Last year around this time, I was a bit torn. I enjoyed my job as a communications manager at MSU’s central communications office, but I kept wondering if there was more that I could push myself to do in my professional life. But what was that? A new career? A move? Turns out, the answer was closer than I thought.
MSU was offering a new Strategic Communication Online Master’s program. Bingo. That was it. That was my next adventure, and I didn’t have to leave my job or move. In fact, this program was created for working professionals— people like me. I would be a part of the inaugural cohort, and that was a pretty awesome feeling.
I’ll admit, however, I was a bit nervous to be taking a fully online master’s program. How would I interact with my professors and classmates? When would office hours be? Luckily, the team behind the program at ComArtSci has been accommodating and helpful, and the professors have been immensely responsive and supportive. Everyone has been really mindful of students’ commitments and the realities of their daily lives. And my classmates? They’re my teammates! They’re in this with me and I appreciate their insight and encouragement. We stay connected through email, a Facebook group and discussion threads.
I’m nearly halfway into my two-year program and already, I find myself growing in skill and confidence. What I most enjoy about this program thus far is the depth and breadth of the kinds of topics we cover. That wide swath of information is crucial to communications professionals, as it is generally expected for us to have a variety of skills. From ethics and crisis communications to wireframes and digital strategies, this program touches on a little of everything, and I couldn’t be happier. I often find myself drawn to the larger picture of a brand or an organization (as in, “how does everything and everyone fit together?”) so this program is —and will continue to be— a great benefit as I progress in my career toward (hopefully!) one day leading a communications unit.
Above all, I think what I most appreciate about pursuing my master’s degree in strategic communication while working as a communications professional is that I can apply what I learn in class almost immediately. That is so gratifying. As an undergraduate, I learned a tremendous amount, of course, but I really hadn’t experienced many of the situations I was reading about. Now, I can use the knowledge I learn in my MSU master’s classes with circumstances I come across at work. Not only does this help me, but it helps my organization, too.
I’m glad I made the decision to pursue my Strategic Communication Online Master’s degree at MSU. My mom played an important role in helping me make that decision. Last year when I was uncertain with what my next professional steps would be, I’ll never forget what she said:
“If you’re going to spend time doing something, you might as well spend it bettering yourself and your career.”
She was so right.
By Jennifer Orlando