An Interview On
University of Florida

Background

Interview Date:February 2019

Gender Identity: Male
Race/Ethnicity: White
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: A public school in New Jersey with a graduating class of about 360 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Public Relations with a concentration in Business
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: I’ve worked for the homecoming parade, member of the UF chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, I’m part of Accent Speakers Bureau, the Dance Marathon, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), I work for the student-run PR firm in the College of Journalism called Alpha Productions, I’ve held multiple roles in my fraternity, am I’m an ambassador in the College of Journalism.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
Dance marathon has provided me the most personal growth. It’s for a great cause, and you meet a lot of people who are inspiring, both those dancing and most importantly the kids. You’re working for a cause bigger than yourself, which is the main goal. Sharing all the stories about the people who go through hardships that are more difficult than yours is humbling. In terms of professional growth, I’d say the Accent Speakers Bureau has been great. Working for the student-run PR firm in the College of Journalism called Alpha Productions has provided me a lot of real-world, hands-on experience.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for Public Relations?
I’m taking three online classes this semester, so I don’t have any exams. It’s a lot of online work so you have to self-regulate and make sure you’re putting in the appropriate amount of time for everything you’re involved in. In a couple of classes, you have a project that is built throughout the semester. You have a marketing presentation at the end, that’s built up from a bunch of different assignments along the way.

What was your favorite class in your major?
VIC 3001, Sight, Sound and Motion. It focuses on editing, some graphic design, and goes through the Adobe Creative Cloud programs. We did interesting stuff like cutting video and making sure audio and video tracks lined up. It’s very applicable to real life.

Is there anything you feel that the Public Relations department does especially well or poorly?
It cares about its students and wants to see them get involved. The professors do a good job of putting you in the right direction based on your area of interest. Sometimes people get the perspective that at a big school like Florida you may not get that tailored experience, but if you approach a professor they are more than willing to help you find your passions. There is nothing especially bad. I know at a big school some things get lost in translation, which I have experienced a couple of times. This could be emails not getting replied to, or a lack of communication overall. In person, the professors are very helpful.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s very competitive. I think the majority of students are competing to hold these high leadership positions in organizations. Academically, it’s competitive but also collaborative, and the people you get to know the best are those in your own college. For me, I’ve gotten to know a lot of really cool people in the College of Journalism, and we all work together to succeed.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
Very accessible. It’s up to you if you get close with your professor. You can get super close with them if you go to their office hours. They are willing to speak to you, and it’s what you make it out to be.

Why did you pick Public Relations? Are you happy with your choice?
I was originally a Journalism major but switched over at the beginning of the year because I knew I didn’t want to just do print journalism. I felt my skill set was more multi-platform and I had some interest in graphic design and content creation. I felt like I had skills that more aligned with PR than blog writing per se.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Broward Hall with one roommate.
Sophomore: Fraternity house with a bathroom separating my roommate and I.

How was transitioning from New Jersey to Gainesville, FL in terms of location?
I’d say I have a very unique experience because I traveled a lot over the summer throughout my high school years, so I think I was more adaptable to change. It’s scary at first, but then you settle in. What’s nice about Florida is there’s a small population from New Jersey and New York, but the more you meet, the more you’re put into this community of kids from the Northeast.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
It’s very safe. I’ve walked back from home from many places on campus and have never felt in danger. The campus is pretty well lit, and if you’re on campus grounds, you’re fine. The only time you’d maybe feel unsafe is if you’re not on campus like in Gainesville somewhere.

What are the pros and cons of being located in Gainesville, FL?
Pros:
1) It’s a tight-knit community.
2) Familiarity. You get to know the area, and it’s nice having your go-to places for food, haircuts, and knowing where everything is.

Cons:
1) Sometimes you feel like you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. It’s a bubble, but a fun bubble.
2) As an out-of-state student, if I need to fly home the cheaper flights are in Orlando or Jacksonville which is an hour and a half or two-hour drive away, so it’s bittersweet.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Florida?
Florida is transitioning into a big bar school. Greek life is on the edge, but it still exists. Where I’ve had the most fun is in either in downtown or midtown, at a fraternity function or just going out with my friends.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
It depends on what your social calendar looks like for the week. I may have a fraternity function on Thursday, so I may not go out the night before. Taking Greek life out of play, you can pick and choose what days you want to go out on from Wednesday to Saturday. You typically won’t go out all of the days unless you want to.

