In this issue of Converging News:
- Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Stark
- A Disney Connection
- Minute to Mentor: Know the Basics
- A Faculty Member Comes Home
Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Stark
video by Ben Jarvis and Blake Silverthorn
A Disney Connection
by Lauren Glover, photo courtesy Megan Burns
A former Disney College Program intern, Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication alumna Megan Burns was a newly minted advertising graduate and needed a job. With a connection and a call, Burns got her wish.
As an account executive for Susan Jacobs Inc., an advertising and public relations firm in Dallas, Burns now handles any Disney theatrical and home entertainment movie releases and events held in Dallas.
"It's so much fun," Burns said. "I love Disney. I was sold when they said I got to work on Disney movies and go see them all the time. I was like sign me up."
Burns organizes advance screenings for the press and word-of-mouth groups to get the right type of people talking about the film.
Also, Burns coordinates promotional events with area institutions like the Rangers or Mavericks. For example, Burns coordinated an appearance of the horse Silver from "The Lone Ranger" at a Texas Rangers game for photographs with kids.
"From looking at hotels to what they are going to have for dinner, we plan publicity tours specifically in the Dallas and Oklahoma City areas," Burns said.
Burns said a perk of her job is getting into Disney movies for free and attending events in Dallas with influential people.
"When I'll plan a publicity tour for talent that comes to Dallas, I'll get to have dinner with them and go to all of their events and basically be their handler," Burns said.
Assistant professor of advertising Rebecca Ortiz, Ph.D., taught Burns in an Account Planning class and the college's study abroad trip to London. Ortiz said she had a feeling about Burns from the start.
"She was one of those students that you knew was going to make it and that she was going to land on her feet wherever she went," Ortiz said.
Burns said getting her job involved networking and staying in touch with former employers.
Ortiz also stressed the importance of networking but acknowledges the activity can be intimidating.
"That is the scariest thing for a 20- or 21-year-old," Ortiz said. "I'm way more comfortable with that now because I've done it a couple of times, but I remember what that is like."
Ortiz suggested that students find a couple of people in the industry who do what they want to do. She tells students to reach out to them with email requests to have coffee and talk about their jobs.
"People in advertising and PR are all a little ego-driven," Ortiz said. "When you tell somebody that you are interested in what they do and you think what they do is fabulous, most of the time they are going to want to help you out.
"So, it may seem scary to reach out to someone you've never met, but it really can pay off."
Burns stressed that students should take advantage of all help the college and the university have to offer, for example Career Days.
"I was preached it all during my senior year, and I did not take advantage of it," Burns said. "I would have had a lot more opportunities if I had done that.
"That's how you get a job, it's who you know."
Minute to Mentor: Know the Basics
video by Ben Jarvis and Blake Silverthorn
A Faculty Member Comes Home
by Lauren Glover, photo by David Vaughn
When Justin Keene, Ph.D., left Texas Tech University after earning an undergraduate degree and a master's degree from the College of Media & Communication, he did not expect to be back as a faculty member four years later.
"If you ever told me four years ago I would be back as faculty, I would have told you you're crazy," Keene said. "The number of things that have to line up in the world for this to occur are way more than we could describe in this hour."
As Keene was entering his third year of doctoral study at Indiana University, he began looking for academic jobs. Keene received an email from one of his friends telling him about a job opening at Texas Tech and asking if he was planning on applying.
"I said yes, but they are never going to hire me," Keene said. "They know me."
Despite his misgivings, Keene got a phone interview and later an on-campus interview with college administrators. When Keene returned to Indiana, a job offer awaited him.
Justin Keene with one of his photography students
Keene immediately accepted.
"Dean Hudson emailed me later that day and said it was the swiftest job acceptance he's ever had," Keene said.
Keene said Media & Communication Assistant Professor Glenn Cummins, Ph.D., influenced his decision to pursue a doctoral degree.
"I started grad school the same time he started teaching at Tech, so we had a really neat relationship where he was willing and had the time to take me under his wing," Keene said. "He really showed me a lot of things and taught me things most graduate students don't have time to learn when they are master's students and publish articles with him."
Cummins said Keene approached him about an idea for research after Cummins gave a lecture in a graduate class.
"The mere fact that he had the enthusiasm and the interest in conducting research and not merely taking a class and getting a grade and doing the usual tests and papers spoke volumes about his intellectual curiosity," Cummins said. "Making that effort is really a testament to the type of person he is and what piques his interest intellectually."
Keene said the college's lab space and equal focus on undergraduate education and research was also a major contributing factor in his decision to return to Lubbock.
"One of the excellent things about the opportunities here is that I'm rewarded for my research, and I'm given the ability to do my research at a really high level," Keene said. "But I'm also rewarded for being innovative with my teaching and encouraged to be innovative with my teaching. You have to have both here, and I like that."
Cummins said Keene's enthusiasm always has impressed him.
"He brings that enthusiasm to the research setting, but he really brings that enthusiasm to the classroom setting," Cummins said. "So, when I see him teaching in front of a bunch of undergrads, he loves the material, and he loves the subject matter."
Keene said he feels lucky and blessed to be back at Texas Tech.
"I love my job," Keene said. "I love getting up in the morning and getting to come to Texas Tech, and that they pay me to do what I love to do."