$500 survey draw winner: Communication skills used in “almost every aspect of life”

Congratulations to University of the Fraser Valley student Garrett Johnson, a 2020 Bachelor of Arts graduate  for having his name drawn from a pool of over 1100 alumni and current students who responded to the recent Communications Department survey. The survey gathered information to contribute to developing a Communications Major within the Bachelor of Arts.

We extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who responded to the survey!!!

Garrett says he put his knowledge from his Communications 125 course to work immediately in applying to Simon Fraser University and has been accepted to a Masters program  – something we are always happy to hear.

We also liked hearing his answers to our questions below because we know that our students at UFV have an amazing array of plans for the future and reasons why they decide that university is great path to meet their goals. Here are some of the things he had to say:

What are some favourite memories about any of the courses you took?
I took that specific course while studying remotely from Toronto. I found myself really enjoying the course material as I took three online courses. Being able to communicate to both professors and fellow students in a concise and professional manner is key when using technology to communicate. Being able to directly implement the ideas and concepts directly into my other courses was very gratifying!

In what ways have you been able to use any of the communications skills?
I have used the communication skills learned from the course in almost every aspect of my life. I have applied the skills in my various volunteer positions that I hold where I am required to regularly communicate in a professional manner. I have also made use of the skills in applying for Grad school, and to which I owe some credit in regards to my acceptance.

What are your future plans?
Besides preparing for Grad school, I am a freelance translator, translating between English and French. I am very interested in researching, analyzing, and promoting Franco-Columbian literature and authors. I would like to continue my work translating, as well as pursue my scholarly interests into what I hope will one day transition into a career opportunity.

What else would you like to say about yourself?
I am thankful for the variety of courses that UFV offers, despite possibly not having a complete program in [Communications]. I would love to go back and follow more CMNS courses now that I know the benefit from them.

Congratulations again Garrett and best wishes for all your future successes.

“I feel like you aren’t hearing me.”

“I feel like you aren’t hearing me.”

By Hannah Celinski

Have you ever found yourself saying this during a conversation with a colleague or a friend? In recent months, I have sat on a variety of committees and panels where I have experienced or observed obstacles to communication. I have also found myself misunderstood on occasion, and I’ve realized that part of the issue is not being clear, it’s being heard.

I facilitate 3-day sessions called Instructional Skills Workshops. I often run an exercise on the second day, where I have people pair off. First, they sit back-to-back and Speaker A tries to tell Speaker B a quick story. The room is loud, they can’t see each other, and the message quickly becomes garbled. When the pairs debrief, only small sections of information are retained.

Then they switch partners and Speaker B tries to tell a story, while Speaker A does everything they can, short of leaving the room, to avoid what they have to say. Again, not much is retained, and Speaker A often admits that they were so busy trying to get out of the room, they didn’t pay any attention to what Speaker B was saying.

Finally, the speakers sit face-to-face and engage in Active Listening techniques. The message clears up immediately, and information is exchanged fluidly.

The next time you find yourself sitting in a meeting, thinking only about what you are going to say next, consider doing this instead:

  • listen carefully to what the other person is saying with no judgement one way or the other
  • carefully consider their point, shelving the potential bias of your own opinion
  • reflect on how their input might be useful with regards to the topic at hand
  • clarify any points the speaker made that might seem out of place, or perplexing
  • speak their points back to them to be sure you have understood their intention and nuance
  • share your own perspective while building on their offering

Use Active Listening to Coach Others

Another way to foster success during meetings is to prepare a living document that identifies how the group wants to work together during the session, or over the course of the committee duration. Identifying strategies to navigate difficult subjects or dissent is paramount to success in these instances.

Consider adopting practices like “ouch,” “oops.” If someone says something hurtful, you acknowledge the moment by simply saying, “ouch.” The person who was speaking says, “oops,” then a conversation can unfold around the issue by addressing it before the meeting is derailed through misunderstandings or microaggressions. (You can find more about ouch/oops here: https://www.diversityinclusioncenter.com/archives/ouch_files/Archives/Ouch_Vol5No1.html )

Finding ways to communicate effectively is vital. I was reminded of the importance of these practices recently, as I found myself disengaging from a discussion to temper my anger. This resulted in a lack of engagement on my part, and I know I missed valuable information while I was bringing myself down to a workable mental space.

We expect our students to listen actively, but sometimes it is important to remind ourselves of the tenants of Active Listening, so we don’t end up tuning in for, “I feel like you aren’t hearing me.” You probably aren’t. Let’s instead aim for: “That was productive. Thank you all for listening.” I know I’ll be going into future meetings with this as my goal.

