By Vicky Conroy Agency Director
From the moment I stepped foot in Allen Hall in 2016, I knew I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities offered there. The UO School of Journalism and Communication has over 30 student organizations, each with its own focus. I saw many of my passions reflected in them and had even joined a few. But I felt there was something missing.
I quickly discovered that one of my greatest passions was multimedia and video production. After completing the Gateway to Media sequence, I registered for J409: Allen Hall Studios, a small experiential learning course taught by Assistant Professor Ed Madison. Even though I was just a sophomore and felt totally unprepared, and in my opinion unqualified, I was accepted to the course and began learning immediately.
The course required students to partner with Portland TriMet in winter 2017 to produce a video. We worked for the entire term producing, shooting, participating in workshops and editing, until we had a finished product to show the client. We developed a lot of valuable skills, including talking to clients to ensure the vision they want is portrayed, interviewing, camera operation and lighting. I loved every second of this course, and I thought maybe it could be something more.
The Making of an Agency
Maya Lazaro, the SOJC’s faculty advisor for J409, reached out and asked if I would be interested in turning the course into a student-run agency. I immediately said yes. It was the ideal situation for me: a student-run agency where I could use my public relations skills — including writing, strategy, and client communications — while feeding both my passion for videography and my portfolio by producing multimedia projects for real-world clients.
I quickly realized I couldn’t do all this pre-planning alone, so I asked my friend Matty Leech to help. We worked together to organize and plan out what we wanted the agency to look like. Then we crafted promotional emails to send to SOJC students about the new opportunity taking shape in Allen Hall.
Although I was excited for the agency to be up and running, I was honestly terrified that nobody beyond Maya and Matty would show interest. Boy, was I wrong! Our agency is open to all majors within the SOJC, so I knew we could reach a lot of students with a wide variety of skill sets. But I still wasn’t expecting the huge response we received. We had over 150 applicants in one week.
An interview process hadn’t even crossed my mind, but since there were only 24 spots available, we had to narrow down the pool. So Matty, Maya and I started the process of interviewing all our amazing applicants. I don’t just say “amazing” to be nice; I mean that we literally had some of the most talented and inspiring people apply to be a part of the first-ever Allen Hall Media team. All the students seemed so excited to be a part of making the agency into what we wanted it to be.
I struggled during the interview process. A lot. How was I supposed to interview people who were my age, or even older, and decide who to keep and who to disappoint? I knew I wanted this process to be fair, so I had to put my bias and emotions aside and do what was best for the agency. I listened to every piece of advice Maya gave me, and we selected a team of 24 students with the goal of expanding the agency each term.
We are now in full swing as far as production, and on our second term as an agency. We learned a lot during our first term in the fall as far as what worked and what didn’t. Our staff participates in workshops each week on a specific topic, such as lighting, photography and editing, to ensure they are gaining the skills to produce work our clients need. Our producers are learning how to communicate effectively with clients from the initial meeting all the way to delivery of the final product. Also, this website was designed by our amazing creative team and they are working on keeping our brand consistent and engaging for our student audience.
We are also working with the UO Common Reading program to make a promotional video about the university’s book pick for the 2019-20 season, “Under the Feet of Jesus.”
Lastly, we have partnered with the City of Springfield and the Economic Development Program to produce photography highlighting manufacturing jobs in the community that often go unnoticed.
Keep an eye out on our social media, @allenhallmedia on all platforms, to see all the amazing work our team will be doing this year!
By Katie Dawes Copywriter
The world of media is exciting, fast-paced and at times, intimidating to future and new professionals. As many transition from their academic career to a professional one, it can be challenging to navigate the new working environment. Here is our advice to future and new professionals!
Ask for Feedback
It is important to find a mentor or environment where you feel comfortable to ask questions and/or advice. It is always a good idea to reach out for informal and formal feedback. Discussing accomplishments and improvements show you are both engaged and that you are eager to learn and grow.
Build Your Network
You’ve heard it before, but it’s all about who you know. Networking is a crucial component to advancing yourself in the professional world. Making connections and building a network has evolved so much in the digital age and it is more important than ever. Social media is a great tool to connect with people and establish yourself in the professional world. Platforms, like LinkedIn and Twitter, facilitate a professional space to demonstrate skills and engage with others.
Be a Sponge
At the beginning of your career, it’s crucial to stay hungry to learn. Retain as much information as possible by engaging and asking questions. Personal goal setting is a great way to ease the transition into the professional world while still actively retaining knowledge about the industry.
Give Them Everything and More
In order to stand out at the start of your career, always be proactive in your work and anticipate your employer’s needs. Give them more than they asked for and request for new projects or assignments when the opportunity arises.