Student worker Anne Claire Foreman, a valued member of ITS Communications’ small team, leaves ITS next week for an internship with a Raleigh public relations firm. Foreman, who will graduate in May 2021 from the Hussman School of Journalism & Media, shares her experience working at ITS in this first-person piece.
In May 2019, I was one of five students hired by the ITS Communications group as a summer worker. After working from May through July, I left to study abroad in Australia for the fall semester. When I returned in January, I was welcomed back to ITS with open arms. I was fortunate to be able to continue working for ITS throughout the summer and fall, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over my collective 15 months working at ITS, I have learned so much about the Carolina community and the vital role that communications play in University operations. While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many disruptions, the atmosphere of innovation at ITS remains steadfast. My employment with ITS directly aligns with several pillars of the University’s Carolina Next strategic plan, which I outline in detail below.
Build our community together
When I first started at ITS, I clung to my small community of student workers. Slowly, I built relationships with the people I interviewed, took headshots of and bumped into grabbing coffee in the break room. I soon found that people within the ITS community encourage each other to thrive, and are eager to accept others into this community.
While the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the ability to meet in person, my boss and IT Communications Specialist Kelly Johnson continued to foster community. Johnson arranged weekly check-in meetings over Zoom and invited me to attend the monthly virtual ITS Communications Liaisons meetings. These meetings, full of ITS employees who work closely on communications efforts, helped me gain a bigger picture understanding ITS’ communications goals and maintained a community of passionate individuals working towards common goals during the pandemic.
Strengthen student success
Johnson always kept the facilitation of experiential and collaborative learning at the forefront of the student employment experience. She frequently asked me what areas I wanted to learn more about or strengthen my skills in, and, consequently, my employment directly supplemented my courses in the Hussman School of Journalism & Media.
By writing for ITS News, the Monday Morning News employee newsletter and the quarterly review, I strengthened my writing and reporting skills. Additionally, I learned how to use software and tools, like social media analytics platform AgoraPulse, that were discussed in my classes. Additionally, I learned about the importance of inclusive and accessible digital communications from working with the Digital Accessibility Office. Digital accessibility has been an increasingly important component of many media classes.
One of the most influential parts of my employment at ITS was the presence of unwavering, strong female leadership. Kelly Johnson, Kate Hash, Thao Nghi Tu and Kim Vassiliadis (and many more!) inspired me every day with their intelligence, compassion and powerful communication in the workplace. The standard of excellence that these women maintain in a male-dominated field shows female students that there is a place for them in every field and profession.
Enable career development
One of the most remarkable things about working at ITS was the meaningful work I was assigned. While it was nerve-wracking at first, the confidence of my superiors in my ability to produce professional-level work enabled me to flourish and rise to this standard.
I walk away from ITS not only with fond memories and incredible former co-workers but with a portfolio full of writing and design samples to show for it.
When I first came to ITS, I had an interest in technology but also found it daunting. Johnson taught me that as a reporter, you must have the confidence to direct the show and be empowered to ask the questions that you want to be answered. Now, I walk away from ITS with confidence that I can write and report on any subject.
My time working as a communications and content worker at ITS fed my intellectual curiosity and challenged me to grow, and equipped me with meaningful skills that will be beneficial in the professional world. Despite the pandemic, support from the ITS community aided in my seamless transition to remote work, and enabled me to continue strengthening my successes.