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Giving Back While Gaining Credit

In the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at K-State, opportunities abound for students to get real-world work experience while giving back to the community.

Through partnering with local businesses, K-State offers courses where students work directly with clients in the local community.

Unlike traditional classes where the assignments are practice and revolve around fictional scenarios, in these courses, students work with real businesses, organizations and nonprofits to benefit their communications departments.

Alec Tefertiller, assistant professor of strategic communication and advertising, teaches the college’s capstone class, Strategic Communication Campaigns. In this course, students collaborate with a local business and help them develop a marketing campaign plan. After conducting research, they produce a pitch as if they were working for a strategic communications agency wishing to earn the client’s business.

Tefertiller said this is great opportunity for students to receive feedback on their work from not just K-State, but from real clients.

“This is a unique opportunity for students to work directly with a client and to get experience before they go out into the world,” Tefertiller said. “I think it’s also good for the local community, helping to strengthen businesses and organizations. It’s a chance for us to give back.”

Tefertiller shared that as a land-grant mission, K-State has the mission to give back and to be a resource for the community. He said that he thinks this is a way that they can help speak to the need that people have in the community with their communications, while also building relationships.

Throughout the years that courses like these have been offered, K-State students have interfaced with numerous businesses, organizations and nonprofits from Manhattan and surrounding cities, including the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Aggieville Business Association, the United Way of the Konza, MHK Music Network and more.

MHK Music Network, also known as MHK Music Scene and MidFest, is a local service organization that links people of the arts and their supporters throughout the central states with one another, by providing tools and resources to improve their professionalism, creativity and well-being. For the last four years, this organization has worked with students, offering internships for which students can earn K-State credit.

MHK Music Network’s Executive Director, O. Eric Martin, said these internships can allow students to get involved with the community and become connected with mentors who are experts in their field of study, while also expanding their creativity.

“We release creative control to the interns,” Martin said. “We feel that this allows, encourages and inspires the interns to be creative in their own right without any hinderance. When they come back to us with what they’ve created it’s always astonishing. There has never been a project by an intern that we haven’t been pleased with.”

Olivia Johnston, a sophomore in mass communications and journalism at K-State, is currently working as a photography and videography journalism intern for MHK Music Network. Through this opportunity, Johnston said that she has been able to gain experience and exposure working with musical artists — a dream she plans on pursing in her future career as a manager or public relations professional for artists.

Since starting with MHK Music Network in September 2019, Johnston has been able to work with a variety of artists including Dreamville rapper, Lute.

“We got to work with him, his band and the openers [for the concert] on such a personal setting,” Johnston said. “It was very one-on-one. I love that they give us that opportunity.”

Johnston said that she would recommend this opportunity to other K-State students because it is a great opportunity to gain experience right here in Manhattan. “For many opportunities like this you would have to go to Kansas City, or even Nashville,” Johnston said. “It’s cool that we have something this cool that is local and with just as many opportunities.”

According to Tefertiller, there are many opportunities at K-State to gain class credit and real-world experience while giving back to the Manhattan community. He said that students can find out about these options through attending the meetings of the student organizations, Ad Club or Public Relations Student Society of America — to which anyone is welcome to come. Students can also reach out to their advisors or professors to learn more.

“Come talk to us and learn more about the majors,” Tefertiller said. “If it sounds interesting to you, working with clients to solve communications challenges, that’s what we do. We’d love to have you on board. Come see us.”

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