Putting skills to work outside the box a good thing for Cedarville students

We have this saying in the Cedarville University Department of Communication: “What Can’t We Do?”

We put it on T-shirts, hashtag it, say it, etc.

The more students apply that to co- and extra-curricular activities while on campus, the better it prepares them to find work.

In addition to my journalism teaching responsibilities in the department, I also teach a writing class to communication majors. My sense is that what we discuss and learn in that class helps them think about writing in new ways. They are, after all, comm majors and want to know the best ways to communicate in whatever job they find.

There are obvious limits on what they can do. They can’t use their degree to be a nurse, an engineer, a school teacher or an astronaut. But they can work at hospitals, innovative companies, schools and even for NASA. All those places, and just about any other place open for business, needs people to do the work comm majors do. “Where Can’t We Work?” is another way to think about it.

I could say just about the same thing for journalism majors. We train them to be reporters and to do other aspects of journalism. But they are employable beyond those areas at businesses and non-profits. Same goes for broadcasting and digital media students. We just did a survey of recent journalism graduates, and most are working either as reporters, content marketers or public relations specialists.

Similarly, students choose to work for Cedars, our campus newspaper and website, and Resound, our campus raido station, from outside of the comm department. We are inclusive, not exclusive, in both directions.

I just saw this article about a graduate from a program outside of our department. He got a good job at a web design firm and was once a part of our design team for Cedars. Andrew Spencer did some great work for us and helped us win a design award in the annual Ohio Newspaper Association contest. He looked for ways to grow his skills outside of the classroom.

Students are wise for taking advantage of opportunities outside of their specific discipline. It grows their knowledge and understanding of the world.

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My communication writing students show the skills to lead, and they like to lead

When I am asked what I teach at Cedarville University, my answer is journalism. But I eventually work in to the conversation that I also teach a writing class for our applied communication majors.

I have been blessed to get know theses students outside of my regular circle of students. They are smart, eager to learn, want to make a difference and are loaded with leadership qualities and potential. Group projects get finished on time, and overall they do a great job of keeping up on all of the writing assignments.

Near the end of last semester we got to talking in class about what it means to be a comm major. To them it means God has given them a vast amount of career and ministry opportunities. Many of them started college in other majors. They are happy God had reserved a place for them in communications.

Of the 16 in the class, all but two raised their hands when I asked them if the had been involved in leadership roles while in college. Most of them had been involved in several. And the ones who didn’t raise their hands as leaders said that didn’t mean they weren’t involved in groups and organizations and on committees here and there.

Next we began to list characteristics of communication majors, which you can see below:

Comm majors list

Then we listed characteristics of leaders, which you can see below:

Comm leaders list

They were encouraged to notice that many of the characteristics were on both lists as the same words or as synonyms. I haven’t done this exercise with journalism students or students of other majors in the communications department, but I would expect similar results.