How concentrations can affect the jobs students can get

Alexis Wohler

Many majors at Kent State provide a number of concentrations to give students specific skillets in what they want to pursue. In the communication studies major, students can declare different concentrations that give them specific skills that better suit them for specific jobs upon graduation.

Professors and new courses:

“All areas can help students get good jobs after they graduate. There isn’t really one area of study that is predominating over others,” said Paul Haridakis, a professor in the school of communication studies. “Its up to the students to determine how they position themselves in their major. The top three skills that employers always look for are: good verbal communication skills, good written communication skills and good analytical skills.”

Haridakis said the jobs of most businesses are easy to learn, but the students have to learn the written and verbal communication skills before they actually enter the work world.

“It’s really a matter of what the students are interested in, that the students pick which concentration in communication studies they are most interested in,” said Haridakis.  “One concentration that has been very popular is applied communication…because it’s a major that allows students to tailor their work and they can take courses all across CCI.”

Haridakis gave an example of the variety of courses students can take in communication studies: If students are interested in visual communication design, they can the take those courses. If students want to take classes in public relations or advertising classes in the school of Journalism Mass Communication, they can choose any of those classes within the College of Communication and Information (CCI).

“Applied Communication is the biggest concentration in CCI, because students understand what’s important and they understand that getting a concentration in something that’s going to give them the broadest knowledge of theory and practical coursework, will help them in the long run,” said Haridakis.

Another concentration that is growing in communication studies is global communications. 

“Businesses and students are recognizing that most industries are global and international,” said Haridakis. “When we think of things like globalization, often times people talk about that in the terms of globalization. Globalization is a communication phenomenon. Students recognize that employers need people that have a broad base of not just communication skills, but intercultural skills.”

Haridakis said the best thing about being a communication studies professor is having to address the research questions that are communication related and keeping the curriculum vibrant and well connected, as it changes, including a course entitled “Terrorism Communication” that focuses on the acts of terrorism.

“Jobs come and go. One-third of the jobs that exist when freshmen graduate, aren’t there anymore,” Haridakis said. “But the written and verbal communication skills, regardless of the change in economy or the types of jobs, those skills are always going to be needed. Communication gives students a set of skills that are going to be applicable, no matter what changes.”

Students and career goals

Natalia Roman, the student ambassador of the CCI, said her favorite part of being in a communication studies major is the free reign and the opportunity to find activities that helped her decide what she wants to do.

Roman said her career goals include earning a PhD. and becoming a Provost as well as becoming a scholar in communication and pursuing her masters. 

“I want to help racial and minority students access higher education, because I feel like these populations aren’t helped financially to access these opportunities,” Roman said. “Any student that has the opportunity to come to college will find their path and find a career that suits them. I want to help students get there.”

Student Assistant in Communication Studies Reginald Jones said his favorite part of being in communication studies is the connections he has made with people. He said his public speaking skills came from his experiences in communication studies.

“I hope to have a future career in human resources, because I really love to acclimate people into the new jobs and positions. I also love the recruiting aspect, to get people interested in the company as well,” said Jones.

Jones said his public speaking and interviewing skills, as well as teamwork are skills he will carry in to his future career.

“The engagement of classroom discussions is the best part of being a Communication Studies major,” said Jones.

Jones has enjoyed three subjects in his journey with communication studies: gender communication studies, nonverbal communication and interviewing.

“I enjoy gender communication because it helps me to see all the gender inequalities within the work world. I feel that it’ll prepare me in human resources for dealing with that, as well as nonverbal communication, because I’ll have to learn to read peoples non verbal cues,” said Jones.

Jones said he has seen team work shine in the communication studies major and between the students, as well as seeing the students be able to communicate whatever is on their mind.

“I hope that the people that transfer in are welcomed and that they find their new major and college enjoyable,” said Jones. “I also hope that when people have classes in our college that they gain skills that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.”  

Advisor and Undergraduate Coordinator perspectives:

Communication Studies Undergraduate Coordinator Catherine Goodall said all areas of study in communication studies provide students with a wide range of skills that will prepare them for a variety of positions.  She gave examples on each major a student could have.

“A health communication major will prepare students for a range of positions in health care, health promotion, and work in non-profits,” said Goodall. “A global communication major will prepare students to work for global organizations. It just depends on what the student wants to do.”

Goodall said both oral and written communication skills as well as understanding and being able to adapt to various communication contexts will help students get jobs after they graduate. She said those are the skills being pushed in communication studies.

“Written and oral communication skills, as well as understanding and being able to adapt to various communication contexts and critical thinking. These concentrations will best prepare students for more specialized positions,” said Goodall.

Goodall said 44 percent of communication studies majors are in the applied concentration of communication studies.

“Applied Communication students tend to have broad talents and interests, and this major is best suited for those types of students. It is the only major we offer that crosses CCI,” said Goodall. “It is housed in communication studies, but involves collaboration with VCD and JMC. Students take coursework in all three schools, and receive a broad range of skills that really prepare them for the dynamics of modern communication industries.”

Goodall said students could be successful in a number of possible careers because of communication studies and that various concentration and minor options, allow students to learn specialized skills in more specific areas of interest to them.

“I really like this concentration because it fully takes advantage of what we have to offer in CCI,” said Goodall. “In CCI, we have the opportunity through a program like applied communication, to develop uniquely well-rounded communication specialists. By combining JMC, VCD and communication studies coursework, students are exposed to scholars and professionals of various backgrounds and expertise.”

Goodall said being able to offer students the opportunity to learn from professional sources is the best part of working in communication studies.

“We value faculty research programs in communication Studies,” said Goodall. “Teaching courses in our areas of expertise allows us to connect students to the most current research. We’ve had some undergraduate students get involved with research projects and contribute to knowledge creation in the field. We have faculty members who have done really compelling work, and the opportunity for students to learn directly from those sources is really valuable.”

Goodall said she enjoys working with the faculty to adapt and develop the curriculum to ensure that it best meets student needs.

“I find that my communication students are often better able to understand and apply theory into their daily practice of communication,” said Goodall. “This is something we develop effectively in communication studies.”

Communication Studies Advisor Michael Bell said different problem solving skills, communication skills and intrapersonal skills are the greatest focus within Communication Studies, as well as the abilities of teamwork and strong work ethic.

“Our curriculum is very practically based, so students get a lot of hands on skills. Most people do internships as part of the program, so they get the real world experiences that you don’t always find in other programs,” said Bell.

Bell said the students learn how to work with diverse audiences, how tailor their messages to diverse audiences, as well as learning how to use different technology and different writing styles.

“Having a concentration in any major, sets you apart from the person graduating next to you,” said Bell. “There are so many jobs out there, that if you know the industry even a little bit, it gives you an edge over someone who is coming in blind to that industry.”