Journalism and the City: Communications Major Rebecca Piattelli

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Rebecca Piattelli is a senior Communications major and Business Administration minor from Rome. After spending a semester abroad at the New School in NYC, Rebecca is doing a journalism internship at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas – The Angelicum in Rome, under the direct supervision of media relations consultant Carmen Luisa Coya. 

Rebecca Piattelli

Rebecca Piattelli

What brought you to JCU?
My love for languages and my interest in different cultures brought me to JCU. I attended a Liceo Linguistico (foreign language-based high school), but ever since I was a child, my biggest wish was to attend an American school. I have always been fascinated by people who speak many languages and I have always wanted to live in an international environment. I think that having friends from different countries really opens your mind and widens your cultural horizons. Furthermore, I didn’t really like the Communications program that Italian universities offer because I found it very theoretical, while I think that the practical aspect is fundamental in this field. When I learned that there was an American University in Rome where students could build their own educational paths by choosing a minor and classes that merged both the practical and theoretical aspects of communications, I had no doubt that JCU was the best decision for me.

What do you think is the most useful aspect of studying Communications today?
I think studying Communications is very useful today. Unfortunately, many people, especially in Italy, underestimate the importance of this major and do not understand it fully. Rather than technical skills, I think that soft skills are what really make the difference today. At a time when artificial intelligence is growing fast, what differentiates us and makes us better than robots are our soft skills. Our attitude, adaptability, and our communication skills are what make us stand out from the other people who are applying for a given job and have the same education or professional background. I believe the communication industry is growing tremendously today and that this major offers a wide range of job opportunities.

How do the Communications and Business fields come together?
This is a question that people often ask me. In reality, your minor doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your major. I know people who study International Affairs and are doing a minor in Art History, for example. I think the minor has to be something that you really like. I chose Business Administration because I have always been interested in the management aspect of companies, and I think it is important to be aware of the dynamics that regulate the job market. Also, all of the Business classes that I have taken so far have much in common with the communications field, such as Social Networks and Media Management and Business Communication, so I think it is crucial to have a certain knowledge of both fields.

You studied abroad in NYC at The New School through JCU’s direct exchange program. Please tell us a bit about your experience.
Studying at the New School was the best decision that I have ever made, and I will be forever grateful to JCU for giving me this opportunity. I was lucky enough to be accepted with two of my friends. We rented a tiny apartment in the East Village and left in August for the best experience of our lives. We went through so many adventures together and learned to adapt to challenging situations such as dealing with mice in our fourth-floor walk-up apartment. Studying at The New School helped me to understand that journalism is the path that I want to follow for my future working career. All of my professors were also journalists working for publications like The New York Times, Politico, and Vox. I really learned a lot from their experiences and being in their classes was a privilege.

Life in NYC is crazy, everybody is so active and busy, and you just feel the need to do things when you are there. There is an exciting energy in the air and staying at home is impossible. I strongly recommend it as an experience. I am speaking especially to Italians: we need to open our minds, challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zone. While living in New York City, I realized that there are so many different realities that I ignored, and I understood the importance of living in a multicultural environment. Studying abroad not only pushes you to be totally independent, but it also helps you understand who you really are, and become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s a tremendously big life-lesson that helps you grow.

Has being part of the Orientation team helped you grow in any way?
Working as an Orientation Assistant has definitely enhanced my communication skills. Helping incoming students and providing them with information and tips made me more confident and gave me the possibility to get to know and work with amazing people. I think Orientation Assistants have a key role as a point of reference for new students. Who better than current students can help and give advice to other students? Most importantly, being part of the orientation team strengthened my JCU pride and made me even more grateful to be part of the JCU community.

What class has given you the most in terms of personal enrichment?
Definitely Public Speaking. I am a very shy person, and at the beginning of my first semester when my advisor suggested that I enroll in a Public Speaking class, I was very scared. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than giving a speech in front of a bunch of people in a language that was not my own. The idea of having everybody’s eyes on me made me extremely anxious. When I was in high school my friends used to call me “traffic light” because I always turned red when teachers asked me questions. Today, thinking about how shy I was less than two years ago makes me smile. Even though Public Speaking was a nightmare for me, I know that it really challenged and pushed me beyond my limits. Today, I am much more confident when I am in front of an audience and I do not experience the same amount of stress and anxiety as before, and sometimes I also find it funny! I have learned to control my emotions and now I take every opportunity to talk in public to improve and challenge myself.

What are your plans for the future?
My future working career is something that makes me a bit nervous. I still don’t know what I am going to do after graduation, but I know journalism is the path I want to follow. My biggest dream would be to go back to New York City, continue my studies there, and find a job. For now, I am looking for an internship for this summer.

What advice would you give to incoming JCU students?
To new JCU students, I would suggest choosing a major they are truly interested in. Don’t listen to people who say that you have to study economics or finance to make money. Follow your dreams and passions and don’t be afraid to change your mind. It takes courage to change your major and take a different path, but if you realize that you are studying something that you don’t care about, you can always reconsider. Take every single opportunity that JCU offers to grow and challenge yourself. And, of course, take advantage of the chance to do a semester abroad!