore their desired fields and reach their goals because of the familial community at Flagler College. The class size and openness of professors make students more willing to learn and ask questions.
“I think there’s a really approachable and friendly atmosphere here. I don’t think there’s a feeling of intimidation by students. They feel pretty free and open to approach and ask questions and get advice. And that kind of family feeling you won’t find at a lot of other schools,” Gilmore said.
The inclusiveness and understanding of the St. Augustine community is something unique to Flagler that is also very beneficial for communications students. The people of the city are understanding and often open to helping Flagler students.
“Everyone understands that we’re filmmakers, we’re journalists, we’re storytellers and we are out there and interacting with businesses and clients and doing our storytelling in the streets and everyone supports what we do,” said Nicholas Serinati, assistant professor in communication.
Flagler College’s communications department works hard to provide well-rounded programs and opportunities that will help students build their portfolios so they can be fully prepared for the work field.
“The more skills you can obtain before you get out of college the better off you will be in the job market. We almost have to be a jack-of-all-trades in a way to really be employable,” Serinati said.