USC MCM Fall 2018 Webinar: How USC Prepares Students for Today’s Communication Field

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Today’s communication field is rapidly evolving, as new technologies and techniques continue to shape the market. Hear from USC faculty and current student Atif Elkadi about how the USC MCM program is uniquely equipped to prepare students for this new world.

Featuring: 

  • Program Director Neil Teixeira will serve as moderator for the session.
  • Professor Dr. Courtney Pade will dive into a selection of the classes, and describe how USC aligns with the latest trends in the communication industry.
  • Current Student Atif Elkadi will speak to his experience in the program and how it has benefited his career.
  • Enrollment Advisor Gerry Reyes will give a brief program overview and talk about what it means to be a part of the Trojan Network

Transcript

Gerry Reyes:                      Hello, everyone. Welcome, and thank you for joining us today for our live webinar, where we will be discussing how the USC online MCM prepares students for today’s communication field.

You are currently in listen-only mode. Please be sure to refresh your browsers if you run into any issues with audio or video. If you have any questions, please use the Q and A box below. We will be sure to address these at the end of the webinar. Do not hesitate to ask questions here throughout the presentation. A copy of the recording will be available shortly after the webcast concludes.

My name is Gerry Reyes. I’m an enrollment advisor for the online MCM program, and I will be the facilitator of today’s webinar. We have with us Director of Distance Learning Neil Teixeira. He will be providing us with a school and program overview. We’ll be meeting faculty member Dr. Courtney Pade, who will be giving us a deeper look into the program and curriculum. We will also meet Atif Elkadi, who will go over some of his experience from within the program. I will be going over the admissions requirements, and we will close with a Q and A session.

I am now gonna turn it over to our Director of Distance Learning, Neil Teixeira. Neil, thank you for being with us today.

Neil Teixeira:                      Thank you very much, Gerry, and thank you once again to everyone who has taken time out of their busy day to attend our webinar. I’m looking forward to sharing some helpful information about USC, the Annenberg school, and many of the outstanding elements of the online Master of Communication Management, including how you can start an application for our fall semester today.

Again, my name’s Neil Teixeira. I’ve been working in the field of distance learning for almost 20 years, primarily here at USC. I’m also an alumnus of the Annenberg Master’s in Communication Management program, although I completed mine on campus before it was available online. In fact, some of my experiences as an on-campus MCM student helped me build a better online MCM program for all of you.

So I’m very excited. It’s a program that’s very near and dear to my heart, and I’m looking forward to sharing that information with you today.

Let’s start off by talking a little bit about USC and the Annenberg school. USC was founded in 1880, back when LA was a small Western outpost that had only welcomed the arrival of the railroad about four years prior. Since then, USC has grown to become one of the world’s leading private research universities.

USC has regularly enrolled more international students than any other American institution of higher learning and holds research-based education that can be applied to professional practice as a cornerstone of our institution.

In keeping with this, USC has long been a pioneer in distance education, offering master’s-level classes to professional engineers via satellite communication as early as 1972. The USC Annenberg school is proud to continue that pioneering tradition by offering our fully online MCM degree to communication professionals all over the world.

The USC Annenberg School was founded in 1971, through the generosity and leadership of Walter H. Annenberg. You may know him better as the creator of TV Guide, Seventeen magazine, and through his family’s long legacy of supporting public television and the arts.

Today, USC Annenberg is renowned for its innovative approach to communication and teaching and research and serves as an international hub for scholars and professionals in communication, journalism, public policy, media, and education.

The online Master of Communication Management enables the USC Annenberg School to deliver the same high-quality educational experience in our rigorous, engaging, and collaborative way.

Now I’m gonna talk a little bit about accreditation and recognition. USC and the online Master of Communication Management Program have both been reviewed and accredited by WASC, and USC is currently ranked in the top 25 among national universities by US News and World Report.

Additionally, the Wall Street Journal’s comprehensive college rankings placed USC in the 15th spot nationally and third among all Western institutions. Among global institutions, QS World Rankings rated USC Annenberg the number two top institution anywhere for communication and media studies.

Now we’ll turn to the program’s curriculum, faculty, and some of the advantages you’ll have as a USC Annenberg student.

This program has been designed for both early and experienced working professionals. So if you’re early- or mid-career or if you’ve been working in the industry for 25 or more years, this program has something to offer you.

Everyone you’ll be taking classes with will play a role in your learning. You’ll share all your work experiences, you’ll talk about issues that you are currently facing on the job, and you will get as much out of the people you’re going to classes with as you will from your instructors.

The program is done cohort style, which means that you will go through the program with the same group of people over the course of your classes. Typically, each class is divided into sections of no more than 20 people. That doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same 20 people from your cohort all the time, but everyone will have gone through the same core courses that you have gone through.

You can complete this program in less than two years – 16 months, to be exact. This is important, we found, for working professionals, because you have a lot on your plate. You have a lot of responsibilities at work, at home, and taking classes will add considerably to that workload. So we know that it’s really important for you to get through this as quickly as possible. We think that completing the program two classes per term in about 16 months is the best way for you to achieve your goal of earning a master’s degree from USC.

