Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

ADPR Student Trip Expands Knowledge of Career Possibilities

A group of advertising and public relations faculty and students stand before an orange background.

Students and faculty from the Tombras School of Advertising visited Memphis for a professional networking trip.

As the field of communications continues to evolve, so do the career options for those entering it. There is such a variety of job options and opportunities that course learning alone won’t expose students to all of it, said Assistant Professor of Practice Joe Stabb of the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations. That’s why the school and the College of Communication and Information’s Office of Career Development regularly organize trips and events for students to explore all the possibilities that await them upon graduation.

“Getting the students out of the classroom and into the field is always beneficial. Part of it is getting students to meet with industry professionals and see what their jobs are like in real-life, and the other part of it is for them to meet with alumni who can share some of those experiences and skills and things that we can’t necessarily do in the classroom,” Stabb explained.

One of the most recent trips the school facilitated took students across the state to Memphis, where they met with CCI alumni such as Cindy Brewer (’91). Brewer earned her degree in journalism, but found her way into marketing and events management after she graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Brewer is co-founder and principal of LEO Events, which plans and executes every part of corporate events from the beginning to end, stage forward and stage back. LEO Events handles many high-profile in-person and, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual corporate events that require many moving parts to be successful; their clients include global brands such as Walmart, Sherwin-Williams, and Hanes. 

Brewer was visited earlier in the year by CCI Dean Joe Mazer and Senior Director of Advancement Mark Geller, as part of visits the two were making to connect and kindle relationships with CCI alumni. Their meeting was so positive it inspired Brewer to start collaborating with the college, particularly in the area of career development. She worked with Devan Lane, CCI director career development, to participate in some mix and mingle events with students, and also hired a virtual intern from the college, all of which she said have been fantastic experiences.

So when Brewer was approached about the ADPR trip to Memphis, she jumped right on board and was integral in planning parts of the student trip, including a visit to LEO Events so students could learn about the various jobs and functions there. She was excited to meet the students and is also looking forward to someday hiring CCI students and alumni for internships and entry-level positions.

“Our team was excited to see how engaged the students were, and how professional they were, and how much experience they could bring as an entry-level employee to the organization. I think that is a true testament to the college with the immersive experiences they’re bringing to students both on campus and off campus,” Brewer said.

She met with the students for more than two hours and spoke with them about what they hoped to do with their careers, and what opportunities they could have at LEO Events. Brewer said that, prior to the pandemic, there weren’t internships or entry-level positions at LEO Events, but adding a large virtual and digital component to the business has expanded those opportunities. 

For public relations senior Aaron Ridenour, the trip was exciting and eye-opening. 

“It was a bit overwhelming but really beneficial. Just being in the professional settings, getting used to talking in those professional settings, seeing agencies from the inside out, and all the networking was great,” he said. 

His biggest takeaway after visiting organizations including LEO Events and FedEx was learning the difference between working at an agency versus working on an in-house team. Ridenour hopes to land a job in social media, and he likes the idea of developing messages for just one brand, so he now knows that working on an in-house team is the best fit for him.

It took a while for Ridenour to find his groove in a major, but once he landed on public relations and social media, he felt right at home. He said the opportunities CCI has provided, such as this trip, have been integral in preparing him for his future career.

“Coming to CCI has single-handedly changed my life in the last year; with the trips, the internships, and the opportunities, it has all been something to behold,” he said.