MACS Internship Panel – Dayle Maas

internship panelA Communication Studies major can lead to a wide variety of career opportunities stemming from advertising and marketing to public relations to broadcasting and journalism. On Monday, February 15, MACS hosted an Internship Panel Event consisting of six Executive Board Members who presented on their past summer internships related to industries within the Communications field. The panel provided advice on the application and interview processes, explained day-to-day internship tasks, and shared helpful tools on landing the perfect internship.

Mallory Bodker: Jackson Spalding
Mallory, a sophomore, interned at Jackson Spalding, a marketing communications firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Her focus was on event planning for Toyota, but she also worked with Delta, Chick-fil-a, and Coca-Cola. As an event planner intern, Mallory coordinated with restaurant caterers, decor experts, audio/visual experts, and many other professionals to piece together the details of a couple events. Mallory also was able to explore other areas within Jackson Spalding such as writing press releases, gaining experience with Microsoft Excel, learning about the brainstorming process, and sitting in on a client photoshoot. Mallory’s biggest piece of advice is to use your connections. She says not to be ashamed to reach out to friends or family about internship inquiries or advice; more times than not they want to help and will have suggestions!

Andrew Fridenberg: Faith Maxwell
Andrew, a sophomore, interned at Faith Maxwell, a graphic design studio with a focus on website design and brand marketing. Andrew focused on the marketing of business and researching potential clients for Faith Maxwell. As a freshman applying for summer internships, Andrew was determined to apply to as many as possible even if companies were looking for juniors or seniors. He found his place for the summer at the small graphic design studio and now suggests to others to not dismiss companies just because they are smaller. He sees many pros to small companies, such as hands on experience, being able to see the real effects of your work, and ultimately feeling a sense of value in the company because of your efforts. Andrew also highlights the importance of a cover letter during the application process as it gives a quick insight into your enthusiasm, writing skills, and personality.

Hannah Schiff: NBCUniversal
Hannah, a senior and the president of MACS, interned at NBCUniversal the summer between her sophomore and junior years. Hannah’s application and interview process was lengthy, but she was determined to continuously follow-up and stay in contact with NBCUniversal throughout the process. Eventually, it was because of a follow-up email that led recruiters to see her determination and offer her the internship. Hannah’s daily responsibilities included attending meetings, writing recaps, doing research, and creating content for galleries. Some highlights of her summer included The Biggest Loser Press Day and pitching ideas for a show called A to Z. Through the NBCUniversal Internship Program, Hannah was exposed to informational interviews, career development workshops, and intern bonding events. She says her experience at NBCUniversal helped her learn what to do when she makes a mistake and how to ask for help; two important lessons for any internship.

Sarah Schuman: Starcom Mediavest Group
Sarah, a senior, interned at Starcom MediaVest Group, a full-service media planning and buying agency with clients such as Kraft, Kellogg, and Wrigley. Sarah first had an informational interview with a recent U-M graduate who was on the Starcom search team. From there, she utilized the U-M Career Center for cover letter and resume help. She recommends taking the time to answer application questions and writing your cover letter as it helps the company get the best sense of who you are and what team to place you on. Sarah also recommends preparing for interviews by researching the company, the different areas of the company, recent case studies, and what differentiates the company from others. Throughout Starcom’s internship program, Sarah met with supervisors to establish goals and met weekly to discuss the progress of those goals. From these evaluations, Sarah learned the importance of problem solving and asking questions.

Sarah Scott: Merit
Sarah, a senior, was an Events and Promotions Intern and Social Media Intern at Merit, a fashion brand founded by U-M alumnus David Meritt. Merit donates 20% of purchases to fund college scholarships. Through Sarah’s internship, she researched marketing techniques for events, developed ideas for events, and then presented those events at the end of her internship. She also ran Merit’s Twitter account and ran analytics to measure engagement. From her internship at Merit, Sarah learned about the value of taking initiative and the value of open communication. Like Andrew, Sarah also loved her experience at a small company, as well as being able to contribute to such a worthy cause.

Leah Shepherd: Your:People LLC
Leah, a senior, interned at the public relations firm Your:People LLC in Southfield, Michigan. Your:People focuses on public relations, business development, and speaking engagements. Through Leah’s application and interview process, she learned the importance of knowing the difference between public relations, marketing, and advertising, and she also recommends doing research prior to your interview. After the interview, she suggests following up with an email, hand written thank you note, or both! Leah’s daily tasks varied, but included creating media lists, contacting press, creating social media plans, and preparing for client interviews on radio and television; she loved that each day was different. At Your:People, Leah learned interns aren’t expected to know it all from day one and learning is a part of the process, which means asking questions is important to the process!

Panelists at the event.

Panelists at the event.

MACS’ Internship Panel was filled with great advice for all stages of the internship process. From graphic design and marketing to the entertainment industry to public relations, the variety of internships shows the vast possibilities a Communication Studies major can pursue.

Bad News Good Democracy: Stuart Soroka

sorokaStuart Soroka is Michael W. Traugott Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies and Political Science. He is also a Faculty Associate in the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on political communication, the sources and/or structure of public preferences for policy, and the relationships between public policy, public opinion, and mass media.

Communication Studies: Tell us about your research. Can you also give us an overview of your February 10th lecture – “Bad News Good Democracy”?

Stuart Soroka: I’ve just been in Chile running an experiment in which we monitor heart rate and skin conductance while participants watch television news. This is the seventh country in which we’ve run these experiments, and our aim is eighteen countries in total, over the next three years. The end goal is a cross-national study of the human tendency to react more strongly to negative news than to positive news. There already is evidence of ‘negativity biases’ in economics and psychology, but not very much work in communications and political science. And there is very little work outside the US. So we currently understand relatively little about where negativity biases in political communication come from, how they vary across individuals, or whether they vary in interesting ways across cultures.

CS: Can you tell us what you were doing prior to joining the faculty at U of M?