So what does an MCM mean? Well, this is a management degree for communication professionals. We operate from the understanding that communication is at the center of every enterprise that we engage in and that communicators shape and change the world. This degree is offered so that communicators like yourselves feel empowered to lead within your organizations.

This is going to be a rigorous online program and you will feel that you will be able to immediately apply to your professional career. We don’t want you to think that “online” and “easy” are synonymous. We want you to think that online is valuable and rigorous, challenging you to think and expand your perspectives.

We have a state-of-the-art course design and a learning platform integrated with social tools that encourage you to apply professional and personal networking.

Feedback we have received from hundreds of students and graduates has been terrific. They’re really getting what they want out of the program, and that’s what makes us really happy about offering this program to any of you who are interested in applying this fall.

The online learning management system that we use makes connecting with others in your classes and with your professors extremely easy. You’ll have a network of people all around the country and, in some cases, around the world, and you will be able to maintain this network long after you’ve completed your program.

The learning has been phenomenal online, because in the on-campus program, when you come to class for three hours, the class works and moves at a particular pace, and you’re forced to move at that pace. In the online program, you’re actually able to cover far greater material at far greater depths because you are working on it more incrementally.

Of course, you’ll also be working in groups and working with your colleagues in your cohort on a regular basis. We think that’s an extraordinary advantage of our online learning program, because the ability to work in virtual teams is becoming increasingly essential in the modern workplace.

So I just wanna briefly touch on some of the learning and career opportunities by talking about some of the outcomes as well. So it’s … Our priority is to make sure that our students can analyze complex business communication problems, that they can utilize critical thinking skills as they gather and analyze research to improve decision making.

This leads, usually, to really strong outcomes for our graduates. So we had a student who recently got recruited by an alumnus to work at DIRECTV. This is someone that he connected with in his classes. She realized how smart and how talented he was. They really kind of hit it off in their group settings, and she wanted him to apply for a position at DIRECTV.

We also have a classmate who got recruited to work at Ketchum as a digital strategist, and that’s led to many more opportunities for him since that move to Ketchum, one of the world’s leading PR firms.

We had a recent alumnus as well who had, while still in the program, applied to a position at Nike and ended up getting the Global Marketing Communication Director position that she was going for. She told us that her degree from USC Annenberg really stood out during her interviews, and she feels that was one of the strong reasons for her getting the position. She has now parlayed that into a Global Communications Director for Airbnb.

We’ve had students who have taken classwork and they’ve created strategic communication pitches to win PR competitions or even PR business. One of them spun one of their class projects into a small side business.

So these are some of the outcomes that you can see out of the program. It’s a small sample, and Atif will talk a little bit more about how he’s used the program to benefit his career.

Our graduates are optimally positioned for careers in management, consulting, public relations, advertising, training and development, and business and marketing.

Let’s talk about the classes that you’re going to take in the curriculum. The way that the program is set up, students will optimally take two classes per semester. Everybody begins with the core research class, Uses of Communication Research, which is CMGT 540, and the core management theory class, Managing Communication, CMGT 500.

Now, the courses you see listed here are not the courses … the order of the courses you’ll be taking. They’re listed by number. But this is a sample of the courses that your curriculum will be drawn from. These courses have three core focuses: strategic organizational communication, marketing and PR communication, and communication for data-driven decision making.

Again, the foundational course, CMGT 540, which Dr. Pade, who you’ll hear from, teaches quite often, gives you the foundational research capabilities – the ability to understand research that’s been done by others, but also the ways and means which you can use to engage a prospective audience to get data and information through focus groups and surveys and other forms of data collection to analyze that data and help improve your decision making.

Now, this is the kind of stuff that most companies will hire a consultant to do. We’re not saying that you’re definitely going to never need a consultant, but it’s very likely that you’ll be able to know more about what that consultant is doing, you’ll be able to check his or her work, and you’ll have a greater understanding of how to request processes from a consultant, because you’ll have a better understanding of how research is conducted and how you can use research to inform your decision making.

I don’t wanna spend too much time going through every single course. Suffice it to say that our EAs, our enrollment advisors, can tell you a little bit more about these courses. You are free to reach out to myself and other members of our team to find out more about our courses.

But these courses are the ones that we offer online. You may know that there are other courses that are offered on campus. Not every course that we offer on campus is available online, but we do have a selection here that we consider to be the most important, most valuable, and transferable skills that you’ll find as communication professionals.

So let me take a moment to introduce Dr. Courtney Pade. Dr. Pade has been teaching with the online program for several years now. She’s one of our longest serving instructors, and she is also the Assistant Director of the Master of Communication Management program.

So she oversees, as Assistant Director, both the on-campus and online programs. They are equivalent programs, and she has a PhD and an MA in Organizational Communication from USC Annenberg as well as a BA and MA in Media Studies from Stanford University. She’ll talk a little bit more about her research. Dr. Pade.

Courtney Pade:                All right. Thanks, Neil, and hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us, and thank you for that nice introduction, Neil.

