MSU StratCom student finds positive correlation between coursework and career

By Marc Rodriguez, MSU StratCom student who is pursuing a media analytics certificate 

I learned a new language recently—one that was foreign, frustrating at first, a little scary.

After taking Evaluation Techniques for Working Professionals, a course in the Michigan State University StratCom program, I learned how to critique correlation, deliver data, and study statistics. I can now speak confidently about research design, methods, and analysis/research recruitment strategies.

I understand not only how to read a research study, but how to assess validity through specific lenses (sample size, hypotheses logic, confounds, potential researcher bias, etc.).

Professor Anna McAlister, a published researcher, delivered weekly lectures that were based on work-based experience, not just textbook theory. Her experience raised the bar on the course content because we learned from someone who knows research from content to publication.

As grad students, we are constantly assigned research studies and academic papers. Now, I know the vocabulary of research (and don’t have to TL:DR  the “methods” section of studies or words like “p-value,” “t-test,” or “ANOVA”).

The MSU StratCom program enables students to sharpen their marketing and communications skills and to become content experts in their industries. We gain specific strengths in each course, but over time, we scaffold knowledge and emerge as powerhouse professionals.

Many MSU StratCom students work in communications and marketing, and courses like CAS 829 help students achieve differentiation in fields that require accurate, credible writing and reporting. Plus, we can apply these lessons in our careers and make ourselves more valuable as managers, team members, and employees.

I work for Serendipity Labs-Madison, a co-working company that offers high-rise, high-end workspaces for remote workers, telecommuters, project teams, and small businesses. With an upscale hospitality business model, our co-working spaces are like four-star hotels for workspaces.

Our tag line is “Inspiration at Work,” and this double entendre resulted in a singular outcome for me.

This month, I pitched a course project—a Serendipity Labs-Madison consumer experience study—and the franchise owner asked me to send this deliverable over summer. It’ll be so rewarding to see a long-term academic project go live professionally.

As a result of this survey, we can create a benchmark for consumer attitudes, norms, and experiences and track these metrics over time. Plus, we can identify opportunities based on consumer insights. It’s good to make yourself valuable and irreplaceable at work, right?

In research speak: there was a significant positive correlation between my CAS 829 coursework and my recent promotion to lab manager.

So the next time I’m asked what languages I speak, I’ll be sure to include “research.”