By: Mollie Lastovica
The Texas Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention and Trade Show took place August 8-9 in Austin, Texas. The Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications had solid representation with a mix of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students who attended workshops and networked with industry professionals over the two-day period.
Led by Assistant Professor Billy McKim, Ph.D., agricultural communications and journalism students Suzann Svatek, senior, Amanda Allred, junior, Jordan Symon, junior, Monica Zuniga, sophomore and Bo/David Williford, junior attended the convention. Agricultural Communications and Journalism Adviser Tobin Redwine, along with Graduate Assistant Annie Specht also attended the first day of the TAB Convention.
The meat of the conference included workshops for participants to attend and learn about the newest technologies and methods in the communications industry. The workshops focused on a variety of industry issues from the integration of social media, branding, public relations and media convergence.
“My favorite part of the conference was the variety of sessions we could attend,” Symon says. “I got to sit in on a sports play-by-play session one day and a social media session the next. I learned about all of the different aspects of the broadcast community.”
While most of the students who attended have goals of working in broadcast upon graduation, the diversity of the educational components of TAB Convention assure that all attendees, regardless of their intent to pursue a broadcast career, will walk away having learned something.
“People think that unless they have an interest in broadcast, TAB is not for them,” McKim says. “There are really opportunities for all people in the ALEC department, regardless of interest or major.”
The trade show included representatives from highly recognizable brands in the communications field and unveiled a number of new innovations for the industry.
“The trade show showcased the newest state of the art software for everything from computer generated graphics to studio lighting,” McKim says.
For students, TAB Convention was an opportunity to meet with company representatives and people who they could call “boss” in the future.
“I got to meet with other individuals who do what I want to do and talk about the industry,” Symon says. “I would encourage other students to take these opportunities because it gives you the chance to expand your knowledge and meet new people, which can only benefit you.”
Like Symon, McKim also stresses the importance of networking opportunities for students.
“The biggest benefit to students is networking. Getting to meet and have interaction with future employers,” McKim says. “They also get to hear what industry professionals want and need and what is going on in the industry.”
Attending events such as the TAB Convention is just as advantageous to faculty members as it is to their student counterparts.
“It reinforces what we are teaching in the classroom,” McKim says. “I can also go to conferences like TAB and make sure that I am teaching and using the most up to date stuff in my classes.”
That out-of-the-classroom learning experience also had an impact students as it allowed them to explore a variety of career options in communications.
“At the conference, I got to actually experience broadcasting,” Symon says. “It definitely helped me focus on what I want to do.”