So there’s a little bit about me, and, of course, I’m on the website. You can always look more at what I’m doing right now. But I wanted to talk about what I’ve been doing this summer, and I went with a group of professors to New York just a couple weeks ago. We went and visited a bunch of media and advertising companies, like the ones here on this slide. So there’s Ogilvy and McCann, Facebook, IBM.

The goal here was to have a better understanding, from the executives themselves, on what is happening in the industry and what specific skills they’re looking for when hiring our students. This is a really interesting time to be in this industry and hearing from executives, because it is so rapidly changing.

From this trip, I gained, of course, insights from them on what our students should be trained in, but also what certain cases we should be teaching and how to integrate these into future courses.

A little bit more about me is I think about myself in terms of working in the intersection of research methods and marketing and communication. Basically, that’s marketing research. I like to develop research programs to understand what consumers are thinking and what they want.

I want to give a quick example of that that I’m interested right now is that the idea of emotion in marketing. You look at any of the most effective advertising lists, strong … illiciting strong emotions is always at the top, in terms of what successful campaigns do. If that’s the case, then how do we measure this? How can we say that a certain advertising campaign illicits strong emotions for consumers?

There’s a number of ways to measure emotion. The first here is self-reporting measures. So here you just ask people whether … what they thought. Rate how happy or sad or excited, etc. of that this advertisement made you feel while watching it.

That’s verbally, but you can also do it visually here, where there’s a woman’s face showing all sorts of different emotions. Sometimes that can help consumers or participants better understand what they were feeling at the time. So you pick the face that’s most like yours while watching the advertisement, and then it says, “What was it about this advertisement, what specific parts, made you feel that way?”

Another way of showing this visually is basically emojis. So here you don’t have the verbal cues, but you can pick the happy face or sad face or, rather, what kind of response you are feeling when watching the advertisement.

Then here, lastly, and this tends to be more scientific in nature, where it’s physiologically. So here we do an fMRI, where we can show people a brain scan. You actually show the advertisement in the MRI, and you see people’s response to it, or you can put a sensor on someone’s finger and see their skin conductivity.

So that’s a little bit about my current research, but I wanted to talk about the main courses, too. Neil just spoke about 540, Use of Communication Research, which is the first course that you will be taking, along with 500.

I also teach 541, which Atif, who’s our next speaker, was in. He was on Team Macy’s. In this class, you get assigned one of four brands that are struggling, whether … I think last semester was Nordstrom’s and TOMS and J.Crew, and you develop an integrated marketing communication plan from start to finish, based on how that brand should approach the specific challenge.

Then there’s 555, Online Marketing. Here, you really get your hands dirty in trying to create something for a brand, whether … Many students create an app from start to finish for a brand, or whether it’s an online poll, online discussion forum, something for Facebook. That’s where you put your creative skills to use.

Then 587 is what I’m teaching right now, which is Audience Analysis. Internally, we call this marketing research, and I will do a deeper dive into that specific course.

This summer, we’re about halfway through 587, and we have partnered with a company called Vetted. I don’t know if any of you have heard of it. It is in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and it’s a veterinary startup company that does in-home pet care services. So you book online. You get a vet to come to your house, if you have a dog or cat that doesn’t like to go to a vet or you just want the convenience of it. They come. They’re there for an hour and a half. They can run tests. They can do wellness care, do your checkup. They can prescribe medication, and then you’re on your way.

The client came to us with many challenges that they’re facing in terms of increasing the number of consumers they have and market penetration. Our students step back and try to create research questions based on what they’ve heard from the client.

So here’s some examples of research questions from my students: Should Vetted introduce a phone app, and what capabilities would consumers want in this app? Right now, like I said, they’re just a website. But do consumers want an app?

The client thinks that an app are kind of on your phone, and that’s where apps go to die. You download it and you never think about it again. You need veterinary service so rarely that they don’t think it’s necessarily a good investment for them. But my students are starting to do research and find that, actually, consumers really like the idea of an app. If so, then what kind of capabilities would this app have?

Also, what copy and visuals are most likely to increase attention? For example, do informative ads or emotional ads, like we talked about emotional earlier, increase click-through rates, interest in the company, and likelihood of use?

So here’s the timeline of the class. We first meet with the client. So it’s about an hour and a half, where we do about 30 minutes where the client presents and then a really long Q and A, where we really try to dissect the problems of this current company.

Then we understand the problem. We step back and digest the information that we heard. We create a research design, whether that is focus groups, experiments, surveys, content analysis, interviews, observations, a combination of all of those, and a plan of action to go forward. Then we go out and we actually collect data. We run focus groups. We do surveys. Then we do our data analysis, and we end with a report. We’re at data collection right now.

This is a final slide here of what my students are doing. That slide … I flipped through quickly, but it just shows that they were going to plan an experiment where they were going to examine the information vs. emotional impact. So they were going to do a mock-up of two different ads for this company, and they were going to test it using Amazon Turk.

So they were gonna recruit participants and show them the ads and then ask them some dependent variables, like, “How interested are you in this service, how likely are you to book for your pets, and how comfortable are you with a veterinarian coming to your house, based on seeing this ad?”

