UWF students play integral role in Social Security Administration pilot program
Seizing the chance to work with Pensacola's District Social Security office, in partnership with U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller's office, University of West Florida students from the Department of Communication Arts received the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a real world situation. After months of research, UWF students helped create an information campaign to increase awareness of the Social Security Administration's secure and convenient online services.
Seizing the chance to work with Pensacola’s District Social Security office, in partnership with U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller’s office, University of West Florida students from the Department of Communication Arts received the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a real world situation. After months of research, UWF students helped create an information campaign to increase awareness of the Social Security Administration’s secure and convenient online services.
“I could not have asked for a better experience,” said Melissa Aiken, communication arts major. “The SSA office took the time to make sure that we understood every aspect of social security and they were never too busy to meet with us or answer any questions we had. This was a great opportunity to create something that could possibly become a pilot for a national campaign.”
Spanning two semesters and two different groups of students lead by Rick Scott, lecturer of communication arts, the students determined that a campaign that included print publications, speaking engagements and partnerships with local businesses and organizations would be essential for the SSA to get their message to the public and draw more people online. Aiken played a key role in providing continuity, bridging both groups of students and staying with the project throughout the year.
“These students truly rose to the occasion,” said Scott. “From the very beginning they were eager for the opportunity to get this kind of experience volunteering and getting involved. It was a great way for students to get the chance to partner with a real client with real needs.”
Students also worked in conjunction with Birdwell Photography and Multimedia, a Pensacola advertising agency who created the creative materials and Web site for the SSA.
“It is so rare that students get the opportunity to join forces with someone like Jane Birdwell of BPM,” said Aiken. “I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. She is a trendsetter in the Pensacola community.”
Although the Web site is still in the beginning of implementation, the SSA is pleased with the outcome of the project and the program has the potential to also be used as a region-wide pilot program to increase online usage.
“This Web site provides us with the ability to meet the growing demands of the Baby Boomers while continuing to service that segment of the population that cannot use the Internet to do business with Social Security. Retirees and disable individuals will not have to leave their home to access their benefits,” said Charles Hildebrand, Social Security Administration district manager. “We are excited about utilizing this new creative tool to serve the needs of customers.”
Helping the SSA with the stepping stones to bring more people to their online services, the experience has provided an opportunity for UWF students to utilize their skills to develop objectives and strategies.
“I feel like we offered SSA a new perspective, as well as valuable research and tools.” said Aiken. “Through this project we have all become more experienced in creating a campaign for a client, made amazing contacts in the community and taken away something tangible for our portfolios.”
For more information, contact Rick Scott at (850) 474-2360 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications