Sometimes the link between a degree in Communication and a job is blurry and the industry can be overwhelming – the career paths are boundless with options like public relations, journalism, marketing, social media, TV and film production, community management, and more. But the Communication Leadership program has an almost 100 percent success rate with students finding jobs after graduation.
Beth Koemans (B.A., UW Informatics, 2002), who graduated from Comm Lead’s Digital Media track in 2012, found more movement in her career after furthering her education in the MCDM program.
“While I was in school I had several different jobs that were only possible through the MCDM program – I could explore everything I was learning in class and immediately apply it to the work I was doing,” she said. “One job was being a consultant for a social media agency helping clients analyze different activity on their social media channels. I conducted sentiment and social data analysis that resulted in a more targeted and successful digital advertising campaign.”
Koemans also worked as a business analyst for a startup, and did some independent consulting work with a photojournalist who was also in the MCDM program to practice real-time social engagement during large events.
Although working full-time, going to class, and having a young child at home for two years was difficult, her MCDM degree set her apart when applying for a senior spot on Boeing’s web integration team (now the digital strategy and analytics team).
“There wasn’t a connection at all between MCDM and Boeing, but the reason they hired me had everything to do with my digital media degree,” Koemans said.
That was three years ago, and Koemans said she still uses the skills she learned through the MCDM program every single day – whether it is producing digital media strategy and advanced analytics, project management, measuring community engagement, or understanding the basics of digital media law.
“Everything that you would think would come from a 100-year-old company was happening – all their corporate communications revolved around the press release, print advertising and other traditional media engagement tactics,” she said. “As social channels were brought on board and the website became the home of highly engaging interactive digital stories, the company began exploring new ways for even more people to learn about Boeing’s people, products and services. With this expansion and transition to digital, there was a lot of work to be done, which is one of the reasons I took the job. I felt like they were moving in the right direction and I had something to contribute.”
With just under a million followers on Facebook and 235,000 on Twitter, one of Koemans’ main tasks is to use analytics to drive content, leverage social channels, and find out what kind of content engages people.
Koemans was a part of the Communication Leadership Fellows program during the 2012-13 school year and continues to work with and mentor Comm Lead students, and assist with teaching efforts.
“It’s all about that full circle,” she said. “When I was in school, I felt like I only had those connections because of the people who were in the program or who had recently graduated from the program, and who were working in a field that was very relevant to the degree that they just got.”
During the economic downturn, Koemans saw many of her friends taking jobs that had nothing to do with their degrees, but she said the program gave her a step up through networking opportunities and staying connected.
“Every time, it is an easy choice to give back to the program in the same way that was given to me,” she said. “I like being a matchmaker – if I see a beneficial connection that can be made, I try to make it happen.”
Although understanding that grad school is a big commitment, Koemans encourages her friends to apply to the Comm Lead program (two are starting in the fall) because she says the time put in is well worth it.
“The exchange for that time and money is that you are immediately connected to a network of leaders and professionals,” she said. “You can’t walk into any Comm Lead class and not be inspired – everyone in the room is doing something really cool as a professional or even as a burgeoning entrepreneur. It takes a lot of different backgrounds to make the program as good as it is.”