Communication degree gives graduates the advantage in job searches
By Melinda YohoCCI Intern
Even in a turbulent economy, communication studies graduates have advantagesin job searches, according to George E. Cheney, Ph.D., professor of communicationstudies at Kent State University.
Cheney spoke at the School of Communication Studies Spotlight on Senior Scholarsevent during which 50 communication senior scholars were recognized for theiracademic success. The event was held Nov. 4 in Taylor Hall.
In his speech â€œNow what am I going to do?â€ Cheney said while employmentopportunities for communication studies graduates donâ€™t generally â€œpop up in thewant ads,â€ most employers recognize the importance of communication.
â€œThereâ€™s an incredible diversity of careers where communication is central,â€ said theauthor of eight books and more than 90 articles on communication.
Because employers may not know what communication studies means, graduatesmust be able to explain what it was they studied, Cheney said. They should not listthe titles of classes they took, but rather classify the types of knowledge areas andskills they have attained into â€œterms that are meaningful for people in a variety ofsectors.â€
Graduates must also proactively promote themselves to potential employers,Cheney said. They should explain why they are a good fit for a job, or they can evensuggest a new position be created for which they would be the perfect candidate.
Cheney said that many people in business and politics are calling foran "entrepreneurial spirit" from their employees, in a manner parallel to how weuse the term in general. He encouraged the students to embrace that spirit and thepossibilities it suggests but at the same time recognize the many ways we are allpart of webs inside organizations and in society as a whole.
Cheney referenced sociologist Mark Granovetterâ€™s paper, â€œThe Strength of WeakTies,â€ explaining that connections with people that students wouldnâ€™t normally talkto can be crucial for fostering new ideas.
â€œBecause when we hang out with just our friends or people just like us, and weâ€™refinishing each otherâ€™s sentences, and things like that, can be a lot of fun,â€ Cheneysaid. â€œItâ€™s very comfortable. Do we learn much? No.â€
Cheney encouraged the students to look for careers through which they couldimpact the world around them. While he listed a number of fields, he emphasizedhealth communication and environmental communication because they areboth â€œoriented directly toward problems in the world.â€
Graduate school is another option the students should consider, Cheney said.Students can even combine graduate studies in communication with work in aparticular profession or graduate work in another area, providing them with abroader perspective of what they could offer to the community.
Graduates need to think about their strengths, goals and priorities as they decidewhat to do post-graduation. Cheney recommended reading the book What Coloris Your Parachute? to help students determine what is important to them. He alsorecommended learning about careers that students have interest in by shadowingpeople in their job or interviewing them.
â€œItâ€™s just as important as ever to pause and think about what you care about, whatyouâ€™re good at, and to quote Frederick Buechner, who was an American theologianand writer, â€˜to find the places where your deep gladness meets the hungers ofthe world,â€™â€ Cheney said. â€œAnd those are the ways that you can see how you canaccomplish what you want to do, and at the same time be of service to the world.â€
Rebecca W. Cline, Ph.D., professor of communication, organized the event. JeffreyT. Child, assistant professor and undergraduate coordinator for the School ofCommunication Studies, moderated. The program included success storiesfrom communication graduate alumni Bethany Frampton, Jason Sabo and David Westermann. Frampton is a multi-media project specialist for the Center ofContinuing Education at the Cleveland Clinic. Sabo served an internship as a projectconsultant for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in summer 2011. Westermann is an electronic medical records support technician for Summa Health System.