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Statehouse trip provides inside look at communication careers

Campus Life Nov 29, 2022
A group of people stand on the steps outside the Indiana Statehouse
A group of people stand on the steps outside the Indiana Statehouse

KOKOMO, Ind. — What can you do with a degree in communication?

Indiana University Kokomo students experienced a few possibilities, spending a day at the Indiana Statehouse and the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in downtown Indianapolis.

“It was a great chance to see my major actually played out in the workplace, and to see if I could picture myself in one of those professions,” said sophomore Blair Phillips, Muncie. “I’m glad to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Erin Doss, associate professor of communication arts, said they met with recent college graduates in both locations, including IU Kokomo alumnus Braden Dunlap, who graduated in 2020 and is currently a press secretary for the Indiana House of Representatives Republican caucus. 

“One of my main goals was for students to understand the variety of careers in communication,” Doss said. “It was interesting for them to hear from these young professionals about their education and the careers they were able to start so soon after graduation. It shows the value of a communication degree, and that you are learning skills that are highly employable.”

Freshman Lily Spahr appreciated being able to ask Dunlap questions and learn more about how IU Kokomo prepared him for his career.

“He was very professional and informative about his job,” she said. “He talked about the kinds of opportunities we can have as students here, like working for the campus newspaper.”

As a potential future social studies teacher, Spahr noted that State Rep. Mike Karickhoff, Kokomo, joined them to talk about opportunities to serve in an elected office.

“As someone who is eventually going to teach history, I found that interesting,” the Dayton, Ohio resident said. “It was nice to get an insider’s perspective on what our politicians do.”

Freshman Olivia Newcom, Brookston, liked the realistic look at what it’s like to work at the statehouse.

“Braden writes a lot of press releases and sets appointments for journalists to speak with the representatives he works with,” she said. “The hours could be 7 a.m. to midnight when they are in session, and he may not get a chance to leave during that time.”

She’s interested in law school, and asked questions about possible statehouse jobs in that career.

At the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, which champions the literary, artistic, and cultural contributions of author, artist, and Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the group met two public relations staffers to learn about their roles.

“It was neat seeing that, since we’re communication students,” Newcom said, adding that she was impressed they had just graduated in May. “Both of them were right out of college, and basically working in their dream jobs.”

Sophomore Romon Oglesby noted that all the professionals they met with talked about how internships and volunteer service helped them as they began their careers.

Doss appreciated that students heard about the value of these experiences from people other than their faculty.

“They talked about how these types of opportunities led to their jobs,” she said. “They learned about what kinds of activities they need to be doing to get the kinds of jobs they might be interested in. Hearing from someone who had a good internship that turned into a job is helpful.”

The trip was offered as part of the Kokomo Experience and You (KEY), the campus’s distinctive experiential learning program. The program’s goal is for students to have a travel experience within their major, to connect them with people, and provide real-world experiences.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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