SS: I was awarded my PhD in political science at the University of British Columbia, spent a few years as a postdoc at Nuffield College, Oxford, and then was a professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, for twelve years before joining the U of M faculty.

CS: What motivated you to pursue research in Communication Studies?

SS: I am interested in how people learn about politics and policy – how they develop, or change, their ideas about the political world around them. This necessarily involves a good deal of information from newspapers, from television, and increasingly from social media as well. So I started with an interest in politics, and that led me to an interest in mass media.

CS: Was there something in particular that was attractive to you about coming to the University of Michigan?

SS: The University of Michigan has been, for many years, a leading center for the study of public opinion, political behavior and political communication. The Communication Studies Department includes a number of scholars working in areas similar to mine. The same is true for the Political Science Department, and the Center for Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research. So for me, the research community at the University of Michigan is really very extensive. The opportunity to be a part of that played a large role in my decision to join U of M.

CS: How is your research relevant today? What are the implications for today’s society?

SS: There are increasing concerns about negativity in the news, and negativity in politics in particular. The common complaint is that too much negativity turns people off politics – it leads to declining political participation and engagement. I am not sure that this is the case, however. I have an interest, first, in understanding the relative impact of negative versus positive information on our attitudes about politicians, parties, and policies. But I am very interested in the possibility that a focus on negative information in news content reflects the human tendency to be more interested in that kind of information. A steady flow of negative information may be central to political accountability. It might also increase rather decrease attention to politics. Understanding whether this is the case matters for our expectations of news coverage in mass media; it also matters for our objectives in media policy, in political campaigns, and in political journalism. Should we be trying to change the balance of positive versus negative information in news content? Are we well-served by journalism that focuses so strongly on politicians’ errors rather than successes? What is the impact of negative political campaigns on participation? These are all current questions not just in academic work in political communication, but in the public sphere as well. And these are the questions on which my ongoing work is focused.

Prof. Stuart Soroka delivered the Inaugural Lecture for the Michael W. Traugott Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies and Political Science February 10th in the Rackham Amphitheater. stuart

Alumni Spotlight – Stephanie Steinberg, U.S. News & World Report Assistant Editor

Stephanie0054Stephanie Steinberg is a 2012 alumna in Communication Studies. Currently, she is an assistant editor at U.S. News & World Report who covers health and money. Stephanie edits and writes content that helps her readers make informed decisions about their health and finances.

Communication Studies: Tell us a bit about the path you took to get where you are.

Stephanie Steinberg: Despite all news about struggling publications and declining readerships, I truly believe that if you want to be a journalist today, you will find a job. You just have to be willing to put in the time and energy and work for it. In addition to working at the Michigan Daily during the school year, I spent every summer during college interning for a media organization. My first internship after freshman year was at The Oakland Press, which helped me build up clips and learn the basics of daily reporting. The following summers I interned at USA Today, CNN and The Boston Globe. The key is to not be intimidated by top publications and to aim high, even if you don’t think you’re qualified.
The Globe internship was the summer after I graduated. (Another tip: Don’t be afraid to do an internship after college. It gives you the flexibility to just enjoy your last semester on campus and not worry about job hunting.) I then found a job at WTOP Radio, which is the main news, traffic and weather station in Washington D.C., and worked as an online editor for a few months. A job then opened at U.S. News & World Report to edit the health and money sections. I enjoyed learning about the radio industry, but my heart is in print and longform reporting, so I applied for the U.S. News job and am very grateful to the editors who hired me. Here I am three years later!

CS: You recently published your first book, “In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at the Michigan Daily.” Can you tell us about what inspired you to write it and elaborate on the process?

SS: The book is a collection of essays by 40 journalists who all started their careers at The Michigan Daily. I edited their stories and wrote the introduction, but the credit really goes to them for writing the book!

In 2011, I was the Daily’s editor-in-chief, which meant I was in the newsroom over 80 hours a week. Over all four years the Daily became a very important piece of my life, and I felt indebted to it for kick-starting my career. I came up with the idea for the book about two years after graduation. I knew the 125th anniversary of the Daily was coming up in 2015, and I thought something should be done to commemorate the paper and 6,000 alumni. I then thought a great way to do that would be to tell the stories behind the stories printed in the Daily, and let the reporters and photographers share what really happened before their story or photo landed on campus newsstands.

So I contacted alumni now working at top publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, you name it, and I asked them to write a first person story. The book starts with the March on Selma in 1965 and goes through Vietnam War protests, presidential elections, Sept. 11 and the present day. The sports journalists also talk about covering Rose Bowls and what it was like to interview Bo one-on-one, and there’s a good Daily love story by the deputy Wall Street Journal editor Rebecca Blumenstein and author Alan Paul, who ran against each other to be summer Daily editor-in-chief. (That turned out OK because they’re now happily married with three kids.)

I have to thank the University of Michigan Press, which made this book possible. They were the first (and only) publisher I pitched the book to, and they were immediately interested. Being connected with the University, I knew they would understand the purpose and message of the book, so I didn’t want to work with any other publisher.

You can read more about the book on the University of Michigan Press website here.

CS: What UM classes or extracurricular activities did you find particularly helpful in your job field?

SS: For four years I worked, ate and even slept sometimes at The Michigan Daily. My roommates must have thought I was a ghost because I’d come home to our house on State and Catherine after sending the paper to print at 3 a.m., and then wake up when they all were at class.

While I took some stellar communications classes related to journalism – specifically Professor Anthony Colling’s ethics in journalism, supreme court news and foreign news coverage courses – I really learned everything I needed to know about how to be a journalist at the Daily. Margaret Myers, who’s now an editor at PBS NewsHour, wrote in her story for the book, “I got my diploma from the College of the Michigan Daily.” And I feel the same way. You learn how to be a journalist by being out in the field and making mistakes – and there’s no better place to make journalism mistakes than at a student newspaper with which readers and sources tend to be a little more forgiving.

CS: When did you know what field you wanted to go into? What experiences led you there?

