PR Student: Cloud He
This article was produced in cooperation with the COMMS 425 lab.
Bridget Reynolds Sheffer who specializes in politics in media and communication issues in the technology industry was hired as a visiting instructor in June. Prior to coming to BYU, she spent four years researching communication conflicts in technology companies and how those conflicts could overcome by communication specialists.
“She brings valuable experience and scholarly perspective to the School of Communications, particularly in her area of expertise dealing with web development firms,” said Ed Carter, the director of the School of Communications.
As the technology industry grows explosively in Utah, communication jobs in tech firms are prevalent. Earlier this year, Forbes named Salt Lake City the next “tech mecca”. Sheffer’s research highlights the big communication gap between the jargon-filled technology team and the rest of the organization.
Sheffer explained further, “Communication conflict arises when software developers with really specialized knowledge, like scientists, need to work with a designer, who try to make things look really beautiful. But they don’t speak the same language.”
More tech organizations are looking to hire communication specialists to communicate their technology in the way that stakeholders can understand. Sheffer used the metaphor of a translator who could bridge this communication gap and thus reduce conflicts in the tech organization, which help the company run smoother long-term.
Before coming to BYU, Sheffer taught in New Zealand, where she is working on her Ph.D. and other schools in the United States. She is teaching a class on Mass Communications and Society and an introductory course to News Media at BYU until the end of 2017.
While here, Sheffer’s goal is to connect with students and to make sure they acquire the skills they need as they continue to move through the School of Communications. “It’s been such an incredible and different experience. I love to incorporate the gospel and pray in my classroom… The student body is very anxious to do good work, and that’s very exciting and impressive.”
In addition to helping her students, Sheffer is eager to learn and become a better person and instructor. She was very impressed by the amazing support the school has provided. “All universities have that teaching and learning center to help faculty to become better teachers, but here at BYU, they really go above and beyond.”
“In the School of Communications, we try to support faculty via professional development opportunities during on and off-campus conferences,” Director Carter said. “We are planning to send Sheffer and two other faculty to an assessment conference in Indianapolis in October to receive some training and bring back valuable learnings.”