The handshake – a firm gesture to let an employer know, “I’m ready for this.” Next comes the elevator pitch to communicate your vision in just one sentence. Central Michigan University senior Hanna Quinlan’s lasting impression pitch: “I provide the communication piece to the puzzle.”
Quinlan is the president of the Alliance for Women in Media at CMU, and during a group networking workshop she assists the members in brainstorming an elevator pitch to help them stand out at the career fair. The members also discuss what to wear, portfolios and resumes.
Speed networking is one way AWM prepares its members for the real world. Students across various majors at CMU look to the group as a way to get involved and develop skills for a career in media. The typical range includes students majoring in broadcast and cinematic arts, communication, integrative public relations, journalism, marketing and advertising.
AWM finds it especially important to empower women looking to land a job in the media industry.
Quinlan tells us that after nine years on CMU’s campus the alliance continues to harness the passion and power of women. The CMU chapter stems from a national Women in Media organization, which hosts the annual Gracie awards. The ceremony celebrates women who are making positive change and who further the discussion of living out a fulfilling career in media.
After accepting a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2015 Gracies, actress Cicely Tyson said, “Women have and continue to struggle to climb from the bottom of the ladder, but it is with the utmost determination that we reach for that next rung no matter how difficult the challenge.”
Tyson’s words embody what the CMU chapter strives for. Quinlan explains, “Whether that is to empower career development, engage in thought leadership or drive positive change for our industry and societal progress. AWM is motivated to improve the quality of the media.”
Each group activity is designed to give the members exposure to a professional environment. Quinlan joined AWM as a freshman and her experience has been irreplaceable.
“Not only have I been exposed to networking opportunities and workshop seminars, but I have grown as a person. From meeting my best friend to receiving internships, AWM has helped me develop my professional presence in the media world.”
Some students see a future in front of the camera, while some envision themselves as the first person in the office everyday writing copy and others hope to manage money and statistics in the marketing department.
The members of AWM recently took a trip to Detroit to learn how each of the different broadcast media fields interact. In Detroit they toured a public relations firm, an advertising agency and the news station WXYZ Channel 7. The group was able to speak with media professionals and see how a typical news station functions behind the scenes.
More often than not, it is difficult for women to catch a break in the male-dominated industry. According to a 2015 report from the Women’s Media Center, in evening broadcast news women are on camera 32 percent of the time; in print news, women report 37 percent of the stories; and on the wires, they amount for only 38 percent of the bylines. The Women’s Media Center works to make women more visible in the media. The change starts by training women and girls to be more media savvy and by launching activist campaigns.
As the workshop wraps up, Vice President of AWM Kelsey Howe shows the members her extensive portfolio, stressing that the effort is something employers really appreciate when talking to viable candidates.
Howe not only holds a big portfolio, but big dreams of her future as a media professional, hoping to one day be a sales manager at Google.
The mission of AWM is to prepare each and every member for the path that lies ahead after graduation, making them recruiter-ready and up for any challenge. The group moves forward as an alliance to help empower women on the way to making a name for themselves.
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