SS: I consider myself lucky that I knew “what I wanted to be when I grew up” since third grade. In elementary school, my dad signed me up for a local TV show called “Kid Stuff.” Essentially, kids acted as cub reporters to tell local stories. Through that experience, I interviewed zookeepers at the Detroit Zoo, reported on the streets of city holiday parades and gave book reviews at Borders. One of my favorite segments was a feature package on the Franklin Cider Mill. The journalism bug bit me, and from that point on, I knew I wanted to tell stories for the rest of my life.

Fast-forward a few years: I became an editor for North Farmington High School’s newspaper The Northern Star and learned the power of the pen from my journalism advisor Nikki Schueller. When I was accepted to Michigan, I immediately emailed the Daily editor-in-chief at the time to find out how I could join the staff. I walked into the Daily during Welcome Week and never stopped walking through that door.

CS: What motivated you to pursue a Communication Studies degree?

SS: Like I mentioned, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. So I was a little disappointed when I found out the University didn’t have a journalism major. I decided Communication Studies would be the next closest major. It was a great decision, as I became friends with dozens of students with similar interests and my professors understood when I needed to leave class early to cover an event or interview University President Mary Sue Coleman.

CS: Describe a day-in-the-life at work.

BestCollegesDaySS: U.S. News & World Report is all digital now, so the majority of my day is spent editing stories on my computer. Stories go through two edits, and I’m usually the first editor, which means I fact check everything (references to studies, sources’ names, etc.) I also edit for grammar and style, so the AP Stylebook is my best friend. If something doesn’t make sense in a story, I’ll leave questions for the reporter to answer. The reporter then addresses all my edits, and we’ll go back and forth until the story is ready for the second editor, who looks for any glaring errors or holes before sending it to production.

I actually edit two U of M graduates – health & wellness reporter Anna Miller and real estate reporter Devon Thorsby – and we usually leave comments to each other like “Go Blue” whenever a story happens to quote a U of M professor.

I will say, I don’t have any role in producing the college rankings (that’s the education team). But I do go all out on Best Colleges day when the rankings are released, and I deck out my desk (and myself) in Michigan gear. I’m proud to say the Michigan grads won the Most School Spirit contest this year!

CS: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned from your job?

SS: I’m going to cheat a little in this question and steal a passage from Michael Rosenberg, the 1996 Daily editor-in-chief who now writes for Sports Illustrated. In the book, he wrote:
“I did not have to spend as much time at the Daily as I did, but I learned one of the most valuable lessons in life, and it’s not a journalism lesson: If you love what you do, it won’t feel like work, and you will never feel overworked. It helps if you love the people who do it alongside you.”
I also learned that lesson at the Daily, and it applies to any job I have or ever will have. At the end of the day, it’s the people you work with who matter. You could have a stressful, draining job, but if you work with people who care about you and want you to succeed, that stress, and the work you produce, will be well worth it.

CS: What is your favorite UM memory?

SS: That is such a hard question! I have so many. If I have to narrow it down to one, it would be the night President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Minutes after he won, thousands of students spilled into the Diag chanting “Obama” and “It’s Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine!” and “The Victors.” Students waved American flags, rung cowbells and someone even started playing a set of bongos. The crowd then moved down State Street and paraded to the President’s house and down South U. before heading back to the Diag. I was a freshmen at the time and had never seen such pure joy and optimism expressed by so many people my age. Students were crying tears of joy as we walked down the streets. It was a historical moment, and I felt like I was part of a new era.
Four years later, I witnessed a similar spectacle outside the White House when Obama was re-elected, and I went to the scene to take pictures for WTOP Radio. Again, mostly a younger crowed gathered outside the gate. But it wasn’t the same: They weren’t wearing maize and blue and chanting “The Victors.”

CS: Since you are in the Communication Studies industry, are you able to disengage from thinking critically about the media-saturated world and if so, how?

SS: It’s impossible not to think about the media when you’re a part of it, producing stories, tweeting and trying to keep up with the 24-second Twitter news cycle each day. I try to remind myself to step back and take a look at the bigger picture though and remember that one story can have a profound impact on one person. For example, the health and money stories I work on provide advice for readers to improve their health and financial well-being. Readers often write to us, saying our reporting helped them make a decision about a certain medical treatment or figure out how to invest their money for retirement. So on the bad news days when it seems like the world is imploding with shootings, terrorism and crime, I try to think about the readers and remind myself that the kind of journalism I produce is meant to help people – and tomorrow will hopefully be a better news day.

CS: Provide some advice for students working towards internships and full-time opportunities in the communications field.

SS: Do everything you can to secure an internship each summer and build up your work experience – internships do count as work experience! Also go above and beyond what’s expected of you as an intern. If you’re asked to write two articles a week at a publication, write four. If you’re asked to submit five story ideas, submit 10. Constantly ask what more you can do to help your boss – and be genuine about it. Your eagerness and enthusiasm to perform well and learn will make you stand out from the other interns.

Also ask others in the company who you admire, or have a position you would like one day, to grab coffee or lunch. Find out how they got to where they are today, and pick their brains for job advice. Then stay in touch with occasional emails after you leave the internship. In the communications field especially – where job competition can be fierce – it helps to network. A job sometimes comes down to who you know who’s willing to pass along a positive recommendation.

Most importantly, be nice to everyone. You never know. The intern working for you today could become your colleague or even boss one day.

MACS: It’s A Wrap! – Diana Chen

macs 2

It’s a wrap! Although finals week has quickly approached and students are in full throttle survival-mode, we would like to take the time to reflect on some of the incredible events put on by the Michigan Association of Communication Studies (MACS). This semester, MACS has focused on providing students with a concrete understanding of what a degree in Communications can offer. Doing so, the student-run organization emphasized three main components: Education, Recruiting, and Industry.

