JEM Alumni Collaborate with CCI to Create Hands-On Learning Experiences in Sports Communication
Students from JEM 336 Video Production interview another CCI student for a Tennessee Athletics internship spotlight video.
If there’s anything that longtime friends and School of Journalism and Electronic Media alumni Josh Lively (’16, ‘19) and Isaac Fowler (‘18) know, it’s that nothing beats learning through hands-on experiences as a student. That’s why the duo have teamed up with Devan Lane, director of the College of Communication and Information’s Office for Career Development, to create such opportunities for CCI students.
Both Lively and Fowler work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Lively is an assistant media relations director for Tennessee Athletics, and Fowler is a senior producer for the Office of Communication and Marketing as well as an adjunct lecturer for JEM. The two have a history that goes all the way back to high school, and have stayed close since. Their friendship helped to foster this new collaboration between three entities that helps to place CCI students into Tennessee Athletics Internships, and also gives students in Fowler’s JEM 336 Video Production class an opportunity to produce polished videos about these internships.
Lane said the idea to connect all these points together started when CCI Dean Joe Mazer began working with Tennessee Athletics to create a more formal arrangement allowing the college to send interns to work there, which led to Lively getting involved on behalf of media relations. After Lively, who also earned his master’s degree in sports management from UT, sat on a panel at the college about all the communication careers that exist in sports, the idea emerged to produce spotlights about the various internships.
But there came about a question as to which department would create the videos since Tennessee Athletics and CCI were both involved. That’s when Lively called on his long-time friend, Fowler, to ask him if UT’s Office of Communication and Marketing would want to be involved in creating the videos. Then, they realized there was another option, one that would also benefit CCI students: Fowler could create a project in his course for students to film, edit, and produce the internship spotlight videos.
“This was just an opportunity to help all our students as sports is one of the top interest areas across the college in terms of careers. The intern spotlight videos help them understand what a career in athletics could be to take them from the general idea of, ‘I’m interested in sports’ to an understanding of what they would be doing in a job or position,” Lane said.
Lively said it was a win-win-win situation and he’s been enjoying this new relationship with CCI to place interns in his department. Whereas before, many JEM students interested in sports often found their way to Tennessee Athletics via various routes, now he’s getting students to work in other areas, such as public relations. The intern spotlight videos will be posted on the “Intern with the Vols” page at Tennessee Athletics, and Lively said it helps those applying to better understand what the internship will entail.
“It is a really good partnership and really worked out well. When I was a journalism student, I wanted that opportunity because it felt real, it ups the ante. It makes them want to do a good job and take ownership of it, and it gives them experience,” he said.
As for the students who get to create the internship spotlight videos, Fowler said he could see the difference in their work when they knew there were real clients and that the videos would serve a purpose and be viewed by others than himself.
“Every week I shoot interviews and I shoot B-roll, so no matter what the job is, you’re still going to have to do that, and this project specifically hones in on that. They have to operate in the field, make sure their equipment works, and also produce a story,” he said. “They have to think about how you create a story, create great interview questions, and make the person feel comfortable. So it helps them with the technical skills but also on the story side.”
As alumni of JEM and CCI, both Fowler and Lively are enjoying the chance to work with the college and they are excited about the direction the college is headed with its career development efforts.
“Devan is making it a priority for students to get hands-on experience, and not just in athletics, but in all these areas, like the Volunteer Channel and local news stations. Now the emphasis from the college and with Devan is to really bridge this gap for students as a whole. Not only is it a priority, it’s a major priority to emphasize it,” Fowler said. “I tell students all the time that you’ve got to have that experience; if you don’t want to do the job or don’t like it, you got to find that out early. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself, go get these experiences early so you can find out and test what you like.”