Communication Alumni Panel

November 8, 2021

On November 8th, the Baylor Communication Department hosted an alumni panel. The panelists virtually visited with over 200 current students to discuss their career paths as well as give advice and answer questions based on their experiences. The alumni represented a variety of industries and professional backgrounds. Our panelists were Jay Netherton (BA ‘13, MA ‘17), Ali Rogers (BA ‘13, MA ‘15), Stuart Thompson (BA ‘99, MA ‘01), Josh Davis (BA ‘15), and Erin Gaddis (BA ‘16).

From the questions submitted from the student audience, many were wondering what advice the panelists had pertaining to internships. Gaddis spoke about her experience interning on the Hill in D.C. with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which she says helped her end up as a Media Relations Specialist with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “[Interning] was actually the opportunity that I had while in college to just get a bunch of different experiences, in a bunch of different industries and sectors to figure out what I was most interested in. I knew that if I had a bunch of experiences, that it would give me an opportunity to show my worth to different employers.”

Thompson, whose current role is Accordion’s Chief People Officer, suggested that students should also not overthink internships. “There could be another experience that’s just as important for you. It could be studying or living abroad or doing something that’s a challenge in the workforce that’s not necessarily an internship… Some of these summers are the only chance you have to get some other experiences. So if you can find something else that’s fun and challenging that stretches you, it may be just as valuable as the best internship.”

Additionally, our panelists offered advice to the graduate students in the audience, or those considering attending graduate school. Rogers, who works as a Marketing and Communications Manager, suggested that “having a master’s degree gives you a leg-up and helps you stand apart from the competition”. She said that her time in graduate school helped her with analytical skills, public speaking, and that writing a thesis prepared her to manage large projects. Netherton, the Senior Director of Executive Communication at Vizient Inc., one of the nation’s largest healthcare consulting firms, believes that to get the most out of the graduate school experience, you should look past just focusing on the letter grade. He suggested that students concentrate on prioritizing feedback from professors and advised that graduate students begin to ask themselves: “How am I taking what I am learning and how can I equip myself to translate that into a professional environment?”

As for advice for students determining what industry to go into and how to succeed, Davis, a Talent Advisor for Charles Schwab, suggested to “ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do it”. He believes if students take this advice, then they are going to enjoy the work they pursue. He also offered that students should take it day-by-day and learn to become okay with failure, since it’s how you grow.

When asked what they found to be the most important advice for entering the workplace, the panelists gave a variety of reflections based on their time in the workforce. Gaddis offered that students should “know how to ask the right questions” while Netherton suggested to “figure out what your value is at that point of your career and know what you bring to the table for that company”. Davis reflected that in his career he’s seen success when he was “eager and willing to volunteer to say ‘yes’ to taking on projects and tasks”. Thompson said that he believes that as the students enter the workforce, they should never stop asking themselves: “What can I do? What can I learn today? What's new? Who's somebody I can learn from? “

We are grateful for our panelists who participated, gave invaluable advice to our current students, and made for a successful event. The Communication Department looks forward to hosting more alumni panels in future semesters!