So that’s where my students are at right now, and I look forward … I just spent the morning clearing their instruments, their guides, their focus group guides, their interview protocols. Then, this next week, they’re gonna go out and collect that data.

All right. So that’s a little bit about 587, myself, and the courses I teach. Now I will hand it back to Neil. Thank you.

Neil Teixeira:                      Thank you so much, Dr. Pade. I really appreciate it. Dr. Pade teaches a number of courses. It’s very likely that if you start your program in the fall, you will have Dr. Pade for one or more of your courses within the first couple of semesters. She’s an excellent instructor, a great resource, and our students really love her. So thank you so much for participating today, Dr. Pade.

I’d like now to introduce our alumni speaker, Atif Elkadi. He’s the Chief Commercial Officer for the Ontario International Airport. For those of you who are not familiar with the LA area, Ontario International Airport is one of the major airports in the LA area. A number of flights, major flights, come in through Ontario International Airport vs., say, LAX. So if you’re looking to fly in or out of LA, it’s very likely that one of your flights or one of your flight options will be the Ontario International Airport.

He has more than 17 years of senior-level experience in all aspects of strategic marketing, social media, and brand management, including public relations and marketing and advertising for the international airports. I’d like to start off by asking Atif to briefly introduce himself, in addition to my introduction, and tell us about why he chose the Master of Communication Management Program from Annenberg. Then I’ll follow up with a few other questions.

Atif Elkadi:                           Thank you, Neil, and thank you for that reminder for folks, if they ever wanna fly into the LA area. I know my staff appreciates that.

I will have to say that one of the best decisions I have ever made was signing up for the MCM program. About two years ago, I was a Senior Manager in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Texas. I felt that my career was stagnant. I felt that my job was repetitive. I wasn’t being challenged, and I needed something to kind of infuse life into this world of communications that I was enamored with.

I had my undergrad from journalism, and I wanted to be a part of and I knew we could do more. I saw one of the advertisements for MCM. So I looked into it, and it truly was an amazing experience. A big reason why was everything that we did in all of our coursework was practical stuff that could be used in our daily jobs.

Also, the [inaudible 00:22:53] of “online” being synonymous with “easy” is completely untrue. Let me tell you why, from my experience. You have to learn how to time-manage much better than anybody that’s going on campus, in my opinion, and then you also have to learn how to work virtually with teams and different personalities and schedule times and conflicts. That helped prepare me for the different teams that I work with across kind of the globe and the different stuff that we do as an airport. You really get very good at that skill set, especially in this program and going through this experience.

Once you become part of what I call the Trojan … other people call it the Trojan family, you truly are part of a family. It opened up networking doors for me that I really did not think were possible before I joined this program. As I said, I started this program as a Senior Manager. Now I’m a Chief Commercial Officer at an international airport.

I won’t say that’s what it’s gonna be for everybody, but, at least for me, a big reason why I was able to go on that path and challenge myself was because I was in this program and the classes I took at the program.

Neil Teixeira:                      Fantastic, Atif. Could you talk a little bit about some of the specific courses or skills that you took from the program and apply on a regular basis?

Atif Elkadi:                           Yeah, so, I mean … Dr. Pade mentioned it with the Integrated Marketing Communications course. You take a company like Macy’s and you start to think about the different issues and challenges they have. In our classmates, there was Denny’s as well and another organization. What you really do is you start to learn how to dig deeper into why they are not being as successful as they can be. It makes you take a step back and look at your organization, probably, in a different way.

I’ll be the first to admit it: When you take that first class, with regards to research, 541, I never really understood … I knew about research and how it worked, but it helps you … Even if you don’t like numbers and you don’t like math – and I don’t; I personally don’t – you understand how to be analytical and read the research and then apply it in a method that’s valuable to your organization so that you’re actually spending money where it makes sense and it works.

I would be remiss not to mention this: One of my group members in one of my classes, which was, I believe, Strategic Communications, I was so impressed with the way we worked together, she was the first person I hired when I got to this job in Southern California. She now works for me as our Director of Marketing.

So there is a lot of talent out there. I know Neil talked about it in the introduction. So there are a lot of opportunities in that regard as well.

Neil Teixeira:                      I’m always delighted to hear that, and there’s so many stories that we don’t hear about. Some of this stuff happens very quietly, but it’s great when our alumni tell us that they met someone in the program that they hired into a position or they recruited into their organization, because that’s the kind of professional and personal networking that we know happens, in some ways, much better online than it does on campus.

It may be counterintuitive, but I think, Atif, you could probably attest to the fact that when you do this kind of virtual group work so often, so regularly, online, that you build really strong, lasting connections with your classmates, enough so that you trust them to take on roles within your organization or even come work for you. So that’s really great to hear.

Could you also talk a bit about your experience with the program maybe on a fun, personal level? I know you attended commencement and other activities. Can you talk about what it’s like to be a member of the Trojan family?

Atif Elkadi:                           Yeah, I mean, I would say … For the first part of this program, I was in Texas, and I wore my USC gear proud. There were people that I would meet that would say, “Hey, I went there. I did the online program,” that had graduated before.

