Advice from Dean Davis

by Lucy Respess

Charles N. Davis is currently the dean of Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He has been serving in this role since 2013, following a long career in journalism. Dean Davis shares his advice and offers wisdom about being a student in Grady. 

Q: What would be the biggest piece of advice that you would give to a student starting in Grady?

A: Invest. You’ve got to reach out and become a part of things here. This place is full of resources, people, contacts and alumni. They’re not going to come get you, you’ve got to go get them. You’ve got to get your mind into a consumerist model; you are now an active consumer of your education. 

Q: What do you think the future of communications looks like? 

Dean Davis poses in the hallway of Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A: Every industry that our college serves are all in chaotic change right now. I don’t know what part of the continuum we’re at, but we’re in some part of the continuum with regard to digital transformation from legacy media systems to what comes next. But, what comes next is yet to be determined. One day we’re going to be able to build this huge timeline from legacy media institutions, newspapers, public relations agencies and all these sort of institutional things that served us very, very well until the digital age. The walls of separation between disciples are disappearing. They haven’t disappeared, but they’re disappearing. I think I can look out into the future into a world that is much, much more interdisciplinary.

Q: Is there anything students can be doing now to give them an edge when entering the workforce? 

A: Get involved in actual content creation. I don’t care what it is; it doesn’t make any difference. It can be associated with a club or your local hometown newspaper. You can shadow a PR agency or intern somewhere this summer. It doesn’t have to be big. You can intern at a ma-and-pa boutique ad agency in Acworth, GA and that will be a great experience which you then will use to build your next experiences. So don’t wait. I am always preaching that. 

Q: How do you recommend that prospective Grady students find the major that’s right for them? 

A: One cheap and easy answer to that question is to take my class. I teach an eight week class (JLRC 1001) every semester called Career Explorations in Journalism and Mass Communication, which is just a one-hour, eight week class. In it, we go over every single aspect of the college – all the majors, certificates, study abroad, field study programs, etc. It’s good for students, particularly students that are lost. I think the other thing that is very helpful is that if you have an inkling about a field of study then reach out to me or anybody in the faculty. Get a name of somebody and hit him up on LinkedIn and jump on the phone or zoom and spend some time with them talking about what their work looks like. Shadow, if you can. That teaches you more than anything else. 

Q: What is the best way to make sure you get the most out of your time in Grady?

A: My advice, which some people argue with, is to find that thing that you want to get deeply involved in and get deeply involved in it. Don’t treat Grady like a salad bar. Pretty soon you’re giving six different things 5% of yourself, and that’s not terribly helpful to the organization or you. I think it’s much more helpful to drink very, very deeply from one well and become a leader. 

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your job? 

A: Watching students come through here and grow and enter the world and thrive, without question.