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Washington State University Communications - Spencer Anderson

by Kelsey Szukhent

This interview is with Spencer Anderson, a communications major (and sports management minor) expecting to graduate from the Washington State University in May 2017. We recently spoke with him about his experience within his program and what he's planning to do with his professional future.

What influenced you to pursue a degree in communication?

When I was in middle school, I played football in 7th and 8th grades. I was too small and not athletic enough to continue playing competitive football at the high school level, but I did become pretty interested in the after school broadcasting class. In this class/club, a small group of students were able to put on a 3-camera webcast at each of our home football and basketball games. We even did other sports like wrestling and volleyball. I had the opportunity to be the play-by-play announcer for my three final years of high school, and after the second year, I decided that play-by-play broadcasting was what I wanted to make my career. It was then that I decided to go to Washington State University and study Broadcasting in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

What has your experience in the program been like at Washington State University?
I have been pleased with the extracurricular activities offered here at WSU. Through programs such as KUGR Cougar College Radio and WSU Sport Crew, I have been able to cover countless Cougar athletic events for the student radio station, as well as help out as a utility or talent stats for the Pac-12 Networks whenever they come to Pullman to put on a broadcast.

Were there other schools you were considering?
I never truly considered another school, though I did go visit Brigham Young University, where both my older sisters and mother graduated from. Their communication and broadcasting departments were impressive, but I chose to come to Washington State because of the reputation of the Murrow College within the Pacific Northwest, as well as because it was much closer to my hometown, the Tri-Cities.

What is your favorite class so far, and why?
Media Law has been my favorite class so far. I took it last fall, and my professor, Beth Hindman, did a fantastic job of making First Amendment law interesting and relevant to daily life as a student, but also from the media’s perspective, too.

What is unique about the nature of your major’s classes?
One thing I find unique about my major is how in a classroom setting, we can stay professionally relaxed. What I mean by that is because a lot of my classes are in computer labs, surfing the internet and social media for ideas for stories or marketing ploys is encouraged, with the hope being that the classroom setting can be like an actual newsroom setting.

What has been the most challenging aspect of this area of study, and was this something you had originally anticipated?
Probably the most challenging aspect of the study of communication for me has been learning how to manage digital technology. I am not extremely literate in digital tools, such as Photoshop or Illustrator, and I was frustrated when I was learning this software because the class was mostly online where we were taught by online tutorials, and my in-class TA was Chinese and it was very difficult to communicate with her when I had questions to ask in-person.

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?
For the most part, everything I have learned about this major is pretty much what I expected it to be coming in. I have learned that just being a broadcaster isn’t going to cut it, and I’ve had to expand my field into marketing a little bit too in order to get myself some more relevant skills that will be essential to possess in an entry-level position.

What are the best ways to network with your peers within your major?
Clubs are the best way to network with my peers within my major. Currently, I am serving as the Sports Director at KUGR Cougar College Radio.

Have you participated in any internships?
I recently concluded a three-and-a-half week digital media internship with the Seattle Seahawks. Originally, I was not going to apply back in April when it was posted because it appeared to be a full-year internship, but Laura Dubowski, my sports journalism professor, nominated me to be recommended to the Seahawks by the Murrow College at Washington State. The just-for-training-camp internship was uncommon to be had at the Seahawks, but I loved my brief time there, learning more about how a professional sports organization handles their digital media and being able to network with professionals on a daily basis.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?
I will graduate this spring with a degree in Communication, after which I intend to begin working immediately for a sports organization or media company, or fulfilling an internship with either of the two above options.

What is the best piece of advice related to your field of study that you have received?
The best piece of advice related to my field of study that I have received is to always be prepared, and to prepare more material for a broadcast than you will actually use on the broadcast.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field?
I would tell someone who was trying to break into this field to always say yes and not to limit themselves by saying no to opportunities they don’t feel like or want to try out. I have learned so much by breaking out of my comfort zone and volunteering to do some things I wouldn’t ordinarily do, such as write articles on high-profile student-athletes, or take marketing classes that aren’t necessarily related to my major.

How are you financing your education, and what are your most helpful online resources or tools?
Between a mixture of lots of scholarships and parents who planned ahead early in my life to put money away each month for my education, I will graduate college with no student loans or debt.

What resources or information would you like to help you think about your career that you’re not currently getting?
I will be applying to the Murrow Scholars program later this month, and that potential resource is being able to actively communicate with a Murrow alum in the field that I am trying to break into. The one-on-one tutoring or advising has been missing from my experience at WSU so far.

Spencer's Reading List:

  • You Can’t Make This Up, by Al Michaels -- This book is important to me because what Michaels does is what I aspire to do someday. In this book, basically an autobiography, he tells a lot of stories about himself, but also a lot of stories and tips about what it takes to get where he is.

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