There’s a lot of great aspects. We did a few meetups with groups that I were in from class, and I am still friends with those folks. Then the game, the homecoming football game, every year is a great experience. I know some of my group members did go to that.

Then when you go to commencement and you go to the barbecue and you kind of all come together and you’ve been on this journey, it’s just something that you share. What was great for me is the person that I hired, we actually graduated on the same day together, and that’s something that we’ll always share, kind of within our careers together.

So there’s a whole other aspect, just aside from the schooling part of it, but the social aspect of it. Some of my friends that I reach out to now for personal stuff that I look to for advice and I look to for guidance, that has nothing to do with any of the stuff we did through the program.

Neil Teixeira:                      Fantastic. So I just want to clarify for our audience, there are special events that Annenberg hosts and that USC hosts that are unique and special to our online students.

So Atif was mentioning that, for homecoming, the online MCM program hosts a weekend affair, where Friday night, before homecoming game, we have a reception just for you, our online students and alumni. Then Saturday, we have a tailgate and the football game, where we ask everyone who wants to come in to come in with their families and friends to attend the football game, and we all have a big block of seats together. So you get to spend time with your classmates and introduce them to your family and friends.

Then, of course, we also have commencement, and the barbecue that Atif mentioned, again, is unique to our online program. It’s a barbecue for you and your families and your loved ones to celebrate the accomplishment of getting your degree online and, in part, for us to thank them for all the sacrifices that they make in supporting you through your education, because, as Atif said, it is a demanding program. It’s a rigorous program.

But that’s what you want. You want something that is gonna be respected and valuable, and it’s gonna contribute to your growth. Online is not easy – at least, not at Annenberg and at USC. So we expect that you’ll find this program, should you apply and be admitted, incredibly rewarding, incredibly challenging, but, ultimately, one of the most important accomplishments of your career.

Atif … I wanna thank Atif so much for joining us to present about his experiences in the program. He’ll be around for Q and A as well.

Atif Elkadi:                           Not a problem. Thank you, Neil.

Neil Teixeira:                      Thank you. Before I hand the presentation over to Gerry, who will discuss what our faculty admission committee will look for in your application, I’d like to mention that there is still plenty of time to get your application started and submitted for fall. Hopefully, each of you will touch base with an enrollment advisor after our call today.

Gerry, you can go ahead and take over now. Thank you.

Gerry Reyes:                      Thank you, Neil. So I wanna go over some of the admission requirements for our program. For starters, you must complete an online application. We need an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution. We need official transcripts from all institutions attended. If there’s an issue in obtaining a transcript, you can talk to your advisor to discuss other alternatives.

We need GRE scores from within five years. GRE waivers are available for qualified applicants. A statement of purpose, a writing sample – which can be professional- or academic-based – professional resume, and two letters of recommendation, which need to be from a supervisor or professor, professional or academic.

So, currently, we are accepting applications for the fall 2018 term. That begins on Wednesday, September 7th. We have an early deadline of Friday, July the 20th. Those individuals who qualify for a GRE waiver – and I’ll go over those details in just a moment – we encourage you to get in contact with your enrollment advisor as soon as possible to ensure that you can complete your application prior to that date, as you will be eligible for an application fee reimbursement along with preparation tools and webinar.

Our deadline for the fall term is Friday, August the 10th, which is about one month away.

As Neil mentioned, there’s plenty of time to complete your application. If you have not taken your GRE, eligible candidates may qualify for a GRE waiver. A GRE waiver is available for any individual with 10 or more years of professional work experience. Individuals with anywhere from five to nine years of professional work experience accompanied with an above a 3.0 cumulative GPA may also qualify.

Once again, we will encourage you to get in contact with your enrollment advisor so we can put together a plan ensuring that you can complete your application prior to one of our two deadlines.

Now I’d like to open it up for our Q and A section. This one, I’d like to pass off to Neil. We have a student who wants to apply for the fall semester but is concerned that he doesn’t have enough time to take the GRE. What might be their option, Neil?

Neil Teixeira:                      Great question. So if you don’t qualify for a GRE waiver, meaning you don’t have 10 or more years of professional experience or you don’t have five to nine years of work experience with the accompanying 3.0 GPA, what we recommend is that you get started on an application by talking to an enrollment advisor today, provide him or her with your professional resume, provide him or her with a writing sample as quickly as you can, and, ultimately, we’re gonna be asking you to provide your undergraduate transcript.

If you have a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA, we will consider a GRE waiver, which means that you’ll be considered for application and review for fall admission and you will take the GRE in the fall term. So you won’t have to have a GRE score, should it be required, before submitting your application, and you can be admitted to the program on the condition that you complete a GRE test during the fall term. So sometime between September and December, you would have to schedule the test and take it.

That’s for folks who are concerned about preparing for the test or unable to schedule the test before our deadlines.

Gerry Reyes:                      Wonderful. Wonderful, Neil. I can take this question: Is there still time to apply?

