Why I brag about our students

I frequently tell students that empirical data points are important on the resume. A professor I had in undergrad taught me that. He’s teaching at a university in Texas now. Nice guy, questionable reviews on ratemyprofessor.com. Here’s one of them now: He marks every tiny mistake and your grade suffers.

The nerve of that guy! And a journalism instructor! Taking off points like that! He was a copy editor in a previous life, so I am sure that’s a big part of it. Also, there’s the issue of getting things right versus getting things wrong.

Anyway, it’s been almost 20 years, but I remember him as a kind man. Always had a big smile. Like a lot of teachers, once you decoded what he was after you could make some nice progress. He was big on feedback since so much of what he taught was grounded in subjectivity. And getting that feedback could often times be the most useful best part of his class. Some of those lessons still ring in my ears. He was also very patient during office hours. I hope some of that part rubbed off on me, by accident.

Back then there weren’t as many administrative support positions as students enjoy today and the few that were around were somewhat overwhelmed. Plus, I reasoned, the people who’d been in my field would be more helpful in drafting the right kind of resume for my field. So I went to the faculty and this one man was generous with his time, working through several drafts of the brutal document with me, marking every tiny mistake, like the copy editor he was. And he liked empirical data points.

So I’ve always had them in my resume. There’s not a job description that doesn’t include a mention of ratings boosts, enrollment increase or social media gains and some data points or percentages.

Which is a long way to say — because I’m vamping, clearly — that another kind of data is peer acceptance. The media industry, you might have heard, is big on awards and honors. It’s a marker of professional peerage. A plaque! Maybe a trophy, or even a certificate! Ultimately they mean you get to mention them from time to time, say you are award-winning and so on. Plus, and perhaps most critically, some of these things give you additional feedback and you get to see where you are next to others plying the same trade. They don’t wow many people at parties, but they do look nice on a resume. For all of these reasons I encourage students to take the necessary steps to get over the requisite hurdles that allow them to jump through the hoops of getting their media efforts nominated.

If nothing else, I get to brag about them:

This is where I trot out my old saw about how student media members do this stuff in addition to their class work, their real jobs and in dealing with whatever is going on with their lives. These particular sports guys in particular always seem to be working when there is a significant game that they, as fans, would enjoy watching. But they’re working. They do it late at night and late in the week, even on those weeks when the campus is a ghost town because everyone else has left for a long holiday. It takes dedication to be a high functioning college student anyway, but it takes another round of that same spirit to do something as demanding as media work. And then, of course, they have to deal with me. All of this is a kind of first step into the media’s dues-paying process. It can be a thankless task, sometimes, which is why I try to thank them and show them off as much as possible. Oh, look, here’s another group to brag on:

One really nice thing that the ACM contests do is they share the submissions of each category’s finalists, so you can see the work of some of the best people in the country. I can say the students I work with are doing work that gets nominated for big national awards, sure. I can also say they are being mentioned with students in other great programs like Syracuse, Kent State, Quinnipiac and more. And we can see the great work the people in those programs are doing, too.

But mostly, being a finalist for a Pinnacle Award, that’s not a bad bullet point on a sophomore or junior’s resume.

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