By Mireya Martinez
Communication professionals shared the knowledge and bits of wisdom they’ve gained in the trenches with Cal Poly Pomona students at COM Day.
COM Day is an event completely produced by students in the Special Events Planning course, offered through the communication department and taught by Professor Vinita Dhingra. The event brought in speakers working in different sectors related to the communication field. This year, the 32-student class had eight weeks to come up with and plan an event.
“For the students who are planning the event it is a really valuable experience because it exactly exemplifies what the Cal Poly Pomona motto is,” said Dhingra. “The students learn to be responsible, meet deadlines and recognize the fact that they have to deliver.
“For the students that are attending the event, they get lots of networking opportunities. There are students that have gotten internships as a result. And of course, there is the take away from all of the professionals that come to share their wealth of knowledge.”
The all-day event on Thursday featured over 20 speakers and panelists that discussed a range of topics from storytelling to personal branding, vlogging to blogging and entrepreneurship to design.
Students who attended the event also had the opportunity to get resume advising and professional headshots. University President Soraya Coley also delivered remarks at the end of the event.
The theme of the event revolved around the phrase “Your One-Way Ticket to Success.”
“Our whole goal was to get people from different majors interested, so we took that into account when we were selecting the different speakers and just making people aware that communication is everywhere and it’s in every aspect of every job,” said Andrew Gin, the event’s co-chair and a fourth-year public relations student.
Some of the brands and companies the speakers work with include “Good Day LA,” Activision, the Vans Warped Tour, Southern California Edison, Edelman Public Relations, Disney University, PopSugar, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and Live Nation.
“We just had some really cool speakers,” said Bonnie Paresa, a fifth-year journalism student who also served as co-chair for the event. “To have everyone come and share their expertise with the students meant a lot to us, because they did it on their own time and they are all very busy professionals.”
The event had 400 students pre-register, and more students were welcomed as drop-ins.
“There is only so much teachers can tell you and then you are just studying it, but this is a day to actually meet people in the industry see if this is for you,” said Agnes Musee, a third-year journalism student who attended the event.
The concepts that were echoed by most speakers were the importance of attitude, networking, goal-setting and authenticity.
“Attitude is everything ” approach situations with a positive outcome and that is most likely what will result,” said Scott Boczek, who works as a Disney University facilitator and director of fundraising for a high school.
The keynote speaker for the event was Michelle Pulfrey, a producer for the morning show “Good Day LA.” She talked about her experiences coming out of college and encouraged students to choose their internships wisely and take them seriously.
You are one of your most valuable assets,” said Pulfrey.
For the speakers, the event provided an opportunity to give back and talk about subjects they are passionate about.
“It was such an exciting opportunity,” said Jessica Airey, who works at Edelman Public Relations. “I really wanted to come here because it wasn’t too long ago that I was a student myself, and personal branding is such an interesting topic.
“I wanted to give some clarity on that and on how personal branding could be such an important part of your career path.”
For alumnus Robert Taylor, a public relations manager for Activision, participating as a panelist was important because he wanted to make himself available to students. He also believes this type of event helps manage expectations.
“I wanted to give students just a blunt force of it’s not rainbows and cookies out there,” said Taylor. “It’s hard work, it’s great work, but you better prepare yourself. Post Cal Poly life moves fast. If you don’t stop and smell the roses, life is going to pass you by.”
Panelist Claire Ayoub, a blogger for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, comedy writer, director, producer and actor, likes speaking to college students because they have not encountered too many “Nos.”
“You do not need permission to create,” said Ayoub during the panel.
Her advice to students is to keep a passion project: “especially when you first get out of school because it is very up and down, topsy-turvy and confusing, but if you have something that is very close to your heartbeat that you really like doing, no matter what you are going through, it’ll be okay,” said Ayoub.
Todd Pruyn, who graduated from CPP in 2003, works for Activision as its director of art services and gave a lecture on design.
COM Day for him was a good opportunity to help students understand what options they have after graduation.
“When I was a student here, I would have loved to go and visit other alumni and see them in their natural habitats and understand better what I was getting myself into,” said Pruyn.
His advice to students is that they remain grateful.
“Happy people have one thing in common, and that is that they’re thankful for where they are and where they come from,” said Pruyn.
“Always try to find opportunities in the things that go wrong.”
Brittney Fleshman / The Poly Post
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