The future of our business

WKU PJ students listen in on the Career Day roundtable discussion during the 16th annual event sponsored by the WKU Photojournalism program in the School of Media at WKU.

On Friday, February 21, 2020 we hosted our 16th annual WKU PJ Career Day. Thirteen professionals from the region come in for the day to interview our Photojournalism program students for potential jobs and internships, but mostly to give many of the students an opportunity for “first contact” with the photojournalism profession and an opportunity to allow the students to exercise their interview skills.

As evident from this list, our alumni support is strong:

Albert Cesare – Cincinnati Enquirer (WKUPJ graduate)
Gary Hairlson  – St. Louis Post-Dispatch (WKUPJ graduate)
Joe Howell – Vanderbilt University (WKUPJ graduate)
Mark Humphrey – Associated Press, Tennessee
Brett Marshall – Kertis Creative, Louisville (WKUPJ graduate)
Patrick Murphy-Racey – Freelance, Knoxville
Marcia Prouse – The Tennessean, Nashville
Sawyer Roque – Kertis Creative, Louisville (WKUPJ graduate)
Steven Rosenberg – Chicago Tribune
John Russell – Vanderbilt University (WKUPJ graduate)
Sam Upshaw – The Courier-Journal, Louisville (WKUPJ graduate)
Mark Weber – Daily Memphian, Memphis (WKUPJ graduate)
Bryan Woolston – Freelance for AP, Reuters, and Getty, based in Louisville

Marcia Prouse, Director of Photography at The Tennessean in Nashville, listens as Lily Thompson, a WKUPJ junior, talks about her portfolio work.

Emily Moses, a WKUPJ senior, has her portfolio reviewed by Associated Press photographer Mark Humphrey.

WKU graduates Albert Cesare from the Cincinnati Enquirer (L), Sam Upshaw, Jr. from the Courier-Journal and freelance photographer and SONY camera ambassador Patrick Murphy-Racey talk with WKUPJ students during the roundtable discussion.

After a morning of interviews, we broke for lunch, then we conducted a roundtable discussion, where the professionals gave the students advice about how to prepare for a career in photojournalism while still in school, how to obtain employment, and tips on how to succeed in the profession once they enter it. We then resumed with interviews throughout the afternoon.

James Kenney started organizing this event 16 years ago because he said he heard too many  students say they were hesitant about reaching out to the profession because they didn’t feel like they were ready to do so. As a faculty and staff in the photojournalism program we feel the the sooner they make contact the better, and therefore the more directed (and committed) they will be toward their goals while navigating their way through the photojournalism program. The added bonus is that many of our students have directly benefited from Career Day, with many of them obtaining internships as a direct result of meeting with the professionals during this event. One professional who has attended the past two years, Sawyer Roque, was hired as an intern at Kertis Creative (a multimedia firm based in Louisville, Kentucky) as a result of an interview with the company during Career Day. After her internship was over, they hired her on full time, and now she is attending as a professional to mentor a new generation of future visual storytellers – full circle! Kertis currently has six of our Photojournalism program graduates working for the company, and many others from our program have interned and worked there over the years.

Sawyer Roque, a WKUPJ graduate, came to Career Day representing Kertis Creative to complete the full circle of student, intern, professional and now mentoring current students, like Grace Pritchett, a WKUPJ senior.

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