Allen Garcie was looking for a way to bring students and professionals together. He and the other members of the American Advertising Federation of Shreveport-Bossier (AAFSB) decided to start the commNEXT Conference, in the hopes of filling in the gap between the classroom and the job market. “We wanted a way for students to really understand what it was like to work in the fields they have been studying,” he said.

Garcie is an assistant professor of web design at the Louisiana State University Shreveport’s Digital Arts Department. Year after year, he became discouraged as his top students fled to Texas in Search of Jobs. “There are plenty of opportunities here in Shreveport, but I don’t think a lot of my students realized that”. Two years ago the AAFSB created the Agency Crawl, where students were invited into several businesses that worked in digital media. “It showed the students what kind of jobs they can apply for after graduation.” The Agency Crawl was a success and saw 40 students attend. The following year, as word spread, that number more than doubled to 90 students.

The Agency Crawl was a good start, but Garcie started to get feedback from previous students who felt they didn’t have a good idea of what it would be like once they did find a job. “A lot of the students are young, and have never had a job and have lived with their parents while in college,” he said. “What we decided to do was create the commNEXT conference, to give students a better understanding of what it is like to be in the workforce. The conference aims to it take away some of the unknowns about what it’s really like to work in digital media.”

The commNEXT Conference will feature speakers from several different local businesses representing different disciplines of digital media, including; web design, graphic design, marketing, public relations, and journalism. Industry experts will be giving the students seminars and taking questions in hopes of providing some much-needed education and clarity. Students from LSUS, BPCC, NSU, and anyone interested or currently working in digital media are encouraged to attend.

Tickets are avaiable through eventbrite. It’s $25 dollars for students and $30 for non-students with lunch provided for all attendees.