A Transformation from COM Student to Staff Member
Friday, February 21, 2014
By: Emily Foulke
Many students view graduation as an opportunity to move away, start a clean slate and begin a new path of life. For Rebecca Burleson, staying in Wilmington and continuing her career by the coast seemed more appealing. “I wasn’t ready to leave Wilmington yet. I was willing to go to a bigger city, but I definitely wanted to stay a little while longer,” Burleson said. As a student, Burleson became involved with Media Production, a branch of the Office of University Relations, by participating in various student organizations such as Teal TV and working camera operations for basketball games. Starting as a production assistant for Housing and Residence life, Burleson got her foot in the door and eventually moved up to a full time position as a Media Technician for University Relations.
In her current position, Burleson assists the Communication Studies department by managing media equipment and performing equipment demonstrations both inside and outside the classroom. She also helps with broadcast for the Seahawk Broadcast channel, assists with the scheduling for the program and controls the maintenance behind the scenes. Burleson’s job responsibilities also include fixing any problems that occur in the control room for basketball games and other live performances. Working with various different departments and facilities has become Burleson’s favorite aspect of the job. Burleson states, “I get to consistently be challenged and do something different every day.”
Burleson’s time in the COM department proved valuable and assisted in her success in the professional world. Working with the media equipment as an undergraduate gave Burleson a unique perspective and understanding of what students expected and she was able to transform these expectations into actions. By managing the equipment, Burleson was able to create a checkout and return procedure and online tutorials geared directly towards students.
Upon graduation, Burleson felt fully prepared for any career because of the variety of classes offered in the COM department. The hands-on atmosphere of the classes increased her knowledge of the subject and would become useful in her professional career. Burleson considered her Capstone course one of the most useful classes to help her succeed in future careers. She gained knowledge in interview skills, making phone calls, and preparing her resume and portfolio. When the time came for her first interview, Burleson felt prepared. “I felt like I was ready for it. I had all my tools with me. I just had to know which ones to pull out,” said Burleson.
Transitioning from a student to an employee at UNCW was an interesting change for Burleson that took time to adjust to. In addition to learning how to dress appropriately and act professionally, she also had to learn how to write professional emails and make business phone calls. “It was my first time being out in the real world as a professional with a degree and I only had a few months to change my habits,” Burleson said. Since Burleson started work soon after graduation, she still felt like a student because of the small age gap between herself and some of the undergraduates she worked with. Recently, she has grown into her position and feels more professional as new students enter each year. Burleson explained, “Being separated from the student pool makes it easier to get to know the faculty and staff on a more professional level.”
Even though it took time for the complete transition from student to UNCW employee to occur, Burleson is thankful for her time in the Communication Studies department. She is confident that the tools and guidance the COM department provided assisted her success as a professional. Burleson urges students to take full advantage of all the amenities and resources provided in order to gain experience before graduation. “I would encourage students to get involved as much as possible to gain hands-on experience that will help in your future career,” said Burleson.