By Rayane Yamout
Hawk Communications is a student-led strategic communication firm designed to give members the opportunity to work with real clients and gain hands-on experience. Students this fall were given the chance to work with internal departments/programs from Montclair State, area businesses, and nonprofits. The overall goal of this course is to develop students with critical thinking skills, and valuable insight/experiences of the potential jobs and situations that may arise in future endeavors.
I had the ongoing privilege to continue my work with the New Jersey (NJ) Warriors – a nonprofit, volunteer-run program, affiliated with the NJ Devils and USA Hockey, created to give our disabled US Military Veterans an opportunity to rehab through the exciting world of ice hockey. Along with The NJ Warriors, I collaborated and teamed up with internal departments from the School of Communication and Media (SCM) and aid in various projects. In the weeks leading to the presidential elections, a “Focus: Democracy” student-run election coverage team was formed to educate first-time and returning voters about the importance of partaking in your civic duty.
Working alongside a team is rewarding, but working with a team during an ongoing pandemic can be difficult. With the support and guidance of Professor Keith Green, he established an open and communicative environment where all students were encouraged to share concerns, comments, and updates on clients. The key to managing and understanding any client is trust. It was very important as a team and as young professionals to follow through on what we had promised to accomplish. Through the help of an account lead and Google Suites, members were able to divide the work evenly to ensure all deadlines were met in a timely manner. Both clients were receptive to the concept of change and were interested in learning more about suggestions any member had. Through the hard work and determination of the NJ Warriors team, our successful media pitching resulted in story coverages on CBS, Sported Illustrated (SI) and BoldTV.
As the semester progressed and continued to be unpredictable, I began to notice that I was enhancing my problem solving and crisis communications skills. On the morning of the election night coverage, students, faculty, and staff received the unfortunate news that the entire production event would need to be rescheduled due to a COVID-19 case. Saddened by the outcome, we communicated and converted to plan b. We managed to reproduce and release content remotely through our social channels. I remember feeling proud to have been able to stay calm and professional during the duration of the many calls, texts, and emails. I understood that this was out of my control and comfort zone, but how I would go about learning from this experience was going to make me stronger when situations like this one arise in the future.
This course has greatly enhanced my ability to work diligently with any team. I now feel confident and comfortable with graduating, as I know Montclair State and Hawk Communications has provided me with all the essential skills and requirements that will make me an exceptional candidate for any job or endeavor I might experience.