Education:

One important component of MACS is working to provide students with educational support and assistance throughout their professional development. This semester we kicked off our first resume-building workshop: Resume 101. This event targeted underclassmen in need of basic resume help as well as upperclassmen seeking to improve and rework their existing resumes. Students from all years and educational concentrations attended as MACS’ Education Committee delivered a detailed presentation on formatting, word choice, and other helpful tips. At the end of the workshop, students stayed behind as MACS officers sat down and helped review their resumes. Next semester MACS plans on conducting more education-centered events such as cover letter writing and LinkedIn workshops.

Recruiting:

This past semester MACS has offered various recruiting events, including one of the top public relations firms in the world, Weber Shandwick, as well as Target, one of the nation’s top retailers. Representatives from Weber Shandwick’s Detroit office presented to students about the company, their work, the company’s senior internship position, and provided networking opportunities for students. Target also paid MACS a special visit prior to the Fall Career Fair and delivered a detailed presentation specifically for communication students about internship opportunities at Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis. Both of these events were great opportunities for students to learn more about both companies in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where they could ask personalized questions and speak directly with recruiters. MACS is dedicated to providing additional recruitment opportunities throughout the upcoming semester!

Industry:

Finally, one of the aspects MACS prides itself on is providing students with an array of industry-relevant events that can inspire students to explore the variety of possibilities communication studies can provide. This semester we invited guest-speaker Marcus Collins, the Senior Vice President of Doner, a full-service performance-driven advertising agency that has built on its strong creative legacy to create a truly modern, integrated creative network with offices in Detroit, Cleveland, London and Los Angeles to present on creative marketing. Marcus has worked with clients such as JC Penney, FIAT Chrysler, Coca-cola, and the UPS Store. He also worked on digital marketing strategy with Beyonce. Collins is an alumnus from the University of Michigan with a background in engineering and business. Collins delivered a keynote presentation on his knowledge and expertise towards strategic branding in the digital advertising industry.

These highlighted events are just several of the engaging events MACS has put on, and offers a glimpse at the exciting opportunities put on through the Communication Studies Department. Next semester we have an exciting schedule of events for students to attend so stay tuned!

Don’t forget to follow MACS and the Comm Department’s social media handles to stay up to date with MACS events and opportunities!

MACS
• Instagram and Twitter: @MACS_umich
• Facebook & LinkedIn:”MACS: Michigan Association of Communication Studies”

Comm Department
• Twitter: @UM_CommStudies
• Facebook: “University of Michigan Department of Communication Studies”
• LinkedIn: University of Michigan Communication Studies

Weber Shandwick event

Weber Shandwick event

Marcus Collins event

Marcus Collins event

Alumni Spotlight – Peter Jaysen, Veritas Entertainment: Film & TV Producer

peter jaysenPeter Jaysen is a 1989 alumnus in Communication Studies and English. Currently, he is a Film and Television Producer at Veritas Entertainment in Los Angeles. Peter has twenty-five years of experience creating and monetizing content for film, television, digital, and branded entertainment. As an Emmy nominated producer, director, and media executive, Peter has supervised projects from concept through distribution including financing, budgeting, staffing, writing, casting, production, marketing, brand integration, public relations, and sales.

In addition to developing and producing programming for traditional distribution channels, Peter also created and executed multi-platform content strategies for brands like Pepsi, Mt. Dew, and Playboy in partnership with FBC, A&E Networks, Warner Brothers, ITV Studios, 51 Minds, Amazon Studios, Legendary TV, Green Hat Productions, and Machine Zone (Game of War).

Communication Studies:Tell us a bit about the path you took to get where you are.

Peter Jaysen: I wish I could say it was clear and concise path to becoming a film and television producer…but it wasn’t. The path I took was to continually work on projects that allowed me to grow as a storyteller in a variety of genres (Live Sports, news magazines, documentary, talk, half-hour comedy, science fiction, done hour drama etc..) and media (film and television).

CS: When did you know what field you wanted to go into? What experiences led you there?

PJ: My father began taking me to see classic movies like CASABLANCA, THE QUIET MAN, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, WEST SIDE STORY etc. when I was very young. I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry…it just took me a while to figure out the best role for me to excel in a very competitive industry.

CS: What UM classes or extracurricular activities did you find particularly helpful in your job field?

PJ: Public Speaking and English classes; I would read and read and read all of the classics that Hollywood continues to try to adapt/rip off for film and television.

CS: Describe a day-in-the-life at work.

PJ: The theme of each day is always about pitching, pitching and more pitching…Keeping the trains moving on the projects we have set up, in production, and/or post-production….and finishing the day by reading as much new material as possible.

CS: What is one of the most valuable lessons you have learned from your job?

PJ: I think the most valuable lesson I learned is to make sure you are passionate about whatever you pursue in your career. If you like what you are doing day to day, it will help you be more successful with everything! Also, pursuing a career in film and/or television is like running a marathon race…it takes persistence, endurance, and patience.

CS: What is your favorite UM memory?

PJ: My favorite UM memory is really all four years in Ann Arbor…I loved every moment…but if I had to pick one memory it would be standing the 50 yard line in the Big House after the entire stadium rushed the field after John Kolesar caught the game winning touchdown to beat Ohio State!

CS: Provide some advice for students working towards internships and full-time opportunities in the communications field.

PJ: My advice for any internship and job is to LISTEN AND LEARN…and only offer your opinion when asked for it! Go Blue!

Peter will be speaking at the Entertainment Media Career Forum Friday 11/13 10am-3pm.

Application Tips for Prospective Graduate Students – Amy Eaton

Admission season for our doctoral program in Communication Studies is currently in full swing and the department is gearing up to review applications from all of our exceptional prospective students around the globe! Our graduate program coordinator, Amy Eaton, has drawn upon her five years of admissions experience in the department to address a number frequently asked questions so that this year’s applicants will have a better understanding of the seemingly complicated process. Here we’ve listed some of the most commonly asked questions from our applicant pool, along with Amy’s responses:

Do I need a master’s degree in order to be eligible to apply to the program?

