Sunday, December 1, 2013

Interview with a Past Student from the Collaborative Program

      Choosing what to do after high school is tremendously stressful for most people. If you are anything like me, then the real stress came when deciding whether to take the college or university route. I have to pay for my own tuition, I am not rich, I don't like to waste my time and I was a very indecisive person. Those factors all made for a very difficult time in choosing my path. I spent what feels like hours and hours every single day on a computer, researching my options. However, it wasn't until I was halfway through my first year at Carleton University that I discovered "collaborative programs".

      Collaborative programs offer students a unique opportunity to complete a four-year university degree while also receiving a college diploma or certificate in just 4 years. This option is perfect for those who have to pay for their own tuition, are not rich, don't like to waste their time or are indecisive. Click here to find out more about Brock Universities' collaborative programs.
      Since this concept of "collaborating" is fairly new, not many people are aware of it or understand it. I am constantly having to explain and re-explain what I am doing. The easiest explanation so far is to simply say that I will be graduating with a degree in Media and Communications Studies from Brock University and a post-graduate certificate in Public Relations from Mohawk College in four years instead of five years; thereby, saving money and time.
   However, I want to explain it more. I believe everyone should be aware of collaborative programs! These programs respond to the workforce's need for professionals who possess both an academic and an applied skills background. They also give students an opportunity to establish what they would like to see in their future careers because many of these programs have field placements.
I have never met anyone who has taken part in a collaborative program so, I decided to reach out to a past Mohawk PR student and learn a little bit more about her experience and perspective of the program.
      Julie DeLiberato completed the Public Relations program last year and is currently in her fourth year at Brock University. Instead of summarizing her responses, I will simply post them below because Julie's responses were so well put together.

1.    After everything, are you still interested in PR?
a.    Most definitely. I’m always looking out for jobs I hope to get into and I look at everything from that point of view.

2.    Would you recommend doing a collaborative program in general(not necessarily PR) to other students?
a.    Definitely. It allows students to apply what they learn and it’s a step away from theory and is much more practical. It’s refreshing.

3.    What were your expectations before starting the PR program?
a.    I expected it to be much like University- Lecture style. I thought it would be a lot of learning about PR, strategies, theories, etc. I thought it would just be specializing my knowledge not necessarily my skills. I knew it would be a crazy year, super busy and demanding.

4.    Were your expectation met? How were they different?
a.    My expectations were exceeded. I was impressed with the practicality of the program. It was actually applying what you learn and it was very “real-world”. The program is gaining experience as opposed to simply learning. It was demanding and was a heavy work load but well worth it.

5.    How do you feel the program helped you prepare for the future?
a.    I feel very prepared. Seeing my fellow grads from The PR program land jobs in the field is good to hear and keeps me optimistic. I’m sure Tim has told you already but the program prepares you for that entry level job, and it really does.

6.    What do you consider to be the benefits and why, of doing a collaborative program?
a.    It’s a change of pace and you see your own growth in the collaborative program. It’s much more than using theory and writing a 16-page paper; it’s learning what works in the real-world and actually applying it and seeing your results.

7. What do you consider to be the negatives  and why, of doing a collaborative program?
a.    Honestly, It’s quite hard to get back into the University setting. I used to love writing essays and putting my thoughts to paper. It’s hard to do that now. For example, I have the urge to create a communications plan to promote an R&B artist as opposed to write an essay about why popular music has emerged since mass production and the critiques of mass culture theory.
b.    Also, not all of the professors are aware that I did the collab-program. So when you take a more practical approach in essays and treat it like a Case Study, it doesn’t always go over well.

8. How does it feel/what does it mean to you to be going back to university for another year and not getting right into the field.
a.    See Answer for #10.

b.    I found it very helpful to get a job in the field for the summer- I quit my job as a bartender and worked for Halton Catholic District School Board as a Communications Assistant and I also worked for Mohawk College & McKeil School of Business up until earlier this month. Tim emphasizes the importance of maintaining the relationships you create, and I intend to.

9. Do you feel that being a part of a collaborative program put you ahead of students who were not a part of a collaborative program? (in terms of when you were trying to find a placement)
a.    100%.
b.    The collaborative program I found to show initiative. Being one of the two students who were younger than everyone who already had a degree or a diploma was at first intimidating, but then I realized I could be on par with my colleagues older than me. I thought of it as skipping a grade of school and feeling really good about it.

10. What kind of skills did you learn that you don't think you would have learned without doing the collaborative program?
a.    Practicality: Learning How instead of Why.
b.    Critical Thinking.
c.    Applying relevant solutions to client problems.
d.    Actual communication skills: How to communicate with clients.
e.    Building and maintaining relationships in the field.
f.     How to present yourself professionally.
g.   How to work effectively in groups (You’ll have lots of fun second semester and your Agency Teams)
h.    How to manage a team effectively- I was Account Supervisor for my team.
11. Overall, was your experience positive or negative?
a.    Positive. I made great friends and gained valuable experience which would have been difficult to find myself.
b.    Allows you to reflect. The general Communication Studies, Bachelor of Arts provides you with a lot of knowledge which is extremely relevant and useful; The PR program allows you to apply that knowledge with new skills to something you want to do for the rest of your life.

Julie has made it quite clear that doing a collaborative program--PR specifically--is both beneficial to yourself and your future. It is my hope that my experience remains as positive as it has been thus far and that perhaps other students will become aware and reach out to this opportunity!

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