As I said, yes. There’s still plenty of time. Most students can complete their application in about seven to ten days or so, especially if they qualify for a GRE waiver or deferral, as Neil just went over. Seven to ten days. Our early deadline is, once again, July 20th. That’s about nine days away. If you get in contact with your enrollment advisor, we can put together a strategic plan to ensure that you complete everything prior to that date.

Now, our main deadline is August the 10th, which is a Friday. You’re still a month away. Yes, there’s still plenty of time.

This question I’d like to give off to Neil: Would this program be useful in broadcast reporting or journalism careers? Neil?

Neil Teixeira:                      That’s a good question. So we have a lot of folks who have come through the program as former or current journalists who work in newsrooms. As a Communication Management degree, it can be applied to broadcast journalism or journalism in, as far as it goes, newsroom management.

It is a strategic communication, and strategic communications apply to professional communications, like marketing, advertising, but, also, organizational communication. So if you operate or manage a team, yes, this degree can absolutely be beneficial to you in the field of journalism.

However, I will say that if you’re looking to improve specific journalistic skills, meaning as applied to broadcast journalism specifically, this may not be the right degree for you. So if you’re looking to hone your reporting skills, if you want to become a reporter, that’s … This is not the degree for you in that case. Annenberg has other degrees – Master’s in Journalism – that you can apply for that would be better fitted to that type of career track.

But, again, if you … Say you manage a team of journalists or you work in the newsroom and you want to prepare yourself to deal with complex strategic communication questions. This degree would be beneficial to you.

Gerry Reyes:                      Great. This question is for either Neil or Dr. Pade: Can you talk about the opportunities students have to work with clients, benefits to that as well?

Neil Teixeira:                      Dr. Pade, are you still on the line?

Courtney Pade:                Sure, I can … Yeah, I’m still here.

Neil Teixeira:                      Yeah.

Courtney Pade:                I can talk about it quickly.

Yeah, we work with a variety of, I guess, different ways of working with brands. In 541, the one that Atif was talking about, when we worked with Macy’s, we didn’t work with a representative of the company. The instructors picked four brands that we think were struggling, as reported in the news and looking at their financial statements, and then the students worked on that separately, not in alliance with the brands.

I will say, though, that a couple semesters ago, we assigned the brand Denny’s, and students went through the whole semester, created a great integrated marketing campaign for them, and then, at the end of the semester, said, “We think we did such a good job here.” I agreed with them. They approached Denny’s and said, “We’d love to share this with you.” Denny’s gave them a meeting, and they did a virtual meeting with their marketing team to see what they pulled together. So they got access to the company that way.

In 587, which is the class I’m teaching now, where I was talking about Vetted, that is where the client comes to class, talks to the class, gives feedback all semester long. They answer questions, students can email them, and then they actually review the presentations at the end and give feedback on those.

So that’s more of a learning experience for the students. We think of it as a mutually beneficially relationship, where students might give interesting insights, but the client also is really helping teach the students as well.

Gerry Reyes:                      Great. This is kind of a related question: “Is there an immersion experience included in the curriculum or program?”

Neil Teixeira:                      I’ll take that question. So I think what you may be asking is, “Is there an on-campus immersion experience where you come to campus for a week or more or even a couple of weekends?” The answer is no. This is a 100% online degree program.

However, part of the Annenberg advantage, and USC as well, is that all of the resources that are available on campus are open to students who are online who come to campus. That’s not always the case with every online program, but it is at USC. So if you are local or you travel to USC and you want to access the libraries, you wanna get your USC card or have access to discounts and benefits through the ticket office, if you feel like you’d like to spend some time on campus, engaging in other activities, especially if you’re local, you absolutely have every right to do that. USC provides those same benefits to you as an online student.

However, this program is designed to be flexible for online … Sorry, flexible for working professionals, and is therefore 100% online.

Now, if you’re ever thinking about coming to visit us, let me know. Make sure that you contact us so that we can give you a tour, hopefully take you out to lunch. We love meeting our online students. So if you’re ever in the area … We have some students actually coming … We have a student and their family coming up from Hawaii in a couple of weeks that I’ll be meeting with and providing a tour.

If you’re here during the fall and spring semesters especially, there’s probably a really good chance you’ll get to meet a lot of your faculty.

Gerry Reyes:                      Thank you. Here’s a good question: In terms of … A student asks, “In terms of classes, I have a meeting at work that happens spontaneously. So are classes specific times and dates, or is it flexible assignments?”

Neil Teixeira:                      That’s a good question.

Gerry Reyes:                      [crosstalk 00:39:56].

Neil Teixeira:                      Yeah, those are really good questions. So, yes, there are specific due dates, and, yes, there are specific times for certain live elements of the program. So the program is almost entirely asynchronous, save for several live sessions, where you’ll communicate with your classmates and your instructor in kind of a Q and A, lecture-type environment, virtually. You’ll see each other face-to-face virtually, through our platform. You’ll sometimes have an opportunity to experience a lecture.

But the idea is that those sessions are all recorded. So, for example, most of our live sessions occur sometime between 5:30 and 7:30 PM Pacific time so that we can get as many people from Hawaii all the way to New York and, in some cases, international participating at the same time.

