Students Gain Real Experience Helping to Create Latest Kent State Commercial

Three Kent State University students gained valuable video production experience by working on a new television commercial produced by the university as part of the new spring campaign.
When University Communications and Marketing (UCM) created the 30-second commercial to highlight the achievements and impact of Kent State, its producers turned to UCM’s student workers to help bring that story to life.

Senior digital media production major Madison Milhous, recent digital media production graduate Jason Cox, ’18, and recent photojournalism graduate Zac Popik, ’18, all worked on the television spot’s production last fall.

“It was nice to be able to work on a commercial for my university,” Mr. Popik said. “I liked being able to do it for Kent State because it felt like I was giving back.”

Jon Jivan, ’08, a new media specialist at UCM, directed the commercial and was happy to have students help out on set. Mr. Jivan believes it is important to include students on projects such as this one, because it gives them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience using professional-grade equipment. Those opportunities, he said, can be difficult for students to find.

“Not only do we need the help, but the students want the experience,” Mr. Jivan said.

The production team was working on a short timeline, but the staff and students pulled together to get the job done on time, he said.

“It’s a brief, four-day experience,” Mr. Jivan said. “But it can be as valuable as an internship to any student looking to break into the industry.”
Students had to balance classes, study time and other school assignments with their work on the commercial.

“I had to split up time between going to class and then going to work on the commercial,” Mr. Popik said. “Since we did it during the first week of classes, I just had to grab my gear and go meet the crew at whatever location they were at.”

Ms. Milhous, student videographer and editor, described the experience as “just another day on the job.” She was ready to help out on set each day and was prepared for each of the four days that she worked on the commercial.

“It was comforting to walk onto a set with people who actually know you,” Ms. Milhous said.

About 70 people were involved in the production of the commercial. Mr. Jivan and new media specialist Nathan Tranbarger,’17, who served as director of photography for the commercial, worked directly with the students and the rest of the crew.

“Truly, the crew was one of main reasons I wanted to work on the commercial again – just behind the experience and knowledge that comes with working on an actual, professionally run set​​​​​​,” Mr. Cox said.

The students agreed that working on Kent State’s commercial gave them an advantage in their future careers, because they gained experience working with high-end recording equipment, a key skill needed in their chosen fields.

“It’s another opportunity to put on my résumé,” Mr. Popik said. “Experience is more important than the portfolio. You have to back up your portfolio with experience, and I’m happy that it was through Kent State.”

Mr. Jivan said he was pleased to be able to offer an opportunity to students that was not available when he was a Kent State student. Providing engaging and experiential learning opportunities for students also is part of the university’s Student’s First mission.

“I would have enjoyed working on something like this as a student,” Mr. Jivan said. “But inviting students on set to help with university commercials is a recent development. Up until this year, all commercials were shot by outside production companies.”

The students were equally pleased with their experience working with the Kent State’s production crew.

“I loved every moment of it,” Mr. Cox explained. “It was so refreshing and educational to be on a professional set with people who are extremely talented at their craft.”

The finished commercial can be viewed at

POSTED: Friday, February 1, 2019 01:35 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 06:28 AM
Alexa Marco