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Jordan Smith, left, worked for CBS News during the Republican
National Convention.

USF students obtain once-in-a-lifetime work experience at RNC

TAMPA, Fla. -- From planning concerts and events to working with “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” University of South Florida mass communications students gained hands-on experience at the Republican Convention in August.

Nicole Swickle, a public relations major at USF, said she worked along side Elan Event Studio planning corporate events and outings for the RNC, such as a concert for the Republican Governor's Association featuring the country band, Montgomery Gentry and the YG Women Up! Network to create a women's pavilion in the heart of Channelside.

Swickle said her studies at USF prepared her to be a success at such a high-profile event.

“As a public relations major and leadership minor, I couldn't have been better prepared for the RNC,” she said. “Both studies involve being open-minded, attentive and hard working. I love what I do and I'm ready to do more of it!”

USF students were not only lucky enough to witness history being made, but to gain excellent work experience and an impressive résumé addition.

“I gained exposure to a big moment in our Tampa community,” Swickle said. “Whether you are interested in politics or not, the energy and excitement in our own backyard made you feel like you were part of history.”

Another mass communications student at USF, Jordan Smith, said she most likely would not have worked the job she did if she had not been a student at USF. That’s because the faculty at the College of Arts and Sciences worked with TV networks’ human resources departments to recruit mass communications students for the event.

“I gained a lot of knowledge on network TV operations and convention procedures,” said Smith, who worked with CBS. “The experience I had was unique and irreplaceable. I've always been interested in politics and have had a deep respect for journalism, so working at a convention was a great combination of the two.”

Studying broadcast news at USF, Dominique Benjamin worked with PBS NewsHour as a runner, ensuring the filming and production went smoothly during the important event. He said he was able to network with and gain insight from industry professionals while at the convention, benefiting from the hands-on experience and unique surroundings.

“The highlight of that week was when I got the chance to be on the convention floor while the vice president candidate, Paul Ryan, delivered his speech,” Benjamin said. “I also got to escort people around the convention venue, including NewsHour's political analyst, Mark Shields, who was very friendly and spent some time talking to me about all the different political conventions he had been to.”

With the help from the knowledgeable professors at USF, Benjamin said he earned valued experience and encountered some famous politicians and media personnel.

“Many of my professors have worked in the television industry, so they were able to give me some pointers,” he said. “Specifically, my broadcast news professor, Travis Bell, gave me some valuable networking advice that I was able to use during that week.”

Valerie Rooks-Bernard, a broadcast major minoring in political science, worked with “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” Working behind the scenes and running errands, Rooks-Bernard said she ensured that the show went smoothly and made some great contacts.

“USF enabled me to gain internships and experience that I could put on my résumé,” she said. “Without that, I would never have been chosen.”

It is not often that such an important and historical event such as the Republican National Convention comes to town. The faculty at the University of South Florida took advantage of the event on students’ behalf, and the curriculum and staff continues to create opportunities and provide unique experiences for students.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Mass Communications Student Success   
Author: Sarah Martin