March 10, 2022

Building Active Connections between Students, Alumni, and Media Professionals

By Mechthild Schmidt Feist

Having worked in the fields of design, animation, and broadcast motion design for many years before joining DAUS, I build bridges between the academic classroom and the hands-on practitioner by leveraging my professional network and experience. In the Bachelor of Science in Digital Communications and Media program, students are introduced to different workflows, fast-paced deadlines and communication structures that exist in the industries they seek to join or advance in. Students get actively involved and learn to speak directly with professionals to create an immersive experience and start a personal connection. I build different opportunities for these interactions into all my classes and want to showcase three examples. 

The students’ continued favorite is the interview assignment in Media History. Teams of  students contact, schedule and conduct an interview with a senior media professional. This experiential learning project’s responsibilities range from introductions to communication with all involved, to handling a live interview. Having someone  talk about their professional history makes media history very relatable. In addition, Google Hangouts–and now Zoom–affords us global access to speakers from institutions such as BBC London, Cinémathèque Française, Palace Museum Beijing, and award winning creative directors and independent journalists here in New York City.  

Allan Wai

Allan Wai (Head of UX/UI at NBC) interviewed by Bianca Jeanniton, Jiacheng Yu

As impressive as 20 or 30 years of experience are, on the other end of that spectrum, students also connect to young designers–their peers and graduates from our DCoM program– who have recently made the transition into their profession. For the most recent DCoM Alumni Panel in November 2021–supported by the SPS Alumni office–we had these DCoM alumni join us from Silicon Valley, New York, Santiago/Chile, and London:  Abdalla Emam DCoM ‘14,  Founder and Head of Design @Quam; Shaiza Merali Ducatl ’14, Director/Principal at Duvilex Capital; Paolo Minguzzi ‘16, Director of the BSF Corp.; Addison O’Dea ’16, Film Director/President of Cartography, Inc. 

The instantly reestablished camaraderie between current students and recent alumni was wonderful to experience. The students were pulled into the easy atmosphere and felt reassured when they heard about twists and turns and job changes some of the alumni went through. Students also sought advice and interview do’s and don'ts from alumni who had only recently faced the same questions.

DCoM Alumni Panel

In Senior Project: Industry Mentoring and Portfolio, students are assigned to a one-day shadowing experience in a media company such as NBC, The Studio, Etsy, or I Heart Radio to experience a real day of creative production, client interactions, or meetings. It is an eye-opening experience even for those already working in the industry as it affords a day into the specific culture of an organization. 

During these past two COVID-19 years, I found meaningful alternate solutions to what previously had been in-person experiences, like group and private one-on-one portfolio feedback sessions with media professionals. The virtual capability of the Zoom talks made it easier for critics and guests to join us. The initial introductions and subsequent one-on-one contact help students gain confidence and begin to see themselves as professionals. 

Apart from the exposure to different media careers, I enjoy facilitating new connections for students that they can maintain for future questions or updates on their work.

DCoM Senior Project

Ending Senior Project on a light note with a pet talk after feedback from Animator Michael Scott Hull and Screenwriter Gabrielle Kelly


Clinical Professor Mechthild Schmidt Feist leads the Bachelor of Science in Digital Communications and Media program as its Faculty Coordinator.

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