I’ve included further resources for Active Listening from The Centre for Creative Leadership here: https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/coaching-others-use-active-listening-skills/

You can find more about Effective Listening through the UFV Student Services here: https://ufv.ca/media/assets/counselling/Learning+from+Lectures.pdf

Interested in learning effective ways to communicate better> At UFV, we offer a Professional Communications Certificate. To find out more information, go to ufv.ca/communications.

UFV Practicums, College of Arts

UFV Practicums, College of Arts

By Jennifer Barkey, ABT Practicum Student

Earlier this week, I sat down with Elise Goertz, Internship & Practicum Coordinator, and learned a little about UFV’s College of Arts practicum program. This was a fascinating experience, since I am also a UFV practicum student hailing from the Continuing Education Department.

What’s the scoop?

What exactly is a practicum, anyway?

Practicums are hands-on learning experiences outside of the classroom that offer students the chance to put theory to practice and actually work in their chosen field of interest.

These types of experiential learning opportunities are available to all qualifying students within the College of Arts. Students can gain actual work experience and make invaluable connections while studying–and will receive credits towards their degree! Most practicum courses are 3 to 6 credits, depending on the number of hours required.

Experience is essential

Practicum and internship opportunities are so valuable because they allow students to gain a hands on experience with the career or field that they are working towards. The completion of a practicum during a degree program gives graduating students a huge advantage! They walk into the workforce with both experience and education under their belt.

Is it a fit?

Have you ever thought that a specific job would be perfect for you, only to land it and find out you dislike it?

While completing a practicum, students gain practical knowledge that can only be found by working in the chosen field or profession. They then have a better gauge on their satisfaction level within the potential position as well as being able to identify gaps in their current education level when it comes to the practical application of knowledge. The earlier students can critically analyze their educational paths and future career choices, the easier it is to redirect to an educational or career path that is a better fit.

Is it required?

As was stated above, a practicum can be set up for any student within the College of Arts, however, only Criminology, Communications, Global Development and Graphic Design currently require a practicum. Although practicum and internship courses are not a requirement for all Degree and Certificate programs within the College of Arts, they are recommended.

Practicum courses also help students meet the ‘Civic Engagement’ piece of their degree requirements.

The Benefits

  • Hands-on practical training which help streamline future job choices
  • Identifying educational strengths
  • Can lead to future job placements
  • Development networking skills
  • Credits toward degree completion
  • Gaining actual experience
  • Classroom learning is put into practice
  • Students able to “try out” a job/field of interest before completing their degree
  • Students are paired with compatible employers
  • Practicum courses meet Civic Engagement requirements

More Info!

Don’t miss the exciting Practicum & Internship Lunch and Learn Information event happening on March 31, 2020 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in B101. Come and hear more in depth information about practicums and internships within the College of Arts. Bring your lunch and come learn about how you can get involved!

This event features:

  • Testimonials from prior practicum students
  • Linda Pardy sharing on domestic practicum placements
  • Cherie Enns sharing about the exciting Queen Elizabeth Scholar Internship, and international practicum placements
  • Q & A with an expert panel

You will want to attend in order to hear about the QE Scholar Internship program where you can travel abroad to East Africa, specifically Tanzania, Kenya, and India, for your internship. There is only a 2-year window for this program before the funding runs out which is at almost $7,000!

So, come to B101 on March 31st and hear about these exciting opportunities then take the next step and begin your practicum journey.

The Next Step

Find a full list of current practicums and internships that are offered by the College of Arts here. But don’t stop there, if you don’t see what you are looking for, make sure you drop by Elise’s office anytime Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 9:00am and 2:00pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9:00am and 4:30pm, or email her for more information!

Once you have discussed possible practicum ideas, she will send you the application and you will need to fill it out and send it back with your updated, vetted resume. This resume will be shown to potential employers so it must reflect current experience and education. The Career Centre is available for examining your resume and helping you reflect your current information.

Again, I invite you to join the Practicum Information Session “lunch and learn” on March 31st from 12:00pm to 1:00pm in B101 for your first step towards concrete practical knowledge application.

*Photos by UFV photographers and captured from UFV’s Flickr page

Back for season three: The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference returns

Back for season three: The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference returns

Jess Wind
Photos by Sarah Sovereign Photography, used with permission from Raspberry.

Academics, nerds, and fans alike will gather on March 13 for the third annual Riverdale-themed semi-academic conference about the Archie Comics adaptation and its expanding universe.

What started as a joke on Twitter in 2017 quickly ballooned to an interdisciplinary, multi-year conference and accompanying anthology (Riverdale: A Land of Contrasts due out in 2020), that explores and critiques themes represented (or lack thereof) in the CW’s Riverdale, Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and other Archie Comics content. Previous years have featured a body-positive, feminist photoshoot, tales from a casting agency, cross-property conspiracy theories, and an annual Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style interactive fanfiction, along with a healthy dose of academic critique.

