Washington State University Communications - Kyla Emme

by Kelsey Szukhent

This interview is with Kyla Emme, a communications major at Washington State University, expecting to graduate in May 2017. We recently spoke with her and asked her about her experience within her program and what she's planning to do with her professional future.

What has your experience in the program been like at Edward R. Murrow College of Communication?
I’ve had a very positive experience in the program. I remember meeting my advisor Joe Hewa for the first time at orientation and immediately feeling like I was in good hands. The advisors have done everything they can to help me get a schedule that meets all my requirements, to offer and connect me to scholarship/internship opportunities, and to let me know that my hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. I love that the advisors and professors have really shown an effort to get to know their students so that they can better teach them and maximize their potential in the college.

Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?
I was also considering Penn State (University Park) and the University of Washington (Seattle). I had some great options to choose from, but WSU was definitely the full package. I liked that it was close, but not too close to home. I am from Western Washington, so I wanted to be on my own but still have the option to make the road trip if I really wanted to. I liked that it was more affordable than the rest, and it offered good financial assistance besides loans. Probably the biggest factor, besides the fact that the Murrow College has been nationally ranked before, was the feeling of being at home at WSU. I love the pride that every Coug exhibits on a day-to-day basis; it was like a condensed version of the Penn State pride I was really drawn to. I like that, as much as we have around 20,000 people on campus, everyone feels like family. As much as I miss my house and my family, I always end up missing my home and family here in Pullman. Cougs are excited to be here and to be together.

Kyla Emme

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in Communication?
My Papa got me interested in photography when I was in elementary school, and I’ve kept that interest ever since. When I was in high school I watched a story on the CBS Evening News about a military photojournalist named Jeremy T. Locke. They showed some of his work on the broadcast and I was totally moved in seeing it (sadness, anger, a little bit of every emotion). Combining his influence with my on-going hobby, I felt that going after a career in photojournalism, and a major in journalism only made sense. 

What is your favorite class so far, and why?
I really enjoyed this class called “Reporting Across Platforms.” It was a prerequisite to all my broadcasting classes, but I liked it because I was finally learning how to create multimedia content for the web. I got to learn different programs beyond Windows Movie Maker and I was able to see my skills improving with each project. 

What is unique about the nature of your major’s classes?
I think my major is unique in that we honestly don’t seem like we’re taking actual classes. We are out-and-about recording video of events and interviewing people for stories. We are learning how to make infographics and memes for homework. Most of it isn’t traditional schoolwork. But that is all a part of our constantly evolving technical world. Everything is changing so we have to change with the times in order to stay ahead in our field.

What are the best ways to network with your peers within your major?
I’ve found that I’ve been able to network best through just turning to either side of me during class and starting a conversation. While seeing everyone in other places, like internships and clubs, does help, I think that people often ignore the best opportunity to network each day. Especially when someone is certified in their major, they will be seeing the same faces in almost every class.

Have you participated in any internships?
Last semester I worked as a volunteer student assistant in my school’s athletic communications office, and I am continuing in that position this semester. I found out about the position during a guest lecture in one of my communication classes, and I applied as soon as I could. I love getting to meet the people behind all the teams’ media accounts and really, their whole reputation. I get to help run the social media accounts and I get a behind-the-scenes look into how they interact with other media outlets during events. 

I am also in a marketing internship with the College of Education this semester, and I found out about this position through an email thread that the Murrow College sends out every week. Just after my first day I think I’m going to have a good time. I’m already on assignement to write about some research going on at the school, and I have future assignments that will give me opportunities to shoot photos and video and tell some really great stories.

As far as finding school resources to help me find more opportunities, it is quite easy. During orientation our leaders and lectures remind us several times of where to look up scholarships online. Like I said earlier, the Murrow College also sends its students links to both specific opportunities and to resources to better search.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?
I would love to get a job as a foreign correspondent with CBS. It is important to me that I become well-travelled over the course of my lifetime, and I would love to make an impact by sharing stories from places people don’t even know of. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of this area of study, and was this something you had originally anticipated?
It is a huge time commitment. News is 24/7 now, so that means I have to be on my game 24/7 too. Beyond actually putting packages together I need to be caught up on current events and educated on how to us different tools. It really wasn’t what I had originally anticipated. I didn’t picture a 9-5 job, but I didn’t picture 24/7 either.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field?
If you are going into communications you really should go into college with top-notch writing skills. You can’t avoid writing.

Is there anything you wish you had known about this major ahead of time before choosing this career path or anything else you would like to share?
Being a journalist takes a lot of courage. People don’t always like to hear the truth. People don’t like to be lied to. You’re always going to disappoint someone with whatever you write/produce, even if you have the best intentions, so you should share stories honestly and to the best of your ability – and hope people are informed. 

How are you financing your education, and what are your most helpful online resources or tools?
I’ve paid for school with a mixture of the Post-911 G.I. Bill, scholarship, a college fund and personal income. The VA Department here at WSU was very helpful and quick to respond to any questions I had concerning my benefits earned through my parent’s service in the military. The Murrow College was the same in that they were continuously in contact with me in order to ensure that my scholarship was received and I understood how to maintain it. My go-to resource for any financial questions is (surprise surprise) the WSU Financial Services; they are willing to answer questions and assist you as much as they can.

What resources or information would you like to help you think about your career that you’re not currently getting?
I’d love to know more about how to get my foot in the door. I always hear “It’s all about who you know,” and while I do understand that I can’t help but wonder –- what about us people who don’t know anyone?

What is the best piece of advice related to your field of study that you have received?
“Journalists are jacks of all trades, but masters of none."

Kyla's Reading List:

  • Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden - It sounds weird, but I think it is a wonderful piece of journalism. You can see how the writer really did his research when it came to finding out the events of the ambush from both American soldiers and Mogadishu locals. I liked that he addressed the different perspectives because I know for a fact that certain things would’ve been left out in the media just because of prejudices toward Muslims specifically. 

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