Out on a WIM: Mizzou Women in Media rebuilds to increase membership

WIM revamped its constitution and organizational motivations to better suit the priorities of members.

Mizzou Women in Media has followed the same pattern since it was founded in 2015: Attendance spikes after fall kickoff each year before tapering off. By the end of 2019, only three members apart from the executive board consistently attended meetings.

WIM is an organization geared toward women in fields such as journalism, strategic communication, digital storytelling, theater and other industries relating to the media. WIM seeks to inform its members about opportunities available to them in the media fields and provide them with information to help them succeed in their professional careers.

Jessica Blake, one of WIM’s co-presidents, noticed the downward trend. Like many other social organizations on campus, WIM hosted game nights and get-to-know-you events. While organization leaders were pleased with the large turnout at fall kickoff, they noticed participation dropped off as they scheduled subsequent events.

“The leadership team had lost its cohesion and its unity,” Blake said. “As a result, we had much lower attendance.”

With their faculty advisor, the WIM executive board concluded they would suspend activities at the start of the spring 2020 semester to rewrite the organization’s constitution.

Throughout this process, WIM remained an active organization in the eyes of the university. Executive board members met regularly to refine the purpose of the club and revamp its administration.

Avery Wecksler, WIM’s other co-president, said she knew WIM had a promising future.

“I joined Women in Media because I felt like it was an organization that had a lot of potential,” Wecksler said. “When I joined it wasn't as strong as I thought it could be, and I'm the kind of person that when I see something that's broken and needs fixing, I like to fix [it].”

Wecksler and Blake led WIM’s revamping. They started with leadership roles and, with the consent of the other board members, established themselves as co-presidents. The president and vice president’s duties overlapped significantly, so this change streamlined the organization’s leadership. To Wecksler and Blake, they said it only made sense to eliminate the sense of supremacy that accompanies those titles.

Now, the co-presidents take on responsibilities of equal importance. Blake handles the marketing and social side of the club while Wecksler manages other logistics — mostly event planning and scheduling.

After leadership roles were settled, the executive board focused their attention on rediscovering WIM’s purpose. Blake and Wecksler agreed that the original constitution needed improvement. After analyzing trends within the organization regarding types of meetings and attendance, a solution became clear to the executives: WIM needed to focus on professional development rather than social activities.

Communications Chair Megan Rubenstein recognized the need to spotlight professional development at meetings.

“Our events were focused too much on social-type events rather than events where people can really learn important information,” Rubenstein said.

Now, WIM meets monthly over Zoom. After the organization’s kickoff event, WIM hosted a resume building workshop. In October, the club hosted a meeting geared toward finding an internship. The next meeting, which is scheduled to happen on Nov. 19, will offer tips on mastering virtual interviews.

Rubenstein and the other executive board members said they are pleased with this year’s turnout. She noted that about 20 to 25 people attend each meeting.

In December, WIM plans to meet virtually to discuss anti-racism in the media. This event comes as part of the organization’s initiative to highlight inclusion and diversity.

Despite changes to the organization’s structure and constitution, WIM has left its popular mentorship program intact.

The mentorship program was created by WIM’s founders and serves to match current members with MU alumnae and other professionals currently working in different media industries. WIM members fill out an application to be matched with a mentor. Once pairs are created, it’s up to the mentors and mentees to connect with each other. Blake said students can use this program in a variety of ways to benefit their future careers. Some students connect with their mentor for strictly professional advice while others cultivate more personal relationships.

The co-presidents said about 40 students applied for the mentorship program this year. All of them have been matched with a mentor.

Looking forward, the WIM co-presidents said they will continue to adapt to its members’ needs and interests. The executive board members said the organization is constantly evolving, and Blake is optimistic WIM will continue to thrive under its structural changes.

Edited by Sophie Stephens | sstephens@themaneater.com

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