This was the first year I participated in COM Week events. I had heard of it before, but never made it to any of the events. I began the week with some preconceived expectations and assumptions, but I also set my mind to it that I would go to every event the week had to offer. I am so thankful that I did because COM Week far surpassed anything that I expected from it. Not only did I take away valuable information pertaining to communication as a profession, I learned beneficial lessons one is not likely to be exposed to in a classroom. I would like to share with you the top ten things I learned during the course of COM Week 2010.
10. In case you didn’t know, the Communication Department is pretty awesome. Although I have been a student in the Communication Department for two years now, I honestly did not know how amazing it really was until COM Week. The COM Showcase on Monday allowed me to get in-depth information on the various opportunities and organizations within the department. I learned about options I never knew existed and met some awesome people in the process. There are so many wonderful organizations in the COM Department, and speaking with the members and faculty advisors of those organizations made me want to be a part of all of them. Just hearing some of the opportunities that the members of different organizations have been presented with really makes you wonder why you didn’t get involved sooner. All of the communication organizations do some really cool things you would not even imagine and you get to tack that on as “experience,” count me in. You learn how easy it is to become involved and stay involved at COM Week. Plus, when I show up at an event or meeting for these organizations, I will know some familiar faces, which always makes new things a bit easier.
9. The instructors in the Communication Department want to help you succeed. I wouldn’t call this a new lesson, as we all have undoubtedly received help from our advisors or professors, but during COM Week it really shows how much they do care even if you are total strangers. COM Week gave me the chance to meet faculty within the COM Department I had never taken any of the courses they instruct or even spoken to before. All were happy to attend events and speak with students, even if they could only stop by for a few minutes. Dr. Galanes even conducted a workshop on ethical leadership in communication. She is the person at Missouri State to talk to about leadership, being the Provost Fellow for the Public Affairs Mission this year. Not hesitating to fit in time to share her knowledge and insights into valuable lessons she has learned, is a fine example of how much our faculty really does care.
8. “Every idea has an expiration date” –Sean Wheeler. As communicators, we always have to keep learning and evolving. You will never stop your education, even after graduation has come and gone. Be open to new things, always looking at trends and keeping up with the times. Dr. Galanes urges us to be able to adapt; a characteristic of a good leader is flexibility and openness to new ideas.
7. Alumni are not scary or intimidating, and I cannot wait to be one. The alumni were all excited to be back on campus and speaking with students. Several alums even traveled hundreds of miles to come back and share some wisdom with students and visit with faculty. Each one was relatable and helpful, easily approachable and enthusiastic. I cannot wait to be in their shoes, coming back to share my experiences with future communication students.
6. One thing that seemed to be the common tip given by alumni is to be well versed. Take classes in other disciplines, whether it is business, accounting, or any other course, those ahead of us recommend branching out into other departments. A broad knowledge base may make you a better candidate for employment, a better employee, and may make working with others easier.
5. Lead. As communication majors, we are often the influencers of the publics so it is important to be a good leader. It is imperative to “become an expert” in your field but always be open to learning more. Read often. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and just do the best you can.
4. Engage. Whether it is after you have discovered, listened and learned about what people have to say in social media or handling everyday tasks, it is essential to engage. When it comes to social media, Sean Wheeler advises talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing. However, these strategies can be applied to everyday life as well. As much as I try, I can’t do everything by myself. COM Week taught me to how important it is to connect with others, whether it is networking, brainstorming, or trying to complete a task, it is important to have others involved.
3. Change. We are the leaders of tomorrow. Think things over and always be aware of how your actions affect others. Always both inspire and embrace change.
2. Leaders learn by example. Find a mentor or sponsor, someone who you can look up to and learn from. Leaders are always searching for more and someone who can advise and guide you in at this point in our education is a great idea. This goes along with finding new opportunities, branching out, and always exploring.
1. You have got to get out there! Whether it is COM Week, or really any opportunity you have to possibly learn something new or challenge yourself, you have got to make that effort and try. Opportunities do not always just come to you; sometimes you have got to put in the effort to seek them. I walked away from COM Week with a list of new networking contacts, too many possible opportunities and things I wanted to be involved with to count, and valuable knowledge about the professional world of communication. If I had not gone, I would never know what I missed out on. The fact that I did attend and ended the week with so much more than what I started with makes me never want to miss anything like this again. You really never know, until you go.