Students learn the art of communication from the pros

RIT’s Communicating Connections helps students consider careers in communications




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A. Sue Weisler

RIT Associate Professor Keith Jenkins talks about career options with Deanna Desinord, 16, left, and Michaye Owens, 17, both students at James Monroe High School in Rochester, during a networking session at Communicating Connections.

You don’t have to be a professional orator to benefit from the skills of public speaking.

That’s what Deanna Desinord, 16, a student in Monroe High School, in Rochester discovered Tuesday in “Communicating Connections,” a professional career development workshop hosted by Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Communication.

“I learned how you can walk around doing public speaking and use hand gestures to make your point,” said Desinord, who has a short-term goal of being a lawyer, and a long-term goal of being president.

She was one of more than 200 area high school students and 250 RIT students who attended the workshop.

“It’s a daylong event with numerous interactive sessions offering mentoring and feedback from communications experts and professionals, “ said co-organizer Ammina Kothari, assistant professor in RIT’s School of Communication.

“There are all sorts of career exploration workshops for students exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, but not that many for liberal arts,” said Kari Barone, senior lecturer in RIT’s School of Communication and event co-organizer. “Our students really need to know there are jobs for them in the communications field, and what they can do with their degrees.”

Speakers – including RIT faculty members and several communications experts not affiliated with RIT – talked about careers in public relations, marketing, health communications, sports broadcasting, building a resume and more. Nicole Noren, a documentary producer from ESPN, talked about how to produce in-depth investigative stories in a multimedia world.

Hearing from professionals was what appealed most to Lauren Peace, a second-year RIT student from Morgantown, W.Va., majoring in journalism and advertising/public relations. She hopes to become a print or broadcasting reporter after graduation.

“It was a unique opportunity to hear from seasoned professionals in a personal environment and it provided great insight into what a career in the field might entail and how to get there,” Peace said.

Daquan Brown, 18, a student from James Monroe High School in Rochester, said he wasn’t thinking about a career in communications, but rather something in business or engineering. Still, he benefitted from attending.

“I learned what I can do to get an audience’s attention,” Brown said. “That’s going to help me now even in high school with presentations I have coming up.”

This is the third year for the program, and the first that involved high school students. Their visit was made possible by Junior Achievement of Central Upstate New York.