3 facts: The Communications Program

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I’ve been getting questions on Formspring about the Communications program. I love my program, but it was a long time before I realized I was interested in it! (My major was international studies, but I changed it.)

I thought a blog post would be handy in answering these questions, so I wrote up 3 facts about the communications program at Glendon. 

Fact #1. Communications (a.k.a.  Communications Studies) deals with processes of human communication.

What is communications about? Communications covers topics like:

  • mass media and culture,
  • face-to-face (i.e. interpersonal) communication,
  • the exchange of messages, ideas, and values,
  • technologies that influence communication (e.g. the internet),
  • sometimes: rhetoric, i.e. how to form an argument (think Socrates, Plato, other dead guys)
oprah

Interesting fact: Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Lee, and Howard Stern all studied communications.

You might be interested in majoring in communications if…

  • You’d love a job like: public relations consultant, human resources adviser, television broadcaster, journalist, copywriter, or editor (find more career options here)
  • You’re passionate about publishing, mass media (e.g. social media, television, print journalism), international development, policy, or politics.
  • You want to be a character in Ugly Betty or Mad Men. (Don’t get too excited though; working life is not that glamorous.)
I'm reasonably sure most people in communications aren't this grumpy.

I’m reasonably sure most people in communications aren’t this grumpy.

Fact #2. The Communications Program at Glendon is in transition.

Although there is no program right now, there will be a complete program available in 2015. Right now, Glendon already offers communications-related courses like:

  • Introduction to Communication: Theory and Practice (GL/SOSC 2100): This course focuses on interpersonal communication (e.g. How do you handle conflict in your professional or personal life?) and teaches you how to do business consulting.
  • Professional Communications Field Experience (GL/SOSC 4505): This combines in-class study with a 6-week internship.

…and a certificate program in Technical and Professional Communication. This is useful because hard skills like business writing look good on a resume and can be practically applied in a job.

Fact #3. I am studying communications at Glendon (what?!) …in the Individualized Studies Program (oh.).

This is the most confusing part of this post because I am a fossil – one of the last of my kind!

fossil = me.

fossil = me.

Before the official communications program is introduced at Glendon, new students can study communications at Glendon in the Individualized Studies Program.

The Individualized Studies Program allows students to study programs by mixing and matching courses that are related to a single subject that doesn’t already exist as a program (i.e. communications). Be warned, however, that this requires more initiative than other programs.

Well that’s about it. 

If you have other questions about communications, leave them in the comments or on my Formspring.

3 lessons for career-hunters

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“Think of networking like dating.”

“Keep knocking on doors. No doesn’t mean no, it just means not right now.”

“You can’t know what your destination is.”

I recently attended a Career Centre panel discussion on “Discovering Careers in Non-Profit, Charitable, Non-Governmental, and Social Justice Organizations.” While I was there, I was inspired and surprised by what I heard.

There were six great panelists, with backgrounds as diverse as commerce, medieval history, environmental studies, communications, sociology, and political science.

Some of the panelists from the discussion (left to right): Sarah Asgari, Mary El’Bably, Nora Priestly (Photo taken by Sjoerd Witteveen), Christopher Tuckwood, Cecelia Paoluca (Photo taken by Colin McConnel)

Given that diversity, it’s no surprise that the first lesson to emerge was…

“Don’t let your degree define you – you define the degree.”

A degree is just one part of your journey. There is no perfect degree for landing your dream job. Really. It’s more likely that you will have a non-linear career path filled with jobs or experiences that might not seem directly related to your goals.

If you’re feeling directionless, don’t freak out, because…

“You’re probably on your career path already.”

What are the things that you love doing? The clubs that you gravitate towards? The jobs or volunteer positions that you’ve filled?

Whether you know it or not, you have been developing your personality, connections, knowledge, experience, and passion since day 1. You’ve been preparing for your career.

But don’t just focus on yourself…

Network, network, network! “You cannot underestimate the value of [other] people.”

Connections and serendipity can open up doors that you wouldn’t be able to plan for or force open yourself.

“Think of networking like dating.” It’s better to follow up with someone you’ve already made a personal connection with than to look for an advert online when you’re career-shopping.

Being proactive, passionate, and people-oriented will make a great career an achievable goal. Do you have other great advice for career-hunters? Let us know in the comments.

“I don’t know what major/career/life I want.” Some advice.

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Don’t worry about your future if you’re undecided about your major/school/life in general. Can I say this enough?  Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.

No matter how certain some people seem, we’re all in the process of figuring it out. Study broadly (as the video below says), seize interesting opportunities, work hard, and things will fall into place. You don’t need to know everything right now.

This video is awesome. This guy has a realistic perspective on life. Watch it.

What are you undecided about? Is your indecision stressing you out?

I love communications.

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I feel like I’ve finally found the degree of my dreams. I don’t want to get into it too much, because we’ve only been together for a week, but seriously. I am telling you, communications is the major for me.

This is my first year as a communications major (side note: the official major and minor program will be established by 2014). For a gal who has studied everything from psychology to international development, and who has felt lost in the midst of it all, this is monumental.

Expectations

When I left high school, I felt that it was expected for me to know what career I wanted, what I was really passionate about, and at the very least – what I wanted to major in.

But I didn’t know! So in the meantime, I did all the things that seemed interesting to me, and began to work through the haze of confusion of career options, degree options, club options, options, options, options . . . And I’m still working it out!

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Fast forward

Last night, I had my first communications class. The class was dynamically taught, the subject matter corresponds to my passions, and I can see the content helping me in a future career. This is a new thing. I finally found the rightly fitting program for me.

When you get to university, you may also feel that you’re not ”getting it.” In that place of uncertainty and doubt, I’d encourage you to keep struggling. For a life of passion. For an academic pursuit with purpose. Even for peace. Who knows, one day you might be surprised with arriving at something you really love.

I’m changing my university major. And it’s no big deal.

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A politics student with an identity crisis.

I’ve spent the past two years trying to make myself a politics student. In first year, I studied international development and political science, and in my second year I transferred to the international studies program.

My grades were good, and as far as I could tell, if I continued on this path I might have become a diplomat or NGO worker or lawyer. Not bad, right? It was definitely an impressive answer for anyone who might ask what I was planning on doing with my life.

The problem.

I was studying something for the prestige. I also bought into the myth that you should “do what your good at.” Because I was good at my politics courses and continue to be. What was missing? Passion.

Another problem: the arts leviathan*.

When I was entering university, another reason why I chose politics courses was that I didn’t know what else to choose from. Anthropology, social science, humanities – what were all of those things,

I saw the arts as one ginormous monster. I couldn’t tell an arm apart from a leg (e.g. sociology from social science). I was choosing out of ignorance.

What is a leviathan? A big, scary monster. FYI.

Being humble enough to divert when you’re on the wrong path.

So here I am, at the end of my second year, realizing that I’ve spent the past two years studying a subject I have no intention to go further with. Disaster? Absolutely not!

Trying different things has allowed me to close different doors from experience (no, Esther, don’t try to study that, or that, or that…). For me this is a BIG DEAL. At the beginning of university, I was equally interested in everything, which was a big problem at course selection time.

I also have enough time left to earn a general arts degree in a subject that really interests me within two more years of study.

Finding the right course

When it comes down to it, your major will not direct your entire life course. However, it is probably better to study something more (rather than less) relevant to the career that you will have in the future.

But. Remember that no education is wasted. My first two years of university taught me a lot, and likewise, the mistakes you make in university will teach you loads as well – that is, if you let them.