However, if you can’t make that session, the majority of them are … How do we say? They’re optional attendance, meaning we encourage you to attend, but if you can’t make it, you’re required to watch the recording of the live session so that you can keep up with the material.

It’s important that you keep up with the daily and weekly material, because, at the end of every module, whether that’s week-long module or a two-week-long module, there are assignments due. So, yes, there are specific times in which assignments need to be submitted, just like you would have on campus. They’re usually set so that items are due either at the end of a weekend or after a weekend. So you almost always have a weekend to get work done before it’s due, say, on Sunday night or, in some cases, on Monday or Tuesday night.

Our weeks are set up so that they begin on Wednesdays and end on Tuesdays. We did that because we wanted to make sure that you had a chance to get through some of the course material before you turn in your assignments but that your assignments were due either during or after a weekend. When we had things set up Monday through Wednesday … Right? Middle of the week is really hard for most working professionals.

So we have arbitrarily created a system where Wednesday is the first day of the week and Tuesday’s the last day of the week. So the middle of the week now is the weekend. That gives us a chance to check in on your progress and make sure that, by the end of the week, you’ve had an assignment turned in, we’ve looked at it, and maybe we’ve discussed it. That’s really beneficial.

There are going to be some live sessions that are mandatory, and you’ll have early notice as to when they are. They’ll be in the syllabus on the first day of class, and that’s because you may be presenting either individually or in a group. So, like in 541, at the very end of the class, you’ll be presenting as a team on your brand project, and it’s important that you participate as a team.

However, in those very, very rare circumstances where it’s absolutely impossible to attend that session, we do make accommodations where students can pre-record some element of their presentation or pre-record their entire presentation to be available there, and then they take questions synchronously or asynchronously.

So I hope that answers the question. The truth is, we try to make the program as flexible as possible for working professionals. There are gonna be some times where you’re gonna be asked to attend something live, but most of the time, you have the option of watching a recording, and, of course, assignments are due at a specific date and time.

Gerry Reyes:                      All right. I have a question that I can address: Please explain the difference between early deadline of 7/20 – July 20th – and hard deadline August 10th.

So with our early deadline, we are providing the applicant they may be eligible for a reimbursed application fee after the third week of class, priority review in early decision, invitation to an exclusive faculty meet-and-greet webinar, early access to class registration and financial planning tools, early access to the learning management platform and instructional materials.

This is something you might wanna take advantage of. It will definitely prepare you to be successful.

However, our hard deadline of Friday, August the 10th, we definitely wanna make sure that you complete your application prior to that. As we spoke before, this can be completed in as many as 10 days maximum. So definitely get in contact with your advisor so we can put together a plan for you.

Our next question is, “What kind of assignments are there in the program?” Neil?

Neil Teixeira:                      Actually, I think Dr. Pade … I mean, you could talk a bit about the type of assignments that you’ve overseen in 540, 587, 555.

Courtney Pade:                Sure. There’s lots of different types of assignments. Of course, in 540, we want to lay the groundwork for more academic writing. So it’s more like a writing bootcamp. You’ll learn APA, how to cite, and you’ll create more research papers and not so many presentations.

In 500, which is also … Managing Communication, the first class you’ll take, that is a little bit more presentation-based. But you’re also going to be doing what’s called a literature review, which is academic in nature. That is, again, because in the first semester, we know that many people have been out of school for a very long time, and you need to work up to that academic standard again and what is expected.

But then, in the more elective classes like 541, Integrated Marketing, that is more of a report. So it’s a different type of tone. You can talk directly to the brand. You give recommendations. You can write in bullet points. Of course, you wanna be well-sourced, and we do focus on academic research that we’re applying to industry. But it’s a little bit different in nature there.

But in 555, which is the Digital Marketing class, that is a really creative project where you can go on … You can research different apps. You create your own app for a certain brand, or you create … Let’s say you choose a music festival and you create all the digital elements for that festival. So there’s less of a writing component, but much more emphasis on creative learning.

In 541, Integrated Marketing, you do that as well. You can create a video for your brand, whether that is like a pre-roll or a full-length, 30-, 60-second ad for your brand.

We understand that students are coming to us with different strengths. So one person’s strength might be just academic writing and they focus more on the report, while another person is much more creatively-minded and they do the videos.

So I guess, across all classes, there’s no one standard in terms of assignments, but we really try to vary the types of learning.

Neil Teixeira:                      That’s great. I’ll add that, for those students who expect testing to be a big part of this, you’re evaluated mostly on your oral presentation and your written skills in this program. Very rarely will you have to take a test. It’s most likely more like a quiz.

Long, lengthy, hours-long exams is not a feature of this program. Obviously, it’s not really a great test of real-world application, at least in our environment as communicators. So we evaluate you on things that we expect you to be really proficient at – writing, oral presentation, critical thinking – as you advance in your careers.

Gerry Reyes:                      Wonderful. We have time for a few more questions. In the meantime, we are gonna be posting our enrollment advisors’ contact information. So please be sure to make note of those.

If we don’t address your question, we will contact you directly to answer them.

If a student owns or works for an organization interested in building a case study, can this study situation be introduced for consideration?

