This story is featured in the Spring 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU students enter the workforce with the experience and life skills need to exceed industry standards.
On the first day of her practicum, Holly Llewellyn discovered she’d joined a public relations agency.
“It’s up to all of you whether this firm succeeds or fails,” Professor John Mims told her and her peers that day.
And it was. Through the next few months, Llewellyn and 40 other students, some in the practicum and some dedicating their time to the agency outside of class, ran a real-world operation by creating campaigns, graphics and messaging for nonprofit organizations and businesses in the city of High Point.
And Llewellyn rose to the rank of agency director.
Llewllyn, a senior from Glenview, Illinois, majoring in strategic communication with a minor in marketing, was drawn to the agency because she wanted to use her skills in a real-world scenario. The agency allowed her to work directly with clients — an experience she’d never been exposed to.
“It has been a unique and eye-opening journey for me,” she says. “Running an agency is not an easy task, but I am glad to have had the chance. Whether we, as an agency, failed or succeeded was up to us. This gave me and my peers the opportunity to put everything we have learned so far to use.”
Mims is a public relations and marketing professional with 20 years of experience. He designed the course to support the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication’s public relations agency, Ascension 336. The student-run agency utilizes the creative minds of High Point University students to produce innovative advertising campaigns for a wide range of businesses, nonprofit organizations and groups within the city. The practicum course focuses on supervised, practical application of PR tactics within the agency.
Mims has advised Ascension 336 since the agency’s inception in the fall of 2016. The agency was established by Mims’ 20-person practicum class, but quickly grew to include additional students who “interned” for the agency. Now, with expanded practicum classes, the agency is comprised of 40 working members.
And this year, the growth continued. The agency expanded in student involvement, the client list increased and
most importantly, students further grew themselves into industry leaders.
“I’ve always had my sights set on working for established brands, but this has proven to be an exciting challenge,” says Llewellyn. “Ascension 336 is unique in the sense that there is an ‘anything is possible’ attitude. Ideas come to life in this supportive environment and students are able to bring their skills to the next level.”
As for Mims — he’s become a mentor for Llewellyn.
“He helped me to realize that my experience could be impactful if I put in the work,” says Llewellyn. “Encouraging me to think beyond the classroom
is one of the biggest ways that Professor Mims has prepared me for my future career. I have learned that I must think for myself in order reach my full potential.”
To Llewellyn, leading the agency is just one of the many ways Mims demonstrates his unique teaching methods.
“His teaching style is distinctive because instead of telling us exactly what to do when we are unsure, he encourages us to think for ourselves and figure it out on our own,” says Llewellyn. “There’s a lot of room for completing an assignment in the way that we think it should be done.”
And while Llewellyn looks to Mims for advisement, mentorship isn’t difficult to find in other areas of the School of Communication.
A Mentor in Media
In November 2017, Logan Carter launched his sports talk show, “Game of Inches,” from inside the School of Communication’s newly renovated TV studio.
Carter, a sophomore, knew two things when he came to HPU. He loved sports and he wanted a career in communication.
HPU’s sports communication major answered his call.
“Sports communication degrees aren’t offered at many schools,” says Carter. “That immediately set HPU apart.”
Then came the TV studio.
“When I toured HPU, there were other schools I’d been considering,” Carter says. “But, when I saw the studio, I knew that HPU provides the opportunity — you just have to take it. If you’ll follow through and commit, HPU will help you make it happen.”
After beginning a sports podcast in March of his freshman year, Carter decided that his show had potential to be bigger. It was made for TV.
Joe Michaels, HPU Broadcaster in Residence in the School of Communication, agreed with Carter and set out to help.
Beyond his time spent in the classroom, Michaels met with Carter during the pair’s free time to plan for a sports broadcast show.
“He leaves the stories and all of the legwork up to the students,” Carter says about Michaels. “He’s all about making sure it’s our show from start to finish. But, he’s always there to give advice and guidance when we ask.”
The show has grown to be different from any sports program that came before it at HPU. Carter wanted to expand his coverage beyond campus and has done so by inviting guest across North Carolina to campus.
“I’ve had to push myself far beyond my comfort zone in an effort to make this show a success,” says Carter. “Reaching out to college and high school sports coaches can be intimidating, but it’s necessary to keep the show going, and it’s created a new confidence in me, plus a strong network of connections that I’m sure I’ll call on in the future.”
Carter says that after airing the first show, it quickly accumulated 21,000 views on the “Game of Inches” YouTube channel. And, he credits his team.
Carter is a member of the Media Fellows in the School of Communication, a program that invites select incoming freshmen to take part in real-world projects in a client/agency model, work together to develop unique research and travel domestically and internationally to examine trends in the media industry.
Having already formed close bonds with his Media Fellows, Carter leaned on them for support in creating his show.
“Media Fellows gave me the opportunity to meet and form bonds with students who are really dedicated to their craft,” says Carter. “In order to make any venture successful, I’ve learned that you have to surround yourself with people who are just as committed to your goal as you are. They have to take pride in wanting it on their resume, and that ultimately makes it a success.”
And while Carter’s show focuses primarily on broadcast strategy under the guidance of Michaels, Carter says he’s uncovered a new passion throughout the process.
“I thought I wanted to be in sports broadcasting,” he says. “And while I love my show, what I’ve really learned throughout this process is that I love managing and leading a communication team. I know that’s a skill that will transfer to any career I choose to pursue, and I’m forever grateful that I had this opportunity within the HPU School of Communication.”
View this story and more in the Spring 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine: