A Graduate Program That’s Worth Every Penny

The following is a guest post by Communications@Syracuse student Jacqueline Parke.

When I received my acceptance letter from The Newhouse School, I was thrilled and nervous. Being an entrepreneur and in the workforce for more than 30 years, I thought, “I hope I’m challenged and learn some great things.” I had attended other schools and the experiences weren’t always challenging, which left me bored and discouraged. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from Syracuse. 

When I started in January and attended my first course, Introduction to Digital Communications, boy was I surprised! 

I realized that I was definitely “old school” and out of touch in my way of thinking about how communications is currently done. I learned new terms like “digital convergence” and “second screen.”

I was forced to think and analyze new and future trends.

I learned how to write a script, and direct, film and edit my own public service announcement. My classes challenged me, and I was forced to function outside my comfort zone. 

As part of the program, we are required to attend two immersion weekends. I just attended my first one in New York City in April. The theme was Media Entrepreneurship. I arrived Friday morning and met my classmates—everyone looked so much younger in person. I then met some of my professors, including Dean Lorraine Branham and Associate Dean Joel Kaplan. 

That Friday I had the pleasure of going to Edelman PR. We heard from Chief Content Strategist Steve Rubel and his team. They gave us an informative presentation about “Collaborative Journalism.” It was amazing to see the worlds of journalism, PR and advertising merge in such a powerful multimedia platform.

On Saturday we broke into groups to work on a case study about BuzzFeed. The main question we had to address was how a company with so many imitators can maintain its competitive advantage in the long run. We then had to outline a solution and implementation plan using the business model canvas and a 10-slide PowerPoint. My group really came together as a team and developed some solid and creative ideas. We ended up brainstorming and scribbling down our ideas right on a cardboard box. Napkins are so overrated!

On Sunday we presented our ideas to our class and to BuzzFeed VP Matt Trotta, who asked us some very challenging questions.

I left that Sunday afternoon feeling inspired, educated and motivated. For the first time in my life I thought, “Wow, I’m being challenged, and this program is worth every penny.”