Neil Teixeira:                      It’s a great question for Dr. Pade.

Courtney Pade:                So say it one more time.

Gerry Reyes:                      Yes.

Courtney Pade:                Sorry, I didn’t understand the question.

Gerry Reyes:                      No problem, no problem. If a student owns or works for an organization interested in building a case study, can this study situation be introduced for consideration?

Courtney Pade:                I’m not sure this is what’s being asked, but I know students often use the company they’re currently working at or a problem they’re currently having as the topic of their paper. So, for some … Going back to the Digital Marketing class, if you are in a small company, you have your own company, you’re thinking about starting a company, you can absolutely use your own company and create coursework that you then can use in your own private life. You can create a portfolio piece.

For team assignments, this can be the case, too, although, of course, you have to get sign-off on your team that you will then … you’re all using your company and that you might then be using what was produced on your own website or something like that. So …

Oftentimes, in almost every discussion board post, we ask that you emphasize your own experience, how the coursework applies to what you’re doing right now, examples from your own life on how you’ve seen certain theories or certain ideas be applied. So we’re constantly asking you to source back to what you’re doing and using that for learning, and other people can learn from it as well.

Neil Teixeira:                      I’ll add one more element to that, because it’s a direct application to our capstone experience. So the program asks you to take a total of 32 units, which is usually eight four-unit courses.

However, students have the option of engaging as their capstone in a practicum course. So this is essentially two two-unit or sometimes just a full four-unit capstone course, where you choose the topic to do some research. That could be something like a case study about an organization that you either own or work at. So this is …

You work closely with an instructional advisor, one of our professors, and you will formulate kind of a strategic question that you wanna have answered. You’ll collect information through research. Maybe it’s existing research, your own research, and then you’ll analyze it, interpret it, and produce a report that could be something like … It could be a strategic communication plan. It could be a branding assignment. It could be a business plan.

There are a number of different types of outputs from this, but, like Dr. Pade described, it’s like a portfolio piece that you can apply to either an organization that you know about, that you own, that you work for, or maybe something prospective. You can use an organization that you aspire to work for, and you can investigate that, maybe a problem that’s been going on that’s been discussed, maybe, in the press about that organization, and you can come up with a strategic plan that’s focused on that.

The idea is that it’s a tailored project specific to your individual needs and interests.

Gerry Reyes:                      Thank you. Here’s a good question for either Neil or Dr. Pade: As a student goes through the program, how much contact will be with the head professors, as compared with section instructors? Are all classes essentially taught by the section instructors?

Courtney Pade:                Neil, do you want me to take that?

Neil Teixeira:                      Yeah, that’d be great.

Courtney Pade:                So I serve as both, as the course director, which we call the head instructor, and the section instructor. We really believe in a team teaching environment.

So when I am the course director, I have weekly meetings, live meetings, with my section instructors. We talk about what’s going on in the course, what’s coming up, what students are struggling with, what’s going well, and …

But the section instructors are the ones that will be more of the day-to-day contact for you. They’ll be doing your grading. If you have any questions about the course, you’ll reach out to them first. You can always reach out to the course director, but the section instructor will be your first point of contact.

Then, in terms of live sessions, the course director will often have live sessions, but they run themselves. They’re course-wide, so all the sections will attend, and it’ll be maybe a discussion with a guest lecturer, someone that’s in the industry. Maybe something that the class is struggling with, the course director will come and do a lecture on that.

Section instructors will do many live sessions and probably most of the live sessions, where they’re talking about your assignments. They’ll do question and answer live sessions, and that’s where you’ll come as a section – so 15 to 20 people – and talk with your section instructor.

But I will say, the first point of contact will almost always be your section instructor. But the course director is very much in the class and knows what everyone is up to, what’s going on, and is available if students have questions.

Neil Teixeira:                      I think it’s important to add, too, that our section instructors, course directors are, largely, interchangeable. I want to disabuse any prospective student of the idea that our section instructors are TAs. They’re not.

At Annenberg, for this program, it’s really important that our faculty is the same faculty, the same top-notch faculty, that you get on campus. So our instructors have PhDs. They have industry experience.

Like Dr. Pade described, she is both a section instructor and a course director for different courses, and her role in that regard doesn’t mean you’re getting a different value out of her as a student. In fact, maybe you’re getting more value, because you’re getting direct access to the top faculty at Annenberg, who will engage with you in a very small, 20-person or fewer section size.

So, on average, our students engage in sections of around 16 to 17 students. So you’re getting … As opposed to on campus, where you might have classes of 40 or so in the MCM program. So you’re getting access to Dr. Pade, for example, as a section instructor, with only 16, 17 other students in your section.

As a course director, all of our course directors host live sessions, and they’re available to engage with their students whenever you have questions.

Gerry Reyes:                      Thank you, Neil. Thank you, Dr. Pade. Thank you, Atif. Thank you, everyone, for attending. This concludes our webinar for today.

Once again, if we did not address your question, we will be reaching out to you directly. For any additional questions or if you wanna start your application, please contact your enrollment advisor, and we will be in touch. Thank you so much for your time.