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Real World Career Preparation

A Guide to Creating a University Student-Run Communications Agency

Douglas J. Swanson

University student-run communications agencies allow students to work with real clients and get real world experience before they graduate from college and enter the workforce. Student-run agencies are increasing in popularity, but building a successful agency is challenging.

With more than ten years of experience supervising a student-run agency, Swanson examines the three critical roles a student agency must fulfill in order to be successful. First, the agency must be an exceptional environment for learning. Second, it must be a successful business—without satisfied clients, the agency will not survive. Third, it must be a supportive partner in both on- and off-campus communities.

As the first book to address student-run agencies, Real World Career Preparation offers extensive ‘how to’ guidance, and is supported by 22 Agency Spotlight best practice examples from student-run agencies across the U.S. The book ends with a comprehensive directory of 158 university student-run agencies in operation all over the world.

Real World Career Preparation is essential reading for any faculty member or administrator who is involved with an agency, or who plans to launch one in the future. This book is also valuable for college students working in an agency who seek ‘the big picture’ view of how their work for clients has long-lasting impact on the campus and the community.

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Chapter 17. Honoring Diversity and Inclusiveness


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Those who supervise student-run agencies have a moral responsibility and a professional obligation to assure that their students come away from the experience with a deep respect for other cultures and viewpoints. This respect should be evidenced in a number of ways. The agency should take a diverse, inclusive approach to recruiting clients to support its community. The agency should not shy away from clients that might be controversial; in fact, the agency should go out of its way to identify and solicit minority-owned businesses and underrepresented nonprofit organizations as clients.

Agency students should be educated to recognize and be respectful of different perspectives on race, culture, nationality, physical ability and sexual orientation. Agency leadership should not be afraid to tackle the difficult issues that arise as issues of freedom of expression are balanced with issues of promoting the greater good.

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