In an effort to increase awareness of opportunities within the communications field and to build alumni involvement with students, the University of Michigan’s Department of Communication Studies introduced its career exploration series event Friday at the Michigan Union.

Communication undergraduate students met and engaged with prominent alumni involved in the entertainment media industry. They shared their experiences for students to build future connections and understand what is needed to be successful.

Margaret Mason, undergraduate coordinator in the Communication Studies Department, said this year’s goal was to have more events and networking opportunities for students to attend.

“We strived to have more targeted career areas because we wanted the students who came to be really interested in the information being presented to them,” Mason said. “While this is smaller, which is what we expected, I think there will be continued consistent turnout for future events.”

Among those present to speak as panelists were Hillary Handelsman, a writer’s assistant for CBS’s “Life in Pieces,” and Rachel Schloss, a director of brand marketing at USA Networks. Others included Val Boreland, executive vice president of content strategy and acquisitions entertainment networks at NBCUniversal, and Alexandra Detwiler, an entertainment booking producer for NBC News.

Students were offered the opportunity to meet panelists face to face to ask personal questions they might not have been able to ask during the main event.

Some students, including LSA senior Flora Conley, were grateful this was included in the event.

“As a senior, I believe this is a great opportunity to learn more about the entertainment industry, especially since this is a profession I would like to get involved in,” Conley said. “To meet with alumni one on one, learn of their perspectives, in addition to receiving great advice is very helpful.”

In addition to students’ individual meetings with panelists, Melissa Bauernfeind, events and communications specialist, said it was helpful for students to hear how some panelists struggled to get to their current positions.

“I think what they are learning, especially if they are in the younger years of their studies is that they’re not quite sure what they want to do yet,” Bauernfeind said. 

Mason said this can help clear uncertainties looming after graduation.

“Most students do not have jobs lined up right after college,” Mason said. “This event showcases if you really want to be in a certain area, there’s a way to get there if you’re willing to work for it.”

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