Prepare for success in your career
The most common career fields for communication graduates include: business, public relations/advertising, social and human services, nonprofit administration, arts and entertainment, government, international relations, education law, health, technology and media. While a degree in communication provides a foundation of knowledge and skills appropriate to a wide range or professions, you will need to consider carefully how you can tailor your broad education to specific jobs and industries. Internships, volunteer experience, elective courses and complementary majors or minors can play a pivotal role in your preparation for various careers.
The greatest advantage of a communication degree may be that it is broadly applicable, which may also be its biggest disadvantage. Because your degree may lead you into so many different careers, it is impossible for our curriculum to prepare you for one specific career path. We can show you where others have gone before you, but in the end you have to make your own way. Take advantage of every learning opportunity you have within the communication department and be proactive in seeking information about possible careers.
Make yourself more marketable
Regardless of the career field you pursue, there are several strategies you should use to enhance your ability to land the job you want:
Develop excellent interpersonal skills
This means more than just being a "people person." Persuasion, motivation, conflict management, relationship building, teamwork and leadership are all necessary and highly marketable skills. But you have to be able to do more than just study these skills or say you have them. You have to practice and develop them, and you need to be able to point to specific examples of when you have put them to work effectively. It is particularly important for you to be able to point to work, internship and class experiences where you have demonstrated these skills and, better yet, to have credible references who can attest to your skills.
Explore specializations within major and professional fields
Some of our majors, such as public relations and socio-political communication, have specializations built into them. Even in these more specialized majors, you need to explore specific jobs and their requirements. For example, within or related to public relations are areas such as publicity, marketing, development, sales, media analysis, and public opinion research. Talk to your professors and professionals in those areas to learn what you should expect and what you need to do to prepare yourself.
Choose elective classes to support internships in areas of interest
Implicit in this advice is the importance of completing an internship. You want to be as prepared for a particular internship experience as you can be. Our department requires that you be at least a junior before doing an internship so that you are more likely to have had sufficient coursework to prepare you for doing the work an organization might require of you.
Obtain experience through part-time employment, co-op, internships and/or volunteer experience.
Career counselors will tell you that experience counts for a great deal. The more job-related experience you can obtain, the better off you will be. And if you plan for these experiences rather than suddenly deciding in your senior year that you should do something, you will be better prepared to take advantage of them.
Get involved in campus activities and professional organizations
Campus organizations are great places to develop your social, organizational and leadership skills. They also can be a great way to network with people who could someday be instrumental in helping you find a job. Professional organizations, in addition to exposing you to professions associated with your degree, often offer opportunities for networking, meeting professionals, internships and access to job placement resources. On top of that, involvement in organizations looks great on your résumé, especially if you have held positions of leadership or responsibility.
Develop team skills
Small group and team structures are the norm in today's organizations, and your communication training gives you the perfect opportunity to prepare for success in these areas. You may grow weary of the group projects that seem to appear in nearly every one of your communication classes, but these are opportunities to develop skills that are highly marketable. Don't just survive your group projects; maximize them.