Pathways to Students’ Futures

Professionals share what it’s like to work in the communication field


On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Department of Communication’s Insight Committee hosted the 8th Annual Communication Forum in Dewberry Hall. Kicking off with a power outage, the event brightened minds with its theme “Pathways to Your Future,” lighting the way for students navigating their career paths.

Communication students and Mason’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) played a significant part in building the forum. Through this, students such as Bailey Williams, a junior communication major focused on public relations and social media, are learning how to “[use the skills of] public relations and social media to promote events” such as the 2018 Communication Forum.

Sophomore communication major Leigh Norman and senior communication major John Morris did not attend the full event in years past, but both students were eager to share what they were most excited about this year.

Morris said he was most excited to hear Lindsay Czarniak speak.

Czarniak served as keynote speaker for the forum, delivering words of advice and encouragement from her own experiences as a broadcaster. After graduating from James Madison University in 2000, Czarniak shared her experiences from different media outlets including CNN, NBC Washington and ESPN.

“One of the toughest challenges for me along the way has been patience,” Czarniak said during her talk about the difficulties that she has faced in her career. However, she has stayed grounded and motivated all these years through her passion for digging deep and telling unconventional stories.

Human connection, networking and striving so hard to the point of taking scary risks were the avenues Czarniak used to get where she is today. Many times throughout her keynote, Czarniak emphasized the importance of believing in oneself by telling students to “bet on yourself” and that “your brand matters.”

Aside from Czarniak’s keynote address, Norman was most excited about the industry mentors featured at the event. Leaders within the fields of public relations, journalism, corporate communication, public affairs and more provided their personal insight to students in group-mentoring sessions.

Laura Neal, a featured mentor, shared with Mason students her career path in media production. From working as a makeup artist for horror movies to assisting with production on shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Undercover Boss,” and now managing post-production at the Smithsonian Channel, Neal is a big advocate for being confident, making sacrifices and interacting with other folks in the industry.

Bill Lord, former news director at stations in D.C., Seattle and Los Angeles, took his session a step forward, by providing students a handout titled “How to Get a Job in the Media.” With many years of experience interviewing candidates, Lord gave tips that included “offer multiple skills” and “don’t tell employers what they can do for you. They don’t care.”

With the help of this year’s fall forum, students looking to jump into careers post-graduation are one step closer to leading their own paths.