…When Will I Use This? How my Comm classes prepared me for my internship

Hello! I’m David Donohue, a current fourth-year student in the communication department here at Shepherd University with a concentration in Digital Filmmaking. Currently, I’m also an intern at Shepherdstown’s own Freshwater Institute, a research facility that is part of the environmental conservation group The Conservation Fund. I have been employed there since June of last year.

Unlike most of The Conservation Fund, the Freshwater Institute does not specialize specifically in land conservation efforts. Rather, it specializes in scientific research aspect of the fund, with a focus on sustainable aquaculture, or the raising of fish in land-based aquaculture systems. The Institute is also involved in water-quality experiments and Conservation GIS (evaluating areas with geographic information systems). This is my second internship as a college student, the first being at another Shepherdstown-based environmental group called Skytruth. Both of these opportunities have afforded me some amazing experiences, but my employment with the Freshwater Institute has been especially unique in that I’ve applied virtually everything I’ve ever learned in college. So while it might be tough to stay on top of Dr. Kushin’s workload, or keep track of Dr. William’s schedule, trust me: it does pay off. How? Let me give you some examples.

COMM 352 Computer-Mediated Communication
One of the coolest but toughest classes we deal with as Comm majors is without a doubt COMM 352 Computer-Mediated Communication class; you probably remember it as the class where you somehow pulled together a website in the middle of finals week against the challenge of a missing dash in the html code. Well, believe it or not, html is king in the design world. Since I started at my internship, I’ve designed around 40 different web pages for our company website using an application called WordPress. Here’s a screenshot of what these pages look like before publication:


Once I’ve typed in the coding and pasted in any writing I’ve done outside of WordPress, I send a copy of the draft to my boss for review. Once approved, we hit the publish button, and boom. We have a brand-new webpage:

page finished

COMM 360 Studio Production and COMM 406 Advertising & Imagery
Both Dr. Williams and Professor Larson are synonymous with some of the toughest courses offered within our major. Dr. Williams tends to try to foster a dive-in and sink or swim approach, while Professor Larson emphasizes looking at the problems discussed in class from different angles. What two of the classes I’ve taken with them share in common is the inclusion of video editing. While there are many different types of video editing software, the trick is in knowing what each has in common; this allows for easy transition between platforms. Though my main work in these classes was in Final Cut Pro and iMovie respectively, it allowed me to transition to what I use at my job; Adobe Premier:

videomaker clip

The editing process for a video can be really tedious; on the particular video in this shot, I spent almost a month straight of editing and priming the footage. The result, however, was well worth it. Take a look at the completed video below.

COMM 355 Writing Across Platforms
As you know, we’re required to take a writing credit specific to our major; this is either Narrative Screenwriting or Writing Across Platforms. Due to my personal interests, I took the later class. All I can say is, Dr. Kushin knows his stuff, and this class was one of my personal favorites. At my job, I’m required to maintain a constant presence on a variety of media outlets. Chief among these is Internet media, as I’m the social media custodian and develop a majority of the Institute’s webpage, but I’m also involved in other aspects, such as press releases. For example, I developed the following press release for a conference we had last August:

Microsoft word press release

Using the tools I’d learned in the class, I wrote up the release with all the necessary ingredients and got it out to our usual reporters. Due to schedule conflicts, I couldn’t do much more than this, but when I came back to the office the following week, we had a news article live:

Press Release finished

Overall, the department prepared me well for what has been one of the most exciting opportunities in my career so far. The family we have in this department, along with the immersive aspects of our classes, has helped me make the transition into a real-world job with real career aspects. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the classes I took as a communications major, I would not be even close to where I am now. Editor’s Note: The Department has switched from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere.


True Life: How I Got Promoted Within a Year on the Job

Hello again! Here’s the second installment in my 3-part series on my transitioning from a #ShepComm student to career person. Here’s part 1 on the job hunt if you missed it. Okay, on to part 2:

Once I landed my first “real” job out of college, I was excited to begin my career. While I was by no means starting at the bottom, one of the most intriguing aspects of my job was the ability to move up within my team and the company.

I asked about promotions and advancements in my original interview, and I was informed that many opportunities were available and even more were being developed. So, as I began my new position, I worked hard. And, I worked hard to gain the respect of my co-workers and management. While I truly believe this paid off, I also tried to show initiate by volunteering to help with special projects and develop better ideas to help our processes.

Before I knew it, a senior position opened up on my team. Although I had not even been working for the company an entire year, I decided that I needed to interview.

I was confident in the work I produced and confident in my ability to be promoted and succeed. I also realized, though, that even if I was not offered the promotion, this round of interviews would better prepare me for the next time, and it would show my management that I was interested and serious about moving up. In the end, I was not selected for that opportunity. But, I stayed positive and knew I was even more prepared for the next opportunity.

A few months later, another senior position opened on my team. At this point, I was at the company for about a year and truly felt this was my opportunity. Before I interviewed, though, I took time to think about my current position and develop ideas for team improvements and personal improvements and goals. I wanted to let my management know that I sincerely cared about our team and would be the best choice for the position. I left my interview feeling like I accomplished many things! Ultimately, I knew the decision may come down to more than just a single interview; however, I felt I represented myself the best way I could and gave the management some insightful ideas to consider.

After what seemed like a decade (although it was really just a little over a week), the management finally made a decision. It was me!

I was thrilled. But I knew my work was just beginning. I accepted the position and have been a senior on my team for about 6 months now!

This experience has been very rewarding for me, and I hope to be able to advance further in the future. For now, I am focusing on continuing my hard work and dedication to my job. Overall, I attribute many of these critical skills that have helped me to succeed to my college experience. College taught me many things. I learned how to work hard, take initiative, and dedicate myself to something worthwhile. I cannot predict what the future will hold, but I will be obtaining an MBA form Shepherd University this May, which will be more discussed in my next blog post!