What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
People associate with each other the same way they would during the day. People in the same social circles tend to stick to those circles when they go out. [About 22% of UF undergraduates are part of Greek life.]

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I’ve done a bunch of cool stuff that’s not the typical going out. I like going out for dinner and a movie, and there’s a lot of cool spots in Gainesville for dinner. Orlando and Jacksonville are close by, and you typically know people from Orlando, Jacksonville, or Tampa, so the opportunity to stay over at a buddy’s place one night on the weekend is a possibility. I’ve been to a Magic game, and the Florida vs. Georgia game is one of the biggest of the year.

How happy are you with the weekend options at Florida? Is there anything you would change?
It’s good. During the workweek, you’re typically busy with meetings and class, but on the weekend, you get to experience whatever you haven’t been able to. This could be going to the cool new restaurant downtown or hanging out with your friends. I typically try to reserve my weekends for stuff like that, so I’m not stuck in the library all day. I try to cram during the week then unwind and decompress during the weekend because that’s what I feel is most efficient, and gives you a mental break. The work is tough, but if you give yourself a break to reset it keeps your brain active.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
My freshman year dorm. Three or four of my friends from this dorm joined the same fraternity as me. Aside from the friends I met in my dorm, most of my friends are in my fraternity or the other organizations I’m in.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Florida?
My experience is that it’s pretty much Greek life orientated. I feel there are very few times I’ll do something socially and Greek life isn’t associated with it.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think Greek life could be more diverse. It’s primarily Caucasian, and there is also a case to be said that it takes a certain amount of privilege and fiscal flexibility to join a sorority or fraternity, so that could be a factor. Races mix from time to time. I don’t think my friend group is particularly diverse, but it’s what I said before the Greek life is primarily White. [The undergraduate population at UF is about 57% White, 15% Hispanic, 7% Black, and 7% Asian.]

How would you describe the student body?
They are driven. It’s competitive but collaborative, so students are competitive with each other but want to see everyone succeed. It has a community feel to it because everyone understands that things get super busy and that we are here for each other. People study together a lot, and the library is a big social hub when people aren’t going out.

How do you like the size of your school?
I love it. I’m really glad I picked Florida over a smaller school. At first, people think that going to a large school is intimidating, but your social circle gets super small. I can walk through campus and see five people I know within any given time. The student body size is great. [University of Florida has about 36,400 undergraduate students.]

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes and no. There are resources to get internships and jobs that I’ve heard are particularly helpful. I personally haven’t utilized those to the fullest extent because I found an internship another way this summer.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I went to have a resume critique for my Introduction to Media Communications class, which shows students how to utilize resources on campus. They showed me how my resume could be improved and how it could look better to prospective employers.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
Adobe Creative Cloud. UF students get it at a discounted rate, and it stays good for a year. I’ll have to renew it, but it has all the programs we need for my major or anyone in media.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Florida before you entered as a freshman?
I would wake up every day and try something new such as trying to meet someone new. That’s what I would say to myself because in the fall I was a little sheltered. I was pledging a fraternity, but I didn’t have the drive to try new things. Join a club or try something you don’t think you’d like, because at the end of the day you only have four years of college.

What is something somebody interested in Greek life should know that we haven’t touched on?
A lot of students get caught up in social hierarchies of which fraternities and sororities are good or bad. The main goal should be to join a group of individuals who align with your values and stand for the things you believe in. Try to focus on how the people around you will make you into a more well-rounded individual.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
They tour you around the main campus where a lot of stuff is. I think the cooler end of campus is where the sports stadiums are lined up.

Reasons to attend Florida:
1) The resources are vast. You can get involved with anything you want to, which is something you may not get at other schools.
2) Everyone is super driven, and it’s inspiring. Everyone working hard makes you work hard.
3) The sports are awesome here.
4) Saturday’s during football season.

Reasons to not attend Florida:
1) If you’re someone who is dead set on knowing every person at their school. If they enjoy the big high school experience of knowing the two or three hundred kids and not knowing other people then go for it.
2) Location. If you want to go to a school more so in the city, Gainesville is not the place for you.
3) If you want a small campus. It’s manageable and not terrible, but there are times you are walking 20-minutes across campus.

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