Solid writing skills, a strong curiosity, and an independent spirit are invaluable for a career in communications says Amy Callahan.
Professor Callahan, program coordinator of NECC’s Journalism/Communication Department knows well of what she speaks. An award-winning journalist and editor long before she stood in the front of a classroom, Professor Callahan was a correspondent for The Boston Globe, and staff writer for the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram and the Vineyard Gazette. She also worked in public relations for Columbia University and the University of New Hampshire.
Each position gave this Merrimack Valley native valuable insight.
“I have loved being able to combine my love of writing with my curiosity about the world and my desire to do something meaningful,” she says. “I also have an independent spirit, which is virtually a requirement for being a good journalist.”
All her roles led to her current vocation – teacher.
Armed with these writing credentials and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Northeastern University and Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Columbia University, Professor Callahan began her teaching career at NECC in 2000.
“Introduction to Mass Communication is my favorite class to teach,” she says. “I love exploring the reasons behind why most of my students know a lot about Miley Cyrus and very little about, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Professor Callahan says she teaches media literacy to her students and raises their awareness about making informed choices in mass media consumption; which, she acknowledges, is not an easy task.
“The stakes are high in this matter,” she says. “A successful democracy requires citizens to be informed.”
What makes communications, journalism, and mass media exciting is the same thing that makes it challenging to teach, according to Professor Callahan.
“The ground is always shifting,” she says. “The pace of change is swift”.
She is unabashedly hopeful about the future of the industry.
“Don’t believe the myth that careers in journalism and mass media are dying,” she says. “In fact, college students – as “digital natives” – have a great advantage as they enter careers in this overwhelmingly digital industry.”
Many of her former students, after transferring and earning their degrees at top four-year communication programs, have gone on to successful careers in television, newspapers, the movie industry, public relations, and corporate communications.
There is no mystery, she says, to a positive communications career.
Professor Callahan says, “Work hard, write well, read everything, behave ethically, and believe in yourself, and you will be successful.”