With the explosion of social media, video, digital media and creative ways to tell stories, it is an exciting time to be a communications major. The communications field is a really broad field, with various avenues to explore. For example, my university offers majors in:
- Strategic Communications
- Cinema & Television Arts
- Communication Design
- Media Analytics
- Sport & Event Management
I am currently a strategic communications major, which is the largest major at my school. While it’s harder to define strategic communications, the major prepares students to enter fields such as public relations, advertising, marketing and corporate communications. But as all these fields are mixing together and overlapping with new media technologies, we use the broad term of “strategic communications.” Overall, there are many ways to pursue a degree in communications and many of the majors provide you with similar skills to succeed in school and beyond. So how do you succeed as a communications major?If you are thinking about majoring in communications or building your professional experience, these tips are for you!
1. Find your community.
Surround yourself with like-minded people pursuing a communications major, who are driven by success. Also, it’s an awesome idea to get to know your professors and other advisors with the communications department. This is one of the first steps to networking. Get to know the people in your classes and make some time to hang out with them outside of class, either for study purposes or for fun. These will be your people who will deliver coffee and cookies to you during a late-night campaign project or a long night of editing. Here is why community is so important for creative professionals specifically!
2. Ask questions.
Communication is all about conversations, and conversations can’t happen without questions. Take some time to come up with good questions to ask in your classes, when talking to professionals in your field or when applying to an internship.
3. Define who you are and what you do.
Know how you are valuable to a company and what skills you can offer. While it can be hard to do this, take some steps to learn how to brand and market yourself. It’s all about personal branding in today’s world–and this takes place through resumes, online portfolios, writing samples, etc.
4. Resumes, portfolios, oh my!
Speaking of resumes, it’s always good to keep an updated list of your experiences, organizations, skills and relevant coursework throughout your college years. I’ve found that keeping a Google Doc of a running list of everything I’ve been completing in college is so helpful to stay organized. I then cut and paste experience to my resume to cater it to each position I apply for. I expand on my experience and offer examples of my work in my online portfolio.
5. Join communications organizations and student media.
Whether that is a newspaper, yearbook, radio, magazine or TV station, these opportunities help us practice our skills outside of class, often in a fun, enjoyable environment. On campus, I’m a part of the yearbook staff, which has led me to opportunities I couldn’t have asked for. I also work at a student-run communications agency that helps me gain real client experience and expand my creative skills in so many ways. These have definitely been the highlights of my college experience!
6. Take advantage of career services and networking opportunities.
Last semester, I heard a speaker who graduated from my school who now is a producer for major Youtube stars. He talked about social media and online presences, which was very helpful, but also super relevant to college students just getting into the world of communications. I also have been able to get advice from career advisors in the communications school to give me good direction with my post-grad explorations. It’s so important to take advantage of all the resources we have as students!
7. Start building your online presence.
Start a blog or a Youtube channel. Become a pro at LinkedIn. (Check out 5 Things You Need to Know About LinkedIn—a post I wrote for ProSky!) Develop a branding statement to use across all your social media channels that relates to your career goals. Have a friend or photographer take a professional headshot photo for you. Start developing content online–share your story. This can show future employers that you are a driven, self-starter and you also develop your skills for classes and future positions. In the end, nothing is better than using your skills and passions to tell your own unique story. Building a blog has done wonders for my understanding of the media and strategic communications world.
8. Become comfortable with group projects.
The number one thing I do in college is group projects. Whether it is working together on a video or putting together a PR or advertising campaign, work as a communication major is always collaborative. Staying organized with these group projects is important, and realizing that it takes time to meet as a group is also necessary in order to avoid procrastinating on semester-long assignments. If you like to be organized and lead groups of people, don’t be afraid to step up and lead. Learn how you work well with others and how to get along with people who are different from you.
9. Apply for all the internships.
While not all internships are the same, having as much experience as you can in the workplace will help you build your resume and help you in your classes. Try to find some internships or jobs that interest you, first and foremost. Or you can also gain experience through online courses or alternative educational programs.The #1 Tip for Communications Professionals? Don't be afraid to do something different. Click To Tweet
10. Don’t be afraid to do something you’ve never done before.
As communication majors, we are in a very exciting field, where technology is changing and new things are happening everyday. We are in a very creative field, so let’s not be afraid to do something we’ve never done before. To reach out to new people and stretch our creative limits. Whether it is acting in a video (which was semi-terrifying when I did it one time) to building a website or writing an e-book or applying to a dream internship, these are all worth the fear and the hard work. You have the guts. You have the skills and the experience. And you were made to communicate powerful stories that change people and that change the world.
Related Post: 10 Ways to Challenge Yourself as a Blogger
So let’s do this, fellow communications majors and professionals! Let me know what other advice you have received for making it in the world of communications.