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Two students helped NFL star’s foundation as part of communication practicum

Two students helped NFL star’s foundation as part of communication practicum

On Sunday, Feb. 7, the Carolina Panthers will meet the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, CA. For two Otterbein students, an experience during a regular season Pittsburgh Steelers’ game in November held just as much, and possibly more, excitement than any NFL championship.

The COMM 1550: Communication Practicum course is designed to give students real-world experiences in communication and public relations careers. Instructor Dan Steinberg has been running the program for about four years and has used his network of past students and professionals to create unique learning opportunities.

“It’s really about making lasting connections within the field for our students,” Steinberg said. “Those connections are extremely valuable post-graduation. We try to match-up the students’ areas of interest as best we can.”

Steinberg reconnected with Will Allen, defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and a former student of Steinberg’s at The Ohio State University. Allen was interested in having student interns help with his Will Allen Foundation initiative, The Big Play, a program that gives custom-made suits to young men for job interviews and other professional uses who otherwise might not be able to afford one. Two students stood out to Steinberg right away: Mackenzie Majeskie ’16 and Josh Plichta ’18.

Majeskie is a Carlisle, PA, native and equine business management major with a marketing minor. Plichta is from McCandless, PA, and majors in public relations with a minor in sport management. Both students are football fans and jumped at the opportunity to work for the NFL star’s foundation.

“We mainly would do candidate research and promotion for The Big Play, everything from writing press releases and managing Twitter and Facebook accounts to cultivating relationships with other non-profits like Pittsburgh youth groups,” said Plichta. “Most of our work was done remotely here in Westerville, but this just proves you don’t have to go far for big opportunities. This experience has opened a lot of doors for me I never thought possible.”

For Plichta, the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of his favorite hometown teams made the experience even more exciting. For Majeskie, who grew up a Green Bay Packers fan, the opportunity to branch out into a new area of her desired career was the most important aspect.

“I just started taking a few PR classes in spring 2014 and Dan Steinberg really encouraged me to get more experience outside of my major. Working for the Will Allen Foundation made me more comfortable with taking my first career steps. I now plan on taking a non-profit class which will only give me more options to consider.”

As part of a reward for all their hard-work at the foundation, Majeskie and Plichta attended a Steelers game against the Oakland Raiders in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Nov. 8, to see how all areas of communications and public relations come together at a large sporting event. Steinberg travelled with the students and proved once again how Otterbein faculty strive to create the best opportunities possible for their students.

“I had never been to an NFL game before so this was already so cool,” Majeskie said. “Photography is a huge passion of mine so I made a joke how it would be even cooler if I could befriend an ESPN photographer while at the stadium. Next thing I know, Dan Steinberg had not only found one but also introduced me to exchange contact information.”

“Dan, and other Otterbein professors, truly want to help students pursue their interests. I don’t think you’d find that at other schools as much,” said Plichta. “I had only been to one other Steelers game before this but to step back behind the scenes and see how to make such a large production run smoothly was incredible.”

Both Majeskie and Plichta made invaluable connections for their careers while simultaneously getting to enjoy the grand stage of professional football.

“That’s what’s so great about Otterbein,” says Plichta. “They educate you and help you grow.”

To see more photos from the Majeskie and Plichta's trip to Pittsburgh, visit the Otterbein Department of Communication's Facebook page.