Over the past few months, faculty and students in Full Sail’s Media Communications bachelor of science degree program have been hard at work ironing out an exciting new study series called Friday Blend. The recurring event brings together students in all areas of the program, and allows them to create and pitch media strategies for real clients.
“The intention of Friday Blend is to create a bigger sense of community within the Media Communications student body,” says Media Psychology Course Director Beth Strudgeon. “It also allows students to put into practice what they’re learning in the classroom, and develop some real industry skills.”
Here’s how it works. The Blend occurs in cycles of three Fridays at a time. On the first Friday of each new cycle, students are grouped into teams, and a client (usually a small business owner or similar) presents a problem or goal to the class.
A faculty-based group launching a comic book anthology, for instance, requested ideas for reaching potential readers and contributors. Another client, Entertainment Business grad Joanna Puello (among those pictured above), sought ways to gather financial and industry support for her non-profit World Upside Down.
“We definitely plan to bring in clients from the business world outside of Full Sail,” says Media Communications Program Director Kathy Craven. “But we also want to work with the idea of the school’s ecosystem – of helping students in other programs, or even course directors who are starting small businesses. I just talked to a Film student yesterday who wants help with a podcast idea. So he’ll likely be on the schedule soon.”
“It’s like a giant agency here,” she continues, “and they can take advantage of working with each other. Students in other programs can benefit from Media Communications, and our students can learn from those in, say, Film or Graphic Design.”
On the second Friday, students work together in their teams – though they usually meet outside of class, too. “Week two is my favorite,” says Beth. “You’ve got students in various points of the program – some at the very beginning, some at the very end. So it creates a natural mentorship. That’s actually been really valuable, to see how they support each other. And although I’m not necessarily interacting with them at this point, I get to see how focused they are. They fact that they’re really interested in the work speaks volumes.”
On the third Friday, the teams present their formal proposals, and the client picks his or her favorite. Proposals can include anything from demographic or distribution research to website templates and detailed social media strategies. The presentations are taped, which allows students to see how they’re individually progressing at communication and public speaking.
The overall goal of Friday Blend is not for the students to create an end product (like social media accounts or a website), but to create a solid proposal for how to implement such things. Of course, explains Beth, “If the client falls in love with the idea they can certainly contact the students and work with them outside the scope of the assignment. That way, a student can gain extra experience to put on a resume or project reel.”
According to Ivan Albino, a student who participated on a winning Friday Blend team before graduating in June, the series “allows [students] to practice skills in a real-world setting. We see the results, and see how interested the client is at the end of the day. It makes us feel that we’re doing something good. And why not remain in contact with the client? Who knows, maybe that could lead to more opportunities in the future.”