Casey Parker is thrilled to be getting hands-on, career-related experience through Suffolk’s new Advertising, Public Relations, and Digital Media Department, launched this semester.

“This department is helping me to become more focused on my PR skills, because I’m actually working with clients in the community,” said Parker, a senior public relations major.

Students learn by doing through experiences such as working on an ad campaign for a class client, designing a website, planning a public relations or social media campaign, crafting messages for print and online media, and advocating for a cause through a non-profit agency.

“I’m working specifically and in-depth in my field while being mentored by professors in a small, tight-knit environment,” said Parker. “We all have a similar focus and a similar goal.”

Preparing students to confidently enter the professional workplace is a top priority of the new Advertising, Public Relations, and Digital Media Department, known on campus as ADPR. The curriculum emphasizes individual skill building as well as learning through teamwork.

Sophomore Alex VanHeusden said the new department “gives students real-world opportunities while still in college. I think it will help me find a better sense of myself and opportunities that I can connect with.”

“Our job as faculty members is to provide our students with a state-of-the-art, cutting-edge education that leads to careers in advertising, public relations, and digital media,” said Bob Rosenthal, chair of the new department. “That’s what we are here for.”

Today’s students must be versatile as they communicate through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—the communication channels that “students love and where they live,” said Rosenthal.

With companies doing everything from blogging to sending out tweets, “students have to be knowledgeable about how to communicate through social media platforms in order to achieve their educational and career goals,” he said. With social media and technology evolving so rapidly “we have to continually keep up with all the changes.”

The department emphasizes faculty mentoring through its IntraMedia program, according to Professor Jane Secci. Designated faculty members will direct student teams working on group projects that showcase their professional interests and abilities. These assignments include short-term communication projects for the department and for class clients. They tap a wide range of skills, including social media, content design and management, photography, event planning and promotion, and forensics.

“Students wanted opportunities to try their hand at advertising, public relations, and social media tasks outside of the classroom and wanted achievements to include on their resumes,” said Secci. ”This concept has enormous potential.”