Leadership opportunities on the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus come in all forms. The Office of Student Media within the Division of Student Life has experienced a consistent and successful rate of conversion between student involvement in student media and the attainment of full-time employment after graduation. Jerry Bush, director of Student Media at UT, says many students are courted by media outlets and a lot of students have jobs before they leave campus.
Justin Crawford is one student who had a broad experience in student media before graduating in May 2018. Crawford majored in journalism and electronic media and was a recipient of the Torchbearer Award. While at UT, Crawford worked at The Daily Beacon, first pitching internships to first-year students and then hosting video segments as a sophomore. This opportunity led him to work with the Office of Communications and Marketing, Center for Career Development, and Haslam College of Business, producing social media and promotional videos. In addition, Crawford completed numerous internships with local and Los Angeles media outlets. He is currently the entertainment and lifestyle group assistant with NBC Universal in New York.
“From the time I was a first-year student at the University of Tennessee to where I am right now at NBCUniversal in New York City, I promise you that I reminisce on everything I learned while working with student media,” said Crawford. “Whether it was my time producing and hosting with The Volunteer Channel, reporting with The Daily Beacon, or hosting Snapchat/Instagram stories on Tennessee Football Saturdays, I trust that I gained more than enough experience with our student media to prepare me for the entertainment and television business I am currently working in.”
Each semester between 75 and 100 students from all types of majors join the student media team. There is tremendous growth in the department, and students can gain experience at the Daily Beacon and Phoenix Literary Magazine. With this growth and hopefully new expansion in the future, the department will continue to feel the impact it is having on student’s personal and professional development.
Leadership is important among the values within student media, and the leadership committee is central to that value. The committee meets once a month to make decisions, some of which can be controversial concerning advertising and what stories should be produced. Bush said his office is one of the few places on campus that students can receive sales training to supplement their classroom training.
“(Student media) provides a real-life opportunity, I think, and gives you a chance to apply all the things you learn in the classroom and more,” said Bush. Students have the opportunity to build, develop, and analyze an audience with a medium, all while having the chance to fail and learn from it with the guidance of staff in student media.
These experiences are rich and contribute to the success that students have in obtaining post-graduation employment. Many student media students go on to work as editors-in-chief at other newspapers throughout the area, produce video, work in films in Los Angeles, and work at advertising agencies, including in New York. It is a full circle experience with many alumni returning to UT to help with workshops and contribute back to student media.