The review committee does not require that applicants hold master’s degrees as a condition of acceptance into the program. As long as you have earned a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association, or the equivalent from an international institution, you are eligible to apply! The Rackham Graduate School determines the required academic credentials from non-U.S. institutions. More info for students with an international background can be found here.

How do I apply for student funding during the admissions process?

Five years of full funding is provided to ALL admitted students (domestic and international) making satisfactory progress to the degree; a separate/additional application regarding funding is not needed. “Full funding” encompasses tuition and a stipend for the academic year, and year-round health and dental insurance. Funding is also guaranteed for four summer terms, when students are not enrolled in courses.

If you are recommended for admission to our program, your offer letter will outline your funding package and we will discuss it at our Welcome Weekend event in March.

What are the minimum GPA and GRE requirements for admission to the program?

We do not have a minimum GPA or GRE requirement. The review committee takes all parts of an application into consideration and there is no score which will exclude you from being reviewed and assessed. However, applicants should know that the selection process is very competitive. You are expected to be well-prepared for study at the doctoral-level.

Do all international students need to submit TOEFL scores?

If you are a non-native English speaker, you must demonstrate English proficiency and are required to provide one of following official score reports: IBT TOEFL, Paper/Pencil TOEFL and TWE, or IELTS. Non-native English speakers, regardless of undergraduate or master’s education, must submit English proficiency scores in order to be considered by the admissions review committee.

The department’s policy on submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores differs from that of the Rackham Graduate School, so applicants are often confused about this component of the application package.

How many international students do you plan to admit this year?

We do not have a ‘set’ number of spaces for international or domestic admits. We will review all applicants and admit the best qualified cohort possible.

In recent memory we had a cohort consisting entirely of international students; we’ve also recently had a cohort consisting entirely of domestic students. Most commonly, our cohorts are a mixture of international and domestic students.

I sent in my transcript to the Rackham Graduate School and was sent a confirmation of receipt from the shipping company. Why hasn’t my transcript been marked as “received” on my online applicant profile?

Once you submit your online application, your transcripts will need to be 1) paired with your application package, 2) authenticated, 3) evaluated, and 4) entered into your applicant profile. This process does take some time, especially during November and December when most programs approach their application deadline and Rackham is at its busiest. You can help the Rackham staff by including your UMID whenever possible with any of the materials you submit and by submitting your online application and paying your applicant fee as soon as you are able!

Why should I submit my online application asap?

When you submit your online application and pay your applicant fee, you complete the first step to initiate your applicant profile. One you have an applicant profile on record, we can match any materials you had previously sent (transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL report, etc.) to your applicant profile and we have a record in which we can input incoming materials.

I think of the process in this way: When you submit the online application, it tells us that you have moved from being a prospective student to an applicant and we should begin working hard to compile your materials for consideration. You might be surprised at the number of prospective students who begin an application but do not submit it.

One of my letter writers says that he/she cannot provide a letter for me anymore, but I’ve already entered this info into my online application and have submitted it. What should I do?

You have options, depending on how far along your letter writer is in the process. Instructions can be found here for those of you who have entered this information into the online application.

If you find that you cannot change this information in your online application because your letter writer is too far along in the process, simply send an email to lsa-commphd@umich.edu and we will work with you to in-take a letter from a different recommender.

One of my letter writers has missed the December 1st deadline! What should I do?

First, remind them of the deadline and that the letter must be received asap. Second, send an email to lsa-commphd@umich.edu to let us know that it’s on its way. After December 1st, when we know how many applications we will be processing for the Fall 2016 admission, I can provide you a specific deadline date extension.

To help prevent forgotten letters, please check the status of your letters of recommendation prior to the deadline and resend the notification email to your recommenders using the ApplyWeb Activty Page.

If your question was not answered in this blog post and you have a question for Amy, please feel free to email her at lsa-commphd@umich.edu or call (734) 615-8974, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

cropped-Comm-Studies-Logo3.jpg

State Power, Digital Technocrats, and Internet Freedom Promotion: Muzammil Hussain

muazmmil3Muzammil M. Hussain is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Faculty Associate in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Hussain conducts research at the intersection of global communication and comparative politics. This past summer Hussain was a visiting scholar at Cambridge University’s Digital Humanities Network and Oxford University’s Program on Comparative Media Law and Policy, while conducting fieldwork in London to understand how the private sector has participated in, and been affected by, recent digitally-enabled protest cascades, and online surveillance and censorship of citizens worldwide.

Communication Studies: You just finished conducting research over the past summer. Can you give us an overview of the topic?

Muzammil Hussain: In January 2010, then-Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton and now runner-up Democratic Presidential nominee launched the US-backed coalition to promote internet freedom. Since then, advanced industrialized Western democratic states from the Global North have been working to promote the Freedom Online Coalition. The international regime is currently the most organized effort by mostly democratic countries to combat risks to internet freedom, especially as internet controls are pervasive around the world, especially in authoritarian countries, but also in democratic countries. Furthermore, recent revelations that many countries, especially democratic countries, have been conducting pervasive and illegal surveillance of their own citizens, and global citizens, have complicated efforts to promote and secure internet freedom. Since 2012, after the Arab Spring revolutions of 2010-2011 and the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011-2012, I have been researching the post-protest “information war” taking place between digital rights activists and governments — both are struggling to control digital infrastructure and online communication. In 2012, my fieldwork focused on the Middle East and North Africa, investigating how digital activists used ICTs to mobilize against repressive governments; in 2013, my fieldwork focused on Western Europe and North America, investigating how policy entrepreneurs informing democratic governments were collecting and synthesizing lessons from recent political events about the utility, impacts, and risks of ICTs. My most recent, and final, period fieldwork has focused on the final piece of this unfolding puzzle: the role of the private sector and political technologists that produce the surveillance, censorship, and circumvention tools used by both governments and activists, and increasingly by journalists covering critical issues and operating in risky environments.

CS: You joined the Comm Faculty last year, what were you doing previously?

