Monday, January 30, 2017

Connecting Students with Industry Professionals

AnnMarie Manzulli pictured with her Spring 2017 COM 3440, 
Advanced Public Speaking, course students

Advertising agency owner, executive producer of a multi-media, marketing program, and senior designer for a Fortune 500 company are among the positions listed on the résumé of Senior Lecturer of Communication AnnMarie Manzulli. She joined Hawai‘i Pacific University in 2009, bringing a robust portfolio of industry experience and knowledge to share with her students.

Teaching a range of classes in the Department of Communication — from 1000-level courses up to the Capstone course — Manzulli enjoys starting with a cohort early and being able to work with them throughout their few years at HPU. She encourages students to think long term, considering their skills and strengths — copy writing, design, production, quantitative — against what it takes to succeed in the respective communication specialties. 

“I look at students like a talent scout would, and I run every class like an agency,” she said. “To me, (my students) are clients and staff at the same time. I want them to develop skill sets and know where they fit in this world and if it’s right for them.”

In Manzulli’s classes, it always come back to application of theory. Her typical class includes a short lecture followed by group work, which may be brain storming or role playing exercises.

“I’m a big believer in hands-on learning,” Manzulli said. “Especially in advertising, marketing and PR, you can’t stay theoretical. At some point you’ve got to be able to apply it.”

While she has a syllabus and deliverables for each course, how she executes the course and reinvents it every semester is determined by the students and their interests. Manzulli’s objective is to make course content relevant to each student. 

“The point of the exercises and lessons is to transfer it back into the students’ lives to where they can apply it elsewhere,” she said. “We talk about how (it relates to) being a successful business person or getting a good job, or what do people look for when you’re interviewing.” 

For Manzulli’s students, course work may extend beyond the classroom. In Fall 2016, Manzulli — in collaboration with Associate Professor and Cinematic Production Program Chair Peter Britos, Ph.D. — focused work for two of her classes around the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF). Receiving full press passes to attend international press conferences, the students engaged in experiential learning.

“We had a series of deliverables for the HIFF project,” Manzulli said. “The students interviewed, saw film and did reviews, did social media postings and wrote up (their work) and posted on the HPU at HIFF web portal.”    

Through community partnerships such as HIFF, Manzulli is able to observe her students in action, providing her insight into how next to challenge them. Additionally, the students are exposed to industry professionals they might not otherwise get to meet.

At the 2015 HIFF, Manzulli met the staff of the public relations firm HIFF retained and inquired if they were interested in student-intern support. Manzulli introduced them to a student with the skill set they needed for the film festival. The student ended up getting the internship for the 2015 festival and was called back to help in 2016. It was a win-win situation.

“I like being able to be that bridge between teaching students the ropes and help placing them in the field,” Manzulli said. “I’m a connector. That’s my favorite thing to do.”

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