Employment Practicum Course for Communication Majors

Communication Students Learn Key Skills to Succeed in the Job Market

Before sending Marist students out to interviews and internships, the department of communication helps to prepare them through the Employment Practicum course. This one class teaches everything students will need to know about entering the job market. It meets only once a week, but in that short time span, helps participants to transition from college students to young professionals.

This class is part of a set of career classes offered by the department. The first is called Career Planning, which takes more of an exploratory approach at examining different career paths.

Employment Practicum is designed for Sophomores, but is open to anyone, and is application oriented. “It focuses on the concrete step of applying for positions and targeting specific career paths,” explains Professor Gerry McNulty, Marist’s communication internship director.

The curriculum follows the essential aspects of landing a professional job. Students learn to make resumes and cover letters, prepare for interviews, and network.

This may seem simple, but many students do not know where to begin when it comes to taking these steps towards employment. “Generally, if they don’t take the class, students will have more difficulty,” admits McNulty.

The class takes its lessons a step further than one would find in a Google search or “how to” book. “It’s a process with multiple steps,” says McNulty, “it is not a light switch that goes on and off.”

Students learn to make exceptional resumes that would be considered professional; “not just a resume,” explains McNulty, “but one that is customized and targeted to a particular career path.”

When learning how to prepare for an interview, the students are required to actually prepare. They then put their skills to the test, as they engage in multiple mock interviews throughout the semester. Additionally, students learn to present themselves and network with Marist alumni.

Depending on the professor teaching the practicum, different sections will delve into other aspects of life after graduation. As an example, some classes have an assignment on graduate schools, where students choose a few schools and learn about their benefits. Other classes will have a research project based on financial literacy. For this assignment, students create a sample household and budget based off of a location and career goal.

In any of the sections, professors use the additional lessons “as a way to prepare students to go into the working world,” assures McNulty.

Employment Practicum even helps communication students overcome their greatest obstacle: the competition. Just within Marist, there are a little over 800 students who identify themselves as communication majors, and when it comes time to interview for internships and employment, the process can be very competitive.

“It is a popular career choice,” explains professor McNulty, “many more people want to work in there then are jobs available.” Competition to secure a position in a media company in the professional world is high and intense, but luckily, Employment Practicum prepares Marist students for the challenges and expectations through the skills and experiences acquired from the class.

Approximately 60 percent of Marist’s communications and media students take part in credit-bearing internships. Additionally, students also secure paid internships without registering for credit through the college. These internships often come about by utilizing the lessons learned from Employment Practicum.

“The class is meant to introduce them to this whole sort of philosophy, that the way you do this is to be a proactive learner,” McNulty explains, “to show people that seeking a job is as much an approach and an attitude as a thing you do.”

In addition to the development of resumes, cover letters and interview skills, students come out of the class with a whole new mindset. This mindset is a determination to be a very active internship and job seeker and is equally essential to their blossoming careers.

Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18

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