Groundhog Day provides students with shadow opportunities

Groundhog Day is upon us, and people are eagerly waiting to see if winter is nearing its end or if we’ll have another six weeks of it. Groundhog Day, held on Feb. 2, originates from German customs brought from Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Mercyhurst College Communication Department has come up with its own way to celebrate Groundhog Day—by having its students participate in a shadow day.

On Wednesday, a dozen communication students will be excused from classes to shadow a local professional working in the communication field.

“The communication department chair, Dr. Anne Zaphiris, pioneered this event three years ago for her students to gain hands-on experience in the communication field,” said Hilary Mando, the department’s graduate assistant.

“The date just happened to fall during the winter term, which led her to pair it with Groundhog Day. Besides, what better way is there to celebrate the groundhog seeing its shadow?”

Students will be shadowing local organizations and professionals such as:
– Erie Community Access Television’s (CATV) production coordinator
– Erie Insurance’s Strategic Marketing Department
– Mercyhurst College’s Public Relations/Marketing director
– The associate director of public relations and the director of corporate communication at Eriez.

“We hope that it will ultimately prepare them for the next step in their careers,” Mando said. “This is a great networking event for students as well as a chance for them to practice how to act appropriately and professionally in a work environment.”

The shadowing opportunity is both an exciting and highly educational experience for communication students. They will have a chance not only to experience what it is like to work in the communication field, but will have a chance to explore the area most interesting to them.

One of the students participating, senior Kristen Ribelli, will be shadowing at WJET-TV with weekend Sports Anchor Ken Brown, as well as the main sports anchor Craig Smylie. Ribelli’s dream job is reporting at athletic events, so the shadowing opportunity was a particularly exciting one.

“We see the sports on TV, but what really goes into it? I hope to gain great insights and tips from professionals who have had experience in this field and can teach what goes into being a knowledgeable sports reporter/anchor,” Ribelli said.

Another participating student, sophomore Aaron Loncki, will be shadowing LECOM’s marketing department.

“Classes only show you so much,” Loncki said. “I don’t know exactly what path I want to take, but I’ll know it when I see it.”