At a university with approximately 20,000 students seeking an undergraduate degree, the communication department at George Mason University offers several courses to help students stand out from the crowd.
One of the biggest concerns that college students have is finding a job. Traditionally, internships have been a key stepping stone on that path.
“Internships help gain professional experience while also reaping the benefits of networking,” said Mark Green, a communication professor at GMU.
Green began teaching at Mason in the fall semester of 2008. He has taught courses ranging from Feature Writing to News Editing, and he is now coordinator of a fairly new course, Comm249/Communication Industry Experience.
Comm249 was launched in the spring of 2012. At first, the communication department only offered an internship course for students with at least 75 accumulated credits, but with CIE students with 45-to-75 credits and at least 6 communication credits can benefit from learning outside the classroom as well.
Green explains that students need experience to get experience.
"It is much more common for students to be doing internships during the semester," Green said.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for younger students to get their feet wet, and if you start at a younger age you can build up your resume.”
Green also explains the importance of networking.
“So much is about who you know, and based on my experience, there is no way for the class to not be an asset,” Green said.
Steven Klein, a communication professor as well as the coordinator of both the journalism and electronic journalism and sports communication minor, worked with Green on launching Comm249.
“This course has been a long time coming,” said Klein. “Professor Green and I have long believed that students needed a much earlier option for internships.”
That is just what this course has to offer.
“Now a student can take an internship as early as second semester sophomore year,” Klein said. “Before Comm249, students had to wait until second semester junior year. That’s just too late.”
Located in Fairfax, Va., GMU is surrounded by numerous internship and employment opportunities. With Washington, D.C. just miles away from campus, students need that small push in the right direction.
Now a days, companies are looking at more than just your grade point average.
“Employers are looking the hardest at the internships you've completed, more so than your grades or even the school you went to," said Peter Milligan, a recent communication graduate from Mason, who currently works in the public relations department at SAGE Communications in Tysons Corner, Va.
He considers this new internship course to be beneficial for any student looking to find a job right out of college.
"I think it's great that the Mason communication department offers an internship course to younger students,” Milligan said. “One of the hardest things about finding the right internship is knowing where to start looking.”
In addition to the courses offered by the communication department, Mason’s University Career Services plays host to networking events, job fairs and advises students on career choices. Many students graduate with a bachelor’s degree, but not every student has real-world working experience under their belt.
Now, Mason students have an additional opportunity to gain experience.
For more information on Comm249/Communication Industry Experience, contact professor Mark Green- firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the communication department’s website- communication.gmu.edu.
March 29, 2013