What I Learned In: Feature Writing

29 12 2010

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

Before I took Feature Writing, I thought I already knew everything about the craft. I had published feature stories before, so what else was there to learn?

Quite a lot, actually.

In professor Vincent Filak‘s course, we dived into the world of feature stories by exploring the use of narrative and descriptive language to create a detailed world for readers to experience. The class also sharpened our writing skills through a variety of workshops and assignments.

Up to this point in my journalism education it has been drilled in my head to be objective and not include any opinions. What I came to understand through Feature Writing is that you can still follow those rules but still add scenery and depth to your writing. Our assignments included writing scene-setters, vividly explaining how a place looked or felt like. We also produced profile stories, not only documenting a person’s history, but also noting the little things in their life, like gestures they make or the tone of their voice.

My favorite times in the class were when we tried our best to describe our senses. In one class we had to put our hands into mysterious boxes, feeling unknown substances within, which were usually sticky or moist. I loved watching the class cringe in horror as they rolled up their sleeves and gingerly slipped their arms into the boxes. We then had to think of the best adjectives to match the sensations that we felt. It was an exercise that really made me think about the vocabulary that I use in my writing and realized how limited it was.

I felt like my writing truly grew through this course. From writing personal experiences to how-to pieces, we not only developed a stronger voice, but also learned how to write new types of stories. We even dabbled in more advanced reporting, where we had to create multimedia pieces and blog posts that were not only a written story, but also a video, a side-bar story and sound clips.

While it may have been rough at times, and once in while it felt overwhelming, I feel that Feature Writing further expanded my ability to write and made me more eager, and prepared, to tell great and memorable stories.


Steil’s Summer Internship Prepared Her for Graduation

17 12 2010

By Katie Steil, UWO alumna, ’10 (@ksteil2)

This summer, I not only had the chance to hone my public relations skills and learn a great deal about media relations, communication strategies, and event planning, but I did it all in the city I love; Chicago. I had one of the most amazing summers that I’ll never forget.

Every morning the alarm clock would ring around 6:30 a.m. and I couldn’t wait to get out the door to face the bustling streets of the Windy City. To get to work, I would take the #3 or #4 bus north two miles from South Michigan Avenue (where I lived) to North Michigan Avenue (where I worked). When I arrived at my office building, I took the elevator to the 21st floor and began the workday. I worked as a public relations intern at the American Health Information Management Association. I know, it has a long name, but it’s basically an association for health information management professionals and my job was to assist the public relations team with media relations, national convention planning and member communications.


Katie Steil in front of her company's office on North Michigan Avenue, Chicago.


Throughout the summer I worked on a variety of projects. I wrote press releases and media pitches, executed a media plan promoting a conference, contacted and followed up with reporters about the conference, tracked AHIMA’s media coverage, managed the AHIMA Careers Facebook page, posted content to two of AHIMA’s websites (HIcareers.com and myPHR.com), edited and wrote website copy, and helped plan/promote AHIMA’s National Convention in Orlando. As you can tell, my days were busy and I gained more experience in PR than I ever imagined I could in one summer.

Some of you might be wondering how I discovered an internship in Chicago. I learned about the position through Big Shoes Network last April. If you are not familiar with this resource, I strongly suggest clicking on the link. It’s a great job seeking tool for anyone who is looking for a PR, advertising, graphic design, copywriting, website design or marketing position in Minnesota, Illinois or Wisconsin.

Not only did I enjoy my job in Chicago this summer, but I also enjoyed the entertainment, shopping and the scenery. There was so much to see and do, and working on Michigan Avenue allowed me to be right in the middle of all the action.  When the Blackhawks won the Stanley cup, the parade went right by my office and I got to see the Stanley Cup. A few scenes of “Transformers 3” were filmed by my work and I even got to see Shia Labeouf on set one day.

Overall, my summer internship in Chicago turned out to be an extremely fulfilling experience that enabled me to learn a lot about public relations in the city I love. Watch out Chicago, I may just move back someday.

Students, Are You Prepared for Life After Graduation?