MH: Before joining the Department of Communication Studies at Michigan, I was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) in Doha, where I was doing social computing research — this area of research exploits the vast amount of analytics data collected from global populations towards addressing social issues and problems. While at QCRI, I consulted with Al Jazeera Online, the Brookings Institution, and other media and policy units, to develop new research methods to address issues relating to studying political formations and news media consumption in emerging countries. Prior to QCRI, I was a pre-doctoral fellow in Sweden at the Jonkoping International Business School and in Switzerland at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where I completed research fellowships in media management and transformation, and comparative and international studies, respectively.

CS: What motivated you to pursue research in Communication Studies?

MH: My research draws from and contributes to three arenas, including international political communication, complexity and causality in comparative research, and science and technology studies. I was motivated by these areas in communication studies because ours is a cutting-edge field that draws from multi-disciplinary environments and synthesizes a variety of intellectual practices to produce inter-disciplinary results. I am a strong supporter of this discipline because it is defined by epistemological pluralism and methodological pragmatism. This means that if you are interested in studying the real world in all its complexities, this is one of the best disciplines in allowing you to develop multiple ways of thinking about critical issues and finding the best tools available to investigating them. We are an open-minded and forward-thinking discipline and it’s a very exiting space to contribute to.

CS: Was there something in particular that was attractive to you about coming to the University of Michigan?

MH: Coming to Michigan was an important and foundational choice in my career. While I was comparing tenure-track invitations from similar research and teaching intensive institutions, Michigan stood out, and this department’s culture and orientation made the conclusive mark in many ways. First, Michigan is by far one of the most important centers for social scientific research — some of the most important classical approaches, and the current cutting-edge strategies for social research are being formulated here. Second, while many departments of communication studies can be described as specializing in specific modes of inquiry or ways of thinking, ours stands out instead by organizing itself in clusters of interdisciplinary scholarship that draw from multiple ways of thinking, all contributing to the discipline of communication studies. I was encouraged to choose Michigan above other institutions because I was offered the resources and the encouragement to be creative and interdisciplinary in doing and teaching communication research.

CS: How is your research relevant today? What are the implications for today’s society?

muzammil4MH: I have two major tracks of research. My first area of research centers on helping to extend the sub-discipline of political communication to inform non-democratic countries. The central research question here is, “How do ICTs and digital media enable democratization and/or authoritarianism?” This body of work helps us understand how political communication practices and structures are organized and relevant in places we tend to overlook when examining formal politics and communication. It turns out that thinking outside of the 15 percent of the world that lives in advanced industrialized Western democracies to include 85 percent of the rest of the world that lives in developing and emerging societies allows us to both extend existing political communication concepts and theories, and identify new issues in political communication that have been overlooked. My second area of research, as described earlier, revolves around the central question “How are powerful actors—like governments, activists, and technologists—building political opportunities and affordances into ICTs and digital media?” This is very relevant to both the future of authoritarian and democratic countries at large, because the experts and designers shaping the communication tools that we communicate with, and regulating these socio-technical spaces we communicate in, can have a significant impact in the quality of democratic governance and political culture created. For example, surveillance, censorship, and circumvention tools and policies shape both citizens’ and journalists’ ability to communicate about and report on the affairs of governance. In many ways, internet infrastructure at large has provided new safe spaces and opportunity structures for citizens and journalists to do the important work of reporting on and holding our governments accountable. However, we are currently watching and documenting that governments, both democratic and authoritarian, are learning and re-configuring these ICT tools and digital environments to be more closed and perhaps risky to engage in democratic activities.

CS: What were some of the challenges you experienced in conducting this research? Did the research yield any unexpected results?

MH: There were some professional and personal challenges in doing this kind of research. For example, studying the kind of experts and activists working in this intersection is quite challenging — they are located around the world, and reaching them to conduct interviews and observations is very difficult. Several grants and fellowships have supported my ability visit and live in the Middle East, North Africa, Western Europe and North America to do ethnographies, observations, and interviews. Furthermore, because this research requires traveling to places that are undergoing political transformations and upheaval, there were times when personal safety has been risky. For example, some internet freedom activists work in places like Beirut, Tunis, Dubai, where researching political and social issues is challenging both for the researcher and especially for the research subjects. So this requires developing human-subjects protection compliant methods and tactics, especially when collecting data in unstable regions with sensitive populations. So far the results have been both unexpected and very exciting. I have found, contrary to early expectations, that the kind of individuals formulating internet freedom activities are quite niche and well-networked. For example, the digital activists in the Global South are connected to elite policy makers in the Global North often within less than 2-3 degrees of separation. This means that there is in fact a dense global network of digital technocrats who are designing tools and policies with close affinity and awareness of each other’s concerns, even though they are distributed over several countries across regions. At the same time, these observations are reflective of existing studies on the power of epistemic networks and communities of practice, which have found that small groups of expert individuals can have significant impacts on the world we live in.

CS: What course are you most excited to teach this winter?

MH: This winter I will be offering a graduate-level seminar on the international-political economy of global ICT Innovation. Technology and innovation is a topic covered in many social and especially applied sciences, but it’s important to recognize that communication studies has been one of the most important fields that has contributed to, and continues to do cutting-edge work in the area of global communication technologies. This course will offer graduate students the opportunity to build from the foundations of this research area in communication studies, drawing on core-communication thinkers like Wilbur Schramm and Everett Rogers, to current research in the field at the intersections of national development, communication innovation, and data citizenship. Most importantly, we will draw on the latest case studies from around the world, from the Silicon Valleys and Roundabouts of the Global North to the Silicon Savannahs and Prairies of the Global South, to unpack how significantly interrelated communication technology industries are in organizing and disrupting the efforts of international states in governing their populations.

CS: Tell us your plans for future research, teaching, or other academic opportunities.

