How StratCom prepared me to start a new job during a pandemic

By: Sierra Medrano, 2019 MSU StratCom graduate

No matter how experienced you are, first-day nerves of being the newbie at work are going to happen. There’s the stress of first impressions, learning organizational structure and establishing your role. Oh, and let’s toss in starting a new job during a pandemic and working remotely into the mix! Thankfully, I’m two months into my new job as a Communications Representative with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division and I can happily say that the welcoming messages and virtual meet n’ greets have felt as genuine as if they were in person.

When I came across the job posting for the position, I immediately knew I had to apply. Over the past six years fishing has become a hobby of mine. And for the past nine years I have been working within the communications profession. It's not often when a hobby and a career collide!

On my first day of the new job, a department leader asked, “What’s a master’s in strategic communication?” As a proud StratCom alumni, I smiled and began talking about the various courses and certificate programs. It wasn’t too long before the conversation turned into a discussion about how it’s more than just a program – it’s a community. It’s a community of people who care about the words and tactics they use to develop a strategic message to their audience. It’s also a community of people who care about each other. On countless occasions I’ve read and participated in group threads of students and alumni asking for help and insight on current projects or issues they were managing. Unlike other groups, it wasn’t crickets that were heard. Instead, it was the #SpartansWill spirit that rang through with responses, examples, and resources at the requester’s disposal.

Starting a new career remotely has some challenges, but I credit the StratCom program for preparing me to think creatively and strategically to overcome barriers. As a predominately online program, I was already acclimated to virtual meetings and self-discipline to get assignments completed at home. I knew the challenges I would face on balancing work and home-life. I knew what my distractions were and how to not let them get in the way of my day-to-day work. With the StratCom program as part of my background, I have been able to sufficiently adjust to starting a new job remotely from home.  

It’s been almost two years since I graduated from Michigan State University’s StratCom program and I continue to be an advocate and recruiter for the program. The benefits I have gained from the program go beyond learning about best practices and tactics. It has brought me confidence, perseverance and a community of established alumni who are always willing to lend advice and solutions.