16 12 2010

By Brittany Dorfner, UWO alumna, ‘08 (@Brittany_D)

Last month, it was my pleasure to participate in the Journalism Department’s Mock Interviews. My first time as an employer (versus the three times I participated as a potential employee) stirred a number of different feelings; the most notable being excitement. I looked forward to speaking with students about their in-class and internship experiences, and hearing their questions about life after graduation and landing that first “real-world” job.

Since I was representing my public relations agency, C. Blohm & Associates, I assumed most of the students I interviewed would be enrolled in the PR/Ad or PR track, with most of their classes being of that focus; however, many had taken classes from all emphases of the Journalism program. I had to commend them for expanding their education outside the PR/Ad focus. These days, the PR professional needs to be a jack-of-all-trades, and expanding one’s knowledge outside the core PR curriculum is a great way to start honing other important skills.

In addition to broadening one’s education, I also couldn’t stress the importance of internships enough.  As an undergrad, I remember how often we were told to have multiple internships completed by graduation. While a good education is important, there are still things you can learn only outside the classroom walls.

According to U.S. News & World Report, PR Specialist ranks among the top 50 careers in 2011. Although job growth is predicted, competition will still be fierce, making internship experience even more important for students to showcase their skills. Even volunteer projects with community organizations can prove helpful. While you may not get paid, you can utilize your budding skills and add the final materials to your growing portfolio. Plus, working as an unpaid volunteer speaks to your desire to work in the field.

My last words for these students, “Don’t forget to network!” As I’m sure many have said before, networking is extremely important in this industry. Start with your professors, and get to know the professionals you meet through agency tours, club presentations (e.g., PRSSA, Ad Club), or connect with former alumni. Thankfully, with social media tools like Twitter, you can find and follow professionals (even those you may not know) and start engaging with them, sharing content they would find interesting and useful. If you notice they’re going to a professional event, attend the same event and introduce yourself in person – get the conversation going.

For those of you with a few years to go, start looking for those internships now and ask your professors what additional classes, projects or opportunities could enhance the skills you’re building. If you’re graduating soon, keep practicing your craft. If you could use more internship experience, keep your eyes open. A full-time, entry-level job may be ideal, but might not be available without additional experience as a stepping stone. Use the resources available to find your next venture in PR, and feel free to reach out – I’m available via e-mail at brittany.dorfner@gmail.com, or via LinkedIn.

Good luck!

Internships are the Gateway to a Career

15 12 2010

By Barb Benish, Internship Coordinator for the Department of Journalism

If you want a job in the journalism field after graduation, then you should be applying for internships while in college. In fact, many employers are saying one internship is no longer enough. They are looking to hire people who have had two, three — even four — internships.

Now is the time to apply for both spring and summer internships. Look on the Journalism Department’s internship website to find out about internship possibilities. But you should also look at Titan Jobs, Big Shoes Network, company websites and other websites that post journalism internships. (There are a bunch of links on the bottom of the department’s internship website to get you going.

I’ve been getting a lot of positions this last week and been posting them online, so make sure to look on our internship website, as well as Titan Jobs, even through January since I’ll continue to post them as they come in.

Also, don’t forget the power of networking. Tell everyone — from mom and dad, to aunts and uncles, to cousins, friends and neighbors — that you are looking for internships. That’s often how internships are found.

Before you apply, make sure your resume and cover letter are perfect. Go to Career Services for help, or contact me, Barb Benish, the Journalism Department’s internship coordinator, at benish@uwosh.edu. So what are you waiting for? If you want a job tomorrow, get an internship today.

Advance-Titan Wins Another Award

14 12 2010

The Advance-Titan has been selected as one of eCollegeFinder’s Top 50 Student Publications Award winners, the second award the paper received this semester.

According to the eCollegeFinder site, the award is designed to “recognize the student-run publications that best represent their school and the needs of its students.”

The site says college newspapers are one of the most important parts of any university.

“This award also seeks to be a resource for students as they better themselves through education and exposure to the world,” the eCollegeFinger site says. “In today’s world of high-pace information, student newspapers offer valuable local and national information with a creative and professional twist.”

The site also stresses the importance of journalism and current events.