MH: Since 2014, I have been part of the Digital Middle East Initiative at the School of Foreign Services at Georgetown University. This initiative has brought together a team of international experts from around the world to programmatically research the intersections of “the digital” and “the Middle East,” and this community of interlocutors at Georgetown SFS’ Center for International and Regional Studies has been foundational in defining my future research trajectory which is at the intersections of bio data and social data mergers and in the Global South. This refers to the multi-billion dollar industries centered on launching research and development startups operating in spaces like India, China, Indonesia, that alongside Silicon Valley outfits, are in the business of marrying bio-informatics with social-informatics, and applying these data and analytics practices towards governance challenges facing emerging states and their massive populations. My next multi-year project, housed in the project for “Bio-Social Data, Innovation, and Governance” (Big-DIG) at the Institute for Social Research and the International Institute, is a comparative study of “very-large countries” (countries with populations much larger than the global average of 30 million) and their high-tech data-intensive industries, and the implications of these industries for formulating and instrumentalizing new methods for managing their citizen populations. Principal fieldwork on this project is scheduled for the summers of 2016 and 2017 in East Asia, and South Asia. This project presents several upcoming opportunities for interested graduate and undergraduate students to contribute to the research by means of international travel for field research, and analysis of complex datasets to study organizations and practices in these new communication industries.

CS: After having gone through the process, do you have advice for students that are looking to pursue a doctorate program?

MH: Yes — research, especially doctoral research, requires both professional training and ongoing apprenticeship. If you are interested in undergoing doctoral training, it is never too soon to start. For undergraduate students, universities like Michigan offer amazing opportunities to learn by doing and experience the process of discovery. This department’s independent and directed research credits are a fantastic avenue for getting a taste of the research experience, as are the Honors Program and the UROP opportunities. Research-and-development is a very rewarding and enriching arena for professional and intellectual development, and communication studies is an intersecting hub for many epistemologies and methodologies. At the very least, hands-on research experiences give students the opportunities to confront course knowledge with applied practice and test out ideas. This kind of applied curiosity is very much valued by both academia and industry alike.

CS: Since you are in the Communication Studies industry, are you able to disengage from thinking critically about the media-saturated world and if so, how?

MH: It’s difficult, but absolutely necessary. It’s difficult because it’s incredibly enriching to be in the profession that is also your chosen hobby: I get paid to think critically about international media industries and global politics and teach about it all to my students. The poet Khalil Gibran wrote, “Work is love made visible,” and I can’t think of a more enjoyable profession to work in. But it’s necessary to take breaks from doing this because it’s easy to over-indulge, and a well-lived life is a balancing act – my favorite methods for doing what I’m passionate about and being balanced are by disconnecting to travel and enjoying the wilderness, or to cook (sometimes terribly!) for family and friends over b-level sci-fi and 90s action cinema.

Conducting fieldwork in London.

Conducting fieldwork in London.

More fieldwork in London.

More fieldwork in London.

Communication Studies Fall Convocation Confirmed Comm Is The Place To Be – Morgan Cullen

With midterms picking up and fall recruiting in full swing, many students are trying to decide on which major or career path is right for them. Attendees of the Communication Studies Fall 2015 Convocation would enthusiastically report the answer is Comm.

The Communication Studies department welcomed newly declared majors with Pizza House, new Communication Studies T-Shirts, and the opportunity to network with department leaders, GSIs, professors, and fellow students. It was refreshing to hear from department leaders and distinguished faculty that Comm is a coveted major that often ensures recent graduates a competitive advantage in the job market.

Chair Coleman and Roni Stein, an executive member of MACS, participating in the "Go Blue" chant

Chair Coleman and Roni Stein, an executive member of MACS participating in the “Go Blue” chant

The event opened with a rowdy, interactive “Go Blue” chant from new Communication Studies Department Chair, Robin Coleman. Her encouraging speech reminded all the newly declared Comm students of the “world-class education” we are receiving “right here, right now.” Coleman described Comm students at the University of Michigan as critical thinkers and advocates for change who are continuously “busting stereotypes wide open.” She went on to discuss many successful Comm Studies alumni, like Jane Viventi of Riot Games, and encouraged us to continue to be leaders and elicit change.

Next, Associate Chair Professor Harrison approached the podium. Professor Harrison highlighted three critical skills for the workplace that the Communication Studies major helps develop:

1. Literacy: not just reading, but also the ability to read deeper into messages

2. Numeracy: understanding how to unpack arguments in media messages

3. Ecolacy: the ability to see the whole picture as well as how all the components work together to compose that picture

Harrison went on to outline communication studies career paths and their corresponding classes within the department; these suggestions are listed on a handout students can pick up from Comm department at any time. She ended by explaining the heavy reliance on media citizens have today. This reliance, according to Professor Harrison, makes Comm students a hot commodity in the job market.

Last to speak was Hannah Schiff—the President of the Michigan Association of Communication Studies (MACS). Hannah highlighted how helpful MACS has been to her professional development and encouraged all Comm students to get involved. From recruiting events to professional development events like Resume workshops, cover letter reviews, and LinkedIn seminars, there is a MACS event for everyone. Whether you are a Comm student or any rising professional MACS has something to offer. Schiff called the students to follow MACS and the Comm Department on social media for updates.

MACS
• Instagram and Twitter: @MACS_umich
• Facebook & LinkedIn:”MACS: Michigan Association of Communication Studies”
Comm Department
• Twitter: @UM_CommStudies
• Facebook: “University of Michigan Department of Communication Studies”
• LinkedIn: University of Michigan Communication Studies

After the speeches concluded, Comm Department Faculty distributed the new Communication Studies T-Shirts and the pizza party ensued! An array of Pizza House pizzas, desserts, and drinks were gobbled up as students mingled with professors, GSIs, and department leaders. From expressing gratitude for excellent Comm studies curriculum to chatting about favorite hobbies, the room was abuzz.

Declared majors and faculty attended the event

Declared majors and faculty attended the event

Faculty handing out t-shirts to students

Faculty handing out t-shirts to students

Welcoming the New Department Chair: Robin Means Coleman

Project Humanities Launch WeekThursday night panel.Happy autumn! Fall is one of my favorite seasons, bringing with it colorful foliage, cooler temperatures perfect for outdoor activities, and tasty apple cider. Poet John Keats aptly described autumn as a season of “mellow fruitfulness.”

