Journalism Faculty Dinner
Last week, Ryerson Residence partnered with the School of Journalism to host our first faculty dinner with first-year Journalism students living in residence. We had the pleasure to welcome Professors Kamal Al-Solaylee and Anne McNeilly to Pitman Hall to connect with our students, discuss their experience with the Journalism program, and share what opportunities are available to students and graduates of the program. Professor McNeilly was nominated by first-year residents last spring in our “Prof Who Made A Mark” survey, for the impact she made through her teaching and guidance.
Huge thanks is owed to Cole Deakin, the Academic Link for residence students in Journalism and Professional Communication, for coordinating the event. We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate further with the School of Journalism and welcome more faculty to come to Residence to connect with our students.
The following article was written by Sarah Beach, a first-year Journalism student, reflecting on what she learned from the event.
On Wednesday, Jan. 22, first-year journalism students got a first-hand opportunity to learn more about what’s involved in the life of a journalism student. The Journalism Faculty Dinner was offered in particular to journalism students living in Ryerson Residence. It was led by the Academic Link for Journalism and Professional Communication, Cole Deakin.
The dinner featured Journalism faculty members Kamal Al-Solaylee, who is the undergraduate program director, as well as Assistant Professor Anne McNeilly. They began their discussion by asking the group of 20-25 students what journalism stream they were interested in, positive aspects of the program and negative issues they’ve experienced as well. After hearing each of the attendees’ personal takes on the program, they explained what to expect in their coming years in the program, including details regarding exchange, course options, and internship restrictions.
On the subject of job and internship availability, Anne McNeilly explained, “I had a brief period where I thought ‘what’s happening to newspapers’ but now I’m totally optimistic. News is always going to be here, it’s just morphing into something…I think the demand for people who know how to put stories together and use the technology and find the stories through all the information, is just going to grow.”
Once the topic of paid and unpaid internships came up, a conflicted opinion arose between Al-Solaylee and McNeilly. McNeilly said, “Students shouldn’t do internships for free. The fact is that what we do, you can’t pull someone off the streets and put them in a chair. It requires a lot of learning and skill.” In reply to her statement, Al-Solaylee said, “I’ll have to disagree with you. Working somewhere for two days a week, an unpaid internship with a reputable publication earlier in the program, is not a bad idea to accumulate some bylines in a publication.”
When asked how she thought the event was, first-year journalism student Brianne Spiker said, “It was very informative. I learned a lot about the internships and exchanges. They covered a lot in the time given. I think it came at the right time in the year, so it eased us into the program so we could see what the program was all about before they got to the more serious aspects of it.”
Deakin stated that, “the purpose of the program was to connect the students with the faculty, in a way that is not so intimidating for them. A lot of times when one thinks of a professor, it’s a little bit harder to communicate with them, so this gave students a chance to get to know them a little better. It was very successful, with a great turnout!”
As I questioned the professors on my big-city dreams of working in a New York City print-based internship, I was expecting to be shot-down, if not told it’s all a simple delusion. To my surprise, I was greeted with the obstacles of cross-border visas and independent internship searches; but still with the possibility of it all still very much alive. Thanks to the efforts of Deakin, the professors with which we were acquainted left many of us, especially me, feeling much more positive, realizing our goals are much more obtainable than we had anticipated.