“[T]he power of the written word should never be underestimated,” the site states. “By reading and processing written materials, we become more informed about our world as well as those around us. These life lessons are enabled in part by the recognized publications.”

Adrienne Hilbert, one of the editors of the A-T, said she was caught off guard by the prize.

“Me and [fellow editor] Emily Williams freaked out,” Hilbert said. “That’s two awards in one semester. That puts us on the map and makes us look good.”

Vincent Filak, journalism professor and adviser for the A-T, said he was proud the publication had won another award this semester.

“It’s always gratifying to know that people out there see us as a quality source of campus news,” Filak said. “The students work really hard week in and week out to make us as good as we can be.”

Read about the first award the A-T won here.

New Social Media Internship

13 12 2010

My Bekins, one of America’s largest moving and storage companies is, offering an unpaid social media internship during the winter interim period next month. The intern will have the opportunity to learn the industry and support the Marketing Department operations at their Chicago headquarters.

The company is looking for an intern who will bring a keen sense of effective social media tactics and propose new strategies in addition to carrying out assigned tasks. A flexible yet consistent commitment of approximately 35-40 hours per week during the winter interim is expected, although qualified candidates who possess SEO/SEM skills may have the opportunity to work more hours after interim.



Requirements for the internship are:

• Experience working knowledge in social networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), blogging and message boards preferred

• Online research of new and emerging sites

• Experience in SEO and SEM is preferred, but not required

• Excellent analytical and research skills

• Ability to multitask efficiently

• MS Office Suite

• Dependable/Reliable

• Strong desire to be a “team player”

• Excellent verbal and written communication


Although this opportunity is an unpaid internship, the student will gain:

• Working in a professional environment with multiple communication layers

• Ability to test learned marketing methods in a practical application for success

• Creative writing for business

• Working with a company open to new ideas and trying imaginative marketing approaches


Please send resume and cover letter to Jon Huser at jhuser@mybekins.com. Based on the individual circumstances, there is a potential for assistance with housing accommodations. The application deadline is Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.

For additional information about My Bekins please visit their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

More internship opportunities are posted on the Department of Journalism website. See what other positions are available.

Owner of Spark Advertising Gives Advice to Principles of Ad Class

9 12 2010

Kristin KaneBy Kristin Kane (@KrisNicoleKane)

Last week, Principles of Advertising students had the privilege of hosting Mark Elliott, the owner of SPARK Advertising in Neenah, Wis. Elliott, a UW Oshkosh alum, offered a great deal of insight on how to be a successful student and how to use one’s time in college resourcefully in order to prepare for the business world. Elliott also discussed the importance of social media and how it can be used to network and enhance one’s portfolio.

The key social media platforms that Elliott suggested were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs. Facebook and Twitter are useful ways for businesses to be directly connected to their clients and for colleagues to be able to update one another quickly and efficiently. LinkedIn is a more business-oriented social platform that allows professionals and aspiring professionals to connect and share contacts with one another. Recruiters also use LinkedIn to help prospective employees to find jobs. Blogs allow individuals and businesses to discuss specific topics relating to their areas of interest in an online journal format. When credible, Elliott discussed, blogs can be extremely useful tools to gain information about a company, person or topic.

Elliott encourages students and business people of all skill and experience levels to have knowledge of these social media platforms. Elliott also gave Principles of Advertising a few helpful hints on how to successfully break in to the business world: establish a LinkedIn profile, network (get involved in on-campus clubs), display initiative (apply for and receive internships), have a compelling and respectful attitude (Elliott believes that advancement is more often achieved through attitude than education), have a business card, and finally, have a sufficient amount of technology education. Although social media is a new and constantly changing social platform, their goal is the same as it has been for decades: networking and academic/business advancement.

Elliott reminded students to stay current, updated and informed in order to break through the clutter and allow one’s voice to be heard and one’s name to be known. Principles of Advertising was extremely fortunate to receive such helpful and insightful information from a person who truly knows how to do just that.

View the presentation Elliott gave to Principles of Advertising, including pictures of the company’s building, the advertisements they have created and more.