No Better Place to Be than in Nashville, Tennessee

No Better Place to Be than in Nashville, Tennessee

I spent my fall break in Nashville connecting with professionals in the media industry and couldn't have asked for a better trip!

Ashley Cunigan

The typical college student wouldn't choose to spend their fall break in business meetings. Many would rather love to take a trip home to visit family or go on a road trip with friends. That wasn't the case for me. Knowing that I needed to research more about my future career and what goals I had in place with my major, I sought out opportunities to grow. Thankfully, I met some academic advisors with some great resources that led me to apply for an industry immersion trip. Industry Immersion is a professional development program hosted by C&IS at The University of Alabama. The program serves to strengthen relationships between students, alumni, and industry professionals.

The communications industry has drastically changed over the years. As social media is continuing to grow, businesses are looking to hire people that are skilled in a variety of different areas. I am particularly interested in digital content marketing and how public relations fits into driving results for clients. Nashville has always held a special place in my heart, and I am looking at different positions in the job market that would allow me to live there one day.

At first, I was a little apprehensive about applying to the program. Industry immersion is a big financial investment, and I knew that the two-day trip was going to be exhausting. I was going to have to give up my fall break for professional development and had little time to prepare. Meeting with powerful company executives in my field made me anxious, but the connections I made on the trip made me feel more comfortable about meeting with more leaders in the future.

I was selected as one of twelve students to meet with industry professionals and Alabama alumni for the Nashville trip. Each of us came from different backgrounds, class standings, and different majors. Over the span of three days we were given a chance to explore the leading job markets and make connections with those we encountered. I was able to elevate myself personally and professionally and gained a better understanding of who I was as a student to market myself in the public relations field.

Industry immersion allows students to gain first-hand knowledge of company cultures and build long-term relationships leading to internships and post-graduate opportunities. What I enjoyed most about going to Nashville was having the chance to meet with multiple communications firms and corporate leaders within the area. I would have never been able to get my foot in the door to the Nashville Predators or Nissan Headquarters if it weren't for industry immersion. My faculty advisors also set up meetings for us to visit Zehnder Communications, CMT, MP&F Strategic Communications, Provident Music Group, Lewis Communications, among many others.

Going on this trip gave me the tools I needed to become a confident student and media professional. I've always struggled with putting myself in front of others, and this trip pushed me out of my comfort zone. i have always known I wanted to pursue a career in PR and visiting Nashville reconfirmed my thoughts about moving to the city after graduation. Industry immersion brought my dreams to reality and gave me a clearer picture of what I could see myself doing in the future. I not only gained insight on how I can prepare myself for a career in communications but also grew my professional network.

Nevertheless, attending an industry immersion trip is something I would definitely recommend. When I was introduced to the opportunity at the beginning of my freshman year, I immediately knew it was something I needed to follow up on. After I jumped over some financial obstacles, I was able to learn about professional development through campus networking sessions and grew closer with the other participants. Before the trip, we learned about the importance of setting up a LinkedIn profile, revised resumes, and ordered business cards. The industry immersion team so willing to help me out and gave me resources to improve. Since the trip, I've even been able to set up interviews with professionals I met and am looking for available internship opportunities next summer.

I'd like to thank the College of Communication and Information Sciences for this amazing opportunity I've been given. Going on an industry immersion was one of the best decisions I've made and now I can confidently see myself working as a public relations professional in Nashville after I graduate.

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