Friday, October 31, 2014

PRSSA hosts alumni

Graduates return to share experiences in the communication field

“Who you are now is not who you will always be. Where you are now is not where you will always be. Keep moving forward.”

This piece of advice given by Liberty University graduate student and assistant Nate Jurgensen was one of the many encouragements given to Liberty communication students at the 2013 Annual Homecoming PRSSA Alumni Panel.

The panel, which took place Oct. 20, featured five graduates from communication programs who are using the skills they learned at Liberty in the professional world. They offered advice to students with an overriding theme of easing the transition from college life to real world jobs.

Homecoming — Alumni share career advice with students. Photo credit: Melanie Oelrich

Homecoming — Alumni share career advice with students. Photo credit: Melanie Oelrich

Hosting the panel was Liberty’s PRSSA President Kristen Gorsuch. The panelists included Tola Adamson, Justin Rossbacher, Lexie Dache, David Thompson and Nate Jurgensen.

Adamson, who is now a reporter for ABC13 News, encouraged students to be persistent in gaining knowledge and experience while in school.

“My whole major was a learning process for me,” Adamson said. “I wasn’t that good, but I decided that I was going to learn, because that is what college is for.”
Adamson studied broadcast journalism while at Liberty.

After discussing learning while in college, Adamson advised students to be confident in taking what they have learned into the professional world.

“You’re not going to go into a job knowing everything,” Adamson said. “But be confident. Confident that you can do it, and that you have learned the right basic skills here at Liberty.”
This attitude was shared by all the other panelists as one of the most important things to remember when searching for or starting a job.

“You can do it,” Rossbacher said after Gorsuch asked the panel for the single greatest piece of advice that they could each give students.

Rossbacher, who after graduating from Liberty in 2007 became a commercial film director, stressed the importance of networking and thinking outside the box.

Rossbacher said that one of the greatest assets a person can have in film is to be a proactively unsafe thinker. He said people who can find ways to be creative in new and fresh ways are hard to come by and are highly valued.

When asked how important it is to network with classmates and teachers while in school, he simply said, “Yes,” followed by laughter from the crowd for such a concise answer.
“People want to work with people that they know and trust,” Rossbacher said.

He added that when interacting with people, look them in the eye, give a firm handshake and dress for the part.

Dache is now a marketing and project manager at Proverbs 31 Ministries after graduating from Liberty in 2013 with an advertising and public relations major. Dache encouraged students that, even though it can sound cliché, God is in complete control of the future.

“Just trust God,” Dache said. “He will prepare you for every step that you take. You have a door, and even if you knock on 10 that don’t open, God still has that door for you.”
Dache said students should not get stuck in the details of creating a strict life plan.

“I think that God calls us to be faithful in the small things,” Dache said. “I am not looking for a 20-year plan from God.”

Thompson, a journalism major who graduated in 2007 and worked at the Lynchburg News & Advance, reiterated that message by advising students to pray about things, but to not hesitate in taking opportunities that could result in growth.

“I might not be good at the start,” Thompson said. “But (these opportunities) will help me stretch my personality in ways that it hasn’t been stretched.”

Thompson just acquired a job as the director of communications for Liberty’s law school, but during his time at the News & Advance he was a public safety reporter. He got the job at the News & Advance right out of college after completing an internship there.

According to Thompson, compassion is the most important trait in his job.

He said that since he reported on a lot of tragedy, he had to learn to let people talk and reveal things at their own pace.

“I knew if I were them, I would not want to talk to me,” Thompson said.

Thompson also stressed the importance of being adaptable for those you are working for.

The questions asked during the panel by Gorsuch were interspersed with questions from Twitter submitted by students in the audience. The most active Twitter askers got a free T-shirt at the end of the panel.

For more information on PRSSA and their events, visit their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @LibertyPRSSA.

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