The Riverdale TV show is the latest in an expansive property featuring America’s favourite blundering redheaded teen, the two women that fight over him, and his burger-loving best friend. Though many scholars and critics have pointed out this contemporary adaptation bears little resemblance to the “All-American teen” on which it is based.

What we’ve come to refer to as the Riverdale universe is an ever-expanding media-verse, including now three TV shows including Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix), and Katy Keene (CW), and tie-in comic book series.

Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are both filmed in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver areas, giving the show a strong sense of place for those of us that drive past Rocko’s diner in Mission, or the Fort Langley Community Hall regularly. Riverdale is not just “anywhere USA”, but also distinctly BC’s lower mainland. One thing continues to be true as we prepare event logistics for the third time: this “semi-academic” conference made up of fans, industry professionals, and scholars, could only exist here.

“What we’re doing is not quite academic, and not a fan convention, but something weird, and strange, and fun — fun being the key thing” says Heather McAlpine, conference organizer and associate professor in English at UFV in an interview with Raspberry last year.

What this have to do with communications?

In communications, we spend a lot of time talking about people. We talk about audience, and the relevance of purpose. We talk about inclusivity and barriers. We talk about stories.

The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference breaks these conversations out of the classroom and gives them more real world significance. Engage in the public exchange of ideas in a laid back atmosphere that does away with long-held stereotypes of the stuffy academic lecture-style presentation.

That said, Riverdale itself doesn’t always burden itself with questions of audience relevance, inclusivity, or storytelling, and past presentations have critiqued how, why, and what we expect of our entertainment. McAlpine explains the relationship between audience and content in Riverdale.

“Audiences are totally starving for better, more thoughtful, more inclusive representation in our media,” she says. “And we get so excited when we’re promised that kind of representation, but in many cases we’re let down by tokenism or representation that actually ends up reinforcing negative stereotypes.”

Whether Riverdale is “good” television (it’s not) isn’t a question. It is, however, exceedingly enduring (Archie first appeared in Pep Comics in 1941), problematic at times, campy and nostalgic at others. It fails (often) and gets back up (always). And it’s these in-between spaces that offer rich ground for critique and push boundaries, and where we situate the third annual Riverdale-themed semi-academic conference.

The conference is an interdisciplinary effort made up of faculty from UFV Communications, English, and elsewhere across the College of Arts, as well as UFV alumni. Presentations this year include the return of Citizen of Riverdale, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style fanfiction, staged readings and new conspiracy theories, a preview of the upcoming academic anthology: Riverdale: A Land of Contrasts, and a fresh dose of scholarly criticism.

The Riverdale Universe: Ride or Die conference takes place on March 13, 2020 in the South Asian Studies Institute (F Building) on Abbotsford campus with panels beginning at 9 am. The building is accessible, registration is free, and anyone from UFV and the public is welcome to attend.

See you there!

Communications Opportunities in the Fraser Valley

Communications Opportunities in the Fraser Valley

By Jennifer Barkey, UFV practicum student

Living in the Fraser Valley is desirable because of the beautiful setting, easy access to recreation activities and exercise, and its wide variety of opportunities for healthy living.

Wouldn’t it be even more attractive if we were able to work in our community as well?

Armed with this idea, I hit the internet to find out how many job opportunities there are within the Fraser Valley that also involve excellent communications skills and perhaps advanced communications schooling. I was not disappointed with the myriad of postings scattered across the information highway; I found a plethora of them quickly and easily through popular websites such as indeed.com, ufv.ca, bcjobs.ca and abbotsford.craigslist.org.

Sifting through the postings, I quickly realized that excellent communications is highly sought after in almost every industry out there. I saw postings for web specialists, marketers, managers, cooks, dispatchers, sales associates, and many more, all listing excellent communications as a required skill. A few postings required detailed working knowledge of communications practices and processes. The individuals these companies seek are able to discern which type of communication is most effective for the situation. Some prestigious postings also required a bachelor’s degree in Communications.

So how do we do it?

The best answer I can offer on how to acquire these exemplary communications skills is this: education, of course!

Thankfully, The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is conveniently located here, with campuses in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and Hope—and can meet your educational needs in this area. Want to advance in the workforce? Enroll in a communications program at UFV: UFV offers a professional communications certificate, as well as a communications minor.

It will change your life for the better by giving you an advantage over other candidates, and open the door to opportunities in the Fraser Valley that are waiting for you.

Talk to an advisor today, or email cmns@ufv.ca.

*Photograph by Jennifer Barkey

Catching up with public speaking award winner, Liz Power

By Jess Wind

Every year one student from each section of CMNS 235: Public Speaking is nominated by their class for the Rise and Shine Toastmasters award at the end of the semester. These nominees present an acceptance speech as their entry for the award and one exceptional speaker is chosen for the annual $600 prize.

