Tayler Shaw is a journalism student and an editor with the Media Innovation Center (MIC). Photo by Nick Mundinger (CritMedia'20).
For Delaney Schoenfeldt, one of the toughest parts of college was figuring out what she wanted to do afterwards.
Her road to graduation was a winding one, paved with trial and error and reshaped by moments of self reflection.
Four years, two majors and seven internships later, her work paid off.
In May, Schoenfeldt graduated as the College of Media, Communication and Information’s William W. White Outstanding Senior, an honor earned by the student with the highest GPA in the college. She did so with a hard-earned sense of clarity about what comes next, and the confidence to go for it.
"There are amazing resources at the school, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t act on them,” she says. “You have to take advantage of every single resource you have.”
When she began her college career, Schoenfeldt was certain that she wanted to work in the music industry.
A passion that began in middle school, her love of music took her to places from San Diego to London for concerts. Once in college, she sometimes attended two or three shows per week while completing a series of internships in the local industry. But after working everywhere from an artist management and booking agency to The Hill’s Fox Theater, she found herself facing a hard truth.
"I realized I didn't really like working in the music industry that much,” she says. “I just didn’t––and that was shocking to me.”
Rather than give up, she found value in the experience––information that could help her reinvestigate her own interests and abilities to ultimately chart a new path.
Personally, she’d been drawn to the creative freedom and capacity for storytelling that the music industry seemed to allow. And professionally, she was a strategic thinker with a knack for being media savvy. Those insights led her to continue studying Media Production, while adding on a second major in the public relations track of Strategic Communication.
"I think that everything needs a story,” she says. “If you want to get people’s attention, it needs to have a story. Whether that’s in advertising, whether that’s in media, whether that’s in public relations––you’re not going to get a public interested unless there’s some sort of emotional rollercoaster for them to ride on with you.”
After shifting her focus, Schoenfeldt landed yet another internship, this time with Circuit Media, a design and communications agency that serves government and commercial clients, which she connected with through one of CMCI’s career fairs. In June, she joined the company full time as a communication and multimedia specialist, a position created specifically for her.
In large part, Schoenfeldt attributes her success to her learned adaptability, and to the connections she made with faculty and staff––both of which she developed as a resident advisor (RA) and senior resident advisor (SRA), she says.
Schoenfeldt worked as an RA and SRA in Baker Hall during her second and third years. For her senior year, she returned as an SRA to Buckingham Hall, where she’d lived as a freshman and participated in CMCI’s CommRAP program. The experience allowed her to reconnect with professors she’d had early on.
"They make genuine connections with their students,” she says. “We’re not just people who come in through the door and leave in a year. We’re people who they’re genuinely trying to help as we find our passions and our future careers.”