2012 Communication alumna Birchfield on choosing USC: “This is where I’m meant to be”

In a “Connect Interview” on burnyourresume.com, recent alumna Ailie Birchfield (B.A. Communication ’12) said one of the reasons she chose to attend USC was because she could see herself fitting in with the university’s culture.

“The students seemed so genuinely happy to be there,” said Birchfield, who has already worked or interned in publicity or public relations at Paramount, Slate PR and Viewpoint. “It was an amazing campus, and it was sort of that feeling of like, ‘This is where I’m meant to be.’ I think I had to consider and visit multiple schools to know what environment would be best for me. Everything that they offered was something that I was looking for.”

Birchfield did not start out as a USC Annenberg student, but she quickly changed her major. During the second semester of her freshman year, Birchfield said her adviser suggested that she take a communication course.

“The class was called ‘Media and Society’ and I fell in love with the course,” she said. “We discussed and studied the application of people using media to get a message across. We had people like Warren Beatty, Oliver Stone, Alan Alda, Norman Lear, Arianna Huffington, Julia Louis-Dryefus, Maria Shriver and other amazing guests talk to our class. I realized that what we were talking about, in relation to the entertainment industry, is what I wanted to pursue, versus the economics side of the industry. I changed my major that same semester and never looked back.”

She credited the USC Annenberg Career Development and International Programs office for keeping her updated on internship and job opportunities during college and beyond.

“I was big on internships during college and that is in large part due to the staff at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism – they sent us a daily email with internship and job opportunities. They have a whole career center where you can go talk to them and they’ll bring recruiters on campus. I remember meeting with recruiters from great organizations such as ESPN. You have to be proactive and take advantage of the opportunities through USC but there are plenty of opportunities and I was eager to get involved.”

She said seeing 21 USC Annenberg students hired by NBC Sports for its 2012 Summer Olympics Internship inspired her to branch out in her internship search.

“When the Olympics were around, NBC chose USC and two other schools to find interns to go to London,” she said. “I didn’t do it because I was not interested to go into sports but it was those sorts of things that made me realize that I wanted to get out and get real world experience.”

Her advice to college students: “I think I would say, don’t be closed-minded and try everything. Try as much as you can and be a sponge. Ask questions and know that finding out what you don’t like is just as valuable as what you do like.”

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