Our most recent winner is Liz Powers, a Bachelor of Arts student with plans to major in psychology before moving on to a Masters in counselling. She’s prepared for it to take longer than the average four-year degree because on top of being a student and server, Liz is a mother of three.

Liz came into every class with a smile and enthusiasm that radiated to everyone around her. Liz’s speeches were relevant to her life, and that of her audience with a healthy dose of humour to draw her listeners in. Most memorably, Liz taught us how to bake cookies for her demonstration speech, and there were plenty of samples to go around.

I caught up with Liz to find out what it took to earn the nomination from her classmates, and the mark Public Speaking has left on her.

Talk to me a bit about your decision to take the class and your journey throughout the term.

So I took the class because I was told there was no final exam. I was just trying to balance out my course load and figure out how to do that with kids and going back to school because I was still really new to the process.

And then the process of learning how to write a speech and then how to execute it was actually far more interesting than I thought it’d be.

What did you think about being nominated, and then about winning?

I was actually very surprised. And then I was grateful and also ungrateful in that I was like “I don’t have time to write another one of these and memorize it,” but I thought, it’s good practice.

Winning the award was a nice confidence booster. It was almost necessary at that stage. When I got the email that I won, it was at a really difficult stage in my life personally with my kids and what not and that was just like a nice moment in what was a really chaotic couple of months.

How’d you plan for the final speech?

One of the memorization techniques that was mentioned in my psychology class was the memory palace. And so I used that to memorize my last speech which was so helpful.

I memorized the speech walking through my house from room to room and each space in my house had a different component of my speech. So when I was giving my speech it was a lot easier because it had a flow to it … I feel it made the process far less nerve wracking.

Do you find you’re more aware of speaking skills in others now?

I am more aware of my hand gestures when I’m talking, because when I started I looked like an aerobics instructor from 1980. Which is really appropriate being the size of my hair typically.

I went to the Tedx Chilliwack, and it was very interesting watching the different speakers because they work with coaches and some of them were so on point and I can tell [they’ve] really dialed this down. I was so impressed — things I probably wouldn’t have noticed before … but now when you understand the number of things that need to go into that. And then the moments where they would forget you could see them stop and close their eyes and look for it in their mind … I know what that moment feels like.

Do you have any tips for the next round of public speaking students?

In terms of memorizing, the memory palace was key for me. And the other thing that I think helped was … I practiced in front of my video recorder … and then I would watch it. And then I would do it again and I would watch it. I would see where I stumbled or where I missed and then I would try to make those pieces more memorable.

And I would also practice in my car, anytime I was driving anywhere, it was repeat, repeat, repeat.

Looking toward the future, Liz dreams of opening a bed and breakfast one day and possibly combining that with her counselling focus into a retreat centre.

I actually just love making people’s beds and cooking them breakfast and telling them about the community and all the cool fun things there are to do.  

 

Puzzling over a Career in Communications?

Are you interesting in taking communications courses but not sure what you could do with them? At UFV, we offer both a Minor in Communications and a Professional Communication Essentials certificate. Completing a program in communications will teach you how to make and move messages within or between individuals, organizations, companies, NGOs, charities, societies, cultures, and media.

Professionals in communications learn to deliver ideas to public or private audiences.

What industries are looking for communications professionals?

Any organization that communicates with the public, clients, or businesses (such as corporate management, governmental management, policy producers, political and charitable interests) all connect with, influence, or inform individuals, clients, and strategic partners (often through the media).

Most large industries or corporate entities communicate internally, between departments, offices, or branches. Corporate communications and organizational communications professionals shape and move this kind of messaging.

What does a communications career involve?

Communications careers typically involve shaping the public or private/internal voice and identity of an organization through writing, webpage design, Audio/Visual, social media, and public/media engagement. If you’ve ever interacted with a company, a charity, a government, or an NGO, a professional communicator created the pathways, messages, materials, and the themes for that communication.

Communication professionals develop a “voice” for brands, products and companies. This voice is specifically developed to be appealing to the particular demographic that these brands, products and companies want to engage.

In what career field or industries do communications professionals work?

Here are some examples of various roles communication professionals find themselves in:

Business

Public Relations        

Advertising    

International Relations and Negotiations

Broadcasting 

Journalism (Print or Electronic)          

Theatre/Performing Arts       

Government/Politics

High Technology Industries  

  • Television / Film Producer / Director
  • Systems Analyst
  • Technical Copywriter

Communication and Health Care / Social Services

Think you like what you just read? Check out our communications course offerings by viewing the UFV timetable. For more information about the Department of Communications, visit the Communications website.