In Communication Studies, fall marks the beginning of a bustling academic year that is most certainly “fruitful,” but whose energy is far from “mellow.”

These are exciting times as we just completed an external review of our department. We are benefiting from a new, comprehensive department governance structure. More, we are enlivened as we continue to chart innovative scholarly and pedagogical routes. These intellectual pathways will enhance our already stellar reputation as globally recognized disciplinary leaders.

Our department is celebrating new faculty arrivals. I am absolutely thrilled to welcome three new faculty members to the department. Reighan Gillam, an Assistant Professor, joins us from the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, here at the University of Michigan, where she completed a research fellowship. Reighan’s research focuses on Afro-Brazilian racial politics in commercial television. She is completing a book on the development of a Black television network—TV de Gente—in Sāo Paulo, Brazil. Katherine Sender, a Full Professor, arrives from the University of Auckland in New Zealand bringing her expertise in gender, sexuality, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer representation. Her current research focuses on sex museums and transnational sexual mobilities. Brian Weeks, an Assistant Professor, comes to us after completing a research fellowship at the University of Vienna. His research focuses on political communication with particular attention to affect, misperceptions, misinformation, and rumor. He is concerned with how inaccurate political beliefs emerge.

Our ranks continue to grow as we also welcome one of our larger doctoral student cohorts. I extend greetings to Sedona Chinn, Stewart M. Coles, Dia Das, Ian Hawkins, Dan Hiaeshutter-Rice, Sage Lee, Sriram Mohan, and Emily Saidel. At the undergraduate level, we continue to be one of the most popular majors on campus. Our new Associate Chairs, Kris Harrison (undergraduate program) and Aswin Punathambekar (graduate program) are directing their respective programs with an eye toward advancing cutting-edge curricula, fostering diversity, and supporting students with their professional development goals.

Our halls will be teeming with visitors who will be joining us for several stimulating events. These events include, but are certainly not limited to:

• Fall Convocation (October 6) in which we welcome our new and returning majors.

• Global Media Studies Initiative (October 8-9). This inaugural symposium kicks off the formal establishment of the Initiative in the department. Guest speakers Wendy Willems (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Michael Curtin (UC Santa Barbara) will discuss where the field of global media is heading, as well as the globalization of media production.

• Entertainment Media Career Forum (November 13), which brings back alumni to provide career mentoring for our students.

• The Marsh Lecture (date TBD), presented by Louisa Lim, the Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism. Lim is author of the award-winning book The People Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited.

• Colloquium (Thursdays, 4-5:30), in which we hear from a range of presenters about new scholarly inroads.

• And, of course, we are already looking ahead toward the Department’s Commencement (April 29, noon) where we celebrate our graduates and shake the rafters with cheers of “Go Blue!”

Finally, we are in the process of completing some welcome renovations. The 7th floor has been sound-proofed to support the inventive research being conducted in our various research labs. The graduate student lab is in the process of receiving a major overhaul, to include new paint and furniture. We look forward to an open house celebrating our graduate students’ recent achievements and showcasing the lab’s new look. Finally, the 5th floor will be brought to life with artwork, furniture, and other enhancements.

In short, Communication Studies is the place to be if you want an intellectually dynamic, far from mellow environment.

Join MACS, the Michigan Association of Communication Studies! – Jordan Gavens

macs 2As the semester is quickly underway, students may be trying to figure out what clubs to join on campus. Usually a few thoughts commonly come to mind: “What clubs match my interests?” “Where can I go to seek professional and career driven advice?” “How can I meet other students similar to myself?” Well, by attending the Michigan Association of Communication Studies Mass Meeting on Monday, September 21 (6:30pm in NQ Space 2435), students will quickly find that this organization provides many of the qualities they seek in a club on campus.

The Michigan Association of Communication Studies, commonly referred to as MACS, is a student-run organization supported by the Communication Studies department that helps students explore career opportunities in communications related fields. By hosting numerous recruiting and networking events with leaders in the retail, marketing, advertising, public relations, and journalism industries, MACS has shown students how their academic experiences can translate into the real world. Additionally, MACS helps students explore the Communication Studies degree by providing advising resources, allowing students to gain assistance and advice on a diverse array of topics including Communications courses, professors, and requirements.

MACS has established itself as one of the leading clubs on campus for recruiting and networking events. Over the past few years, hundreds of Michigan students have attended MACS events hosted by some of the country’s most successful and profitable businesses and agencies. Past companies include Domino’s Pizza, Walgreens, Steve Madden, Trunk Club, David Yurman, Eisbrenner PR, Starcom, and W Magazine to name a few.

Not a Communications major? No worries – MACS events are open to everyone! At the Mass Meeting, MACS executive board members will speak on the requirements to be considered an official member, talk about some of the exciting upcoming events, and expand on the resources they can offer to their members. The anticipation is building on campus for students waiting to hear what recruiters will be hosting an event with MACS this year. To let you in on the secret, students can expect a visit from Target’s recruiting coordinator to hear about what it is like to work at one of the world’s leading retailers and the internship and job opportunities available at their headquarters. Additionally, Weber Shandwick, a leading global PR agency will be coming by campus anxiously waiting to meet MACS members as well.

So what can a student gain by coming to the Mass Meeting on Monday? Students can meet other students who are interested in the communication field, learn about upcoming recruiting and networking events, and get to know MACS executive board which is made up of a dozen Communication Studies majors who can provide advice on the major, internship experiences, and can answer any general questions students may have about how MACS can help prepare them for the future. So make sure to swing by North Quad Space 2435 on Monday, September 21 at 6:30 to eat some pizza, learn about the organization, and get involved on campus! Can’t wait to see you there!

Mass meeting: Monday, September 21 at 6:30 in North Quad Space 2435

Mass meeting: Monday, September 21 at 6:30 in North Quad Space 2435