If there's one thing that's clear from looking at the history of human existence and cooperation, it's that communication with one another is not always the easiest thing in the world.
In fact, the high difficulty level of effective communication is pretty high up the list of thoughts that Communications Majors have on a daily basis, coming in only slightly behind "the medium is the message" and "I can't believe I have to read this freaking Neil Postman book again."
But now that you've gone through all of those classes, case studies, and test after unending test, you may be asking yourself:
Well, that's where we come in. We literally created a map, just for Communications Majors such as yourself, to navigate your way through the choppy waters of recent graduation.
Feel free to focus on the map alone -- it's pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who prefer step by step navigation on your path, keep reading. We'll give you the rundown on:
- What skills you'll need
- How to begin
- What jobs you can expect to find as Communications Major
- Some quick interview tips
- Consider graduate school
- External resources
First thing's first: what skills you'll need to get started.
1. Skills for Communications Majors
The study of Communications is, first and foremost, the study of how to interpret incoming information and how to reformat/rephrase this information for the benefit of other people.
It's the study of mediums -- not the ones that talk to ghosts, but the ones that move along information from one person to another. Television is a medium, the same as radio or the internet.
Understanding a variety of mediums as a Communications Major gives you a lot of transferable skills when it comes to really grokking how information is presented and transferred to others. It gives you a significant advantage when it comes to you moving that information along yourself.
Applying these skills to real world learning opportunities yields a more robust and balanced career. Here are some of the common skills that you should have when trying to get a job with Communications degree.
Public speaking. One of the first classes you take as a Communications Major is public speaking, so this one should be a no-brainer. Everything about Communications revolves around...well, communicating, so it helps to be able to do so in person. Public speaking skills learned from Communications courses provide you with an excellent baseline for how to portray yourself and your ideas in a way that others will be receptive to.
Understanding of mass media. Mass media has several different expressions and iterations, and understanding how mass media operates -- what the major companies are, how information gets out there and how it spreads, the way that information is interpreted by consumers -- is an essential skill for any job, particularly in any that might stem from a Comm. Major.
Interpersonal communication skills. A little different than outright public speaking, interpersonal skills combines an understanding of how you and the information you're expressing is being interpreted by those around you with a little thing called empathy. Being intuitive about how another person is going to accept or interpret the things that you say to them is something that may come natural to many folks, but it's also a skill that can be learned through the study of Communication.
2. Where to Begin Your Career After Getting Communications Degree
Not every field benefits significantly from taking advantage of internship opportunities, but Communications is definitely one of those disciplines where a good internship can land you a job early on. And even if it doesn't lead to one directly, being afforded the ability to start working in the field and building your portfolio is an excellent opportunity that makes for great resume fodder.
The best option, as with most jobs, is simply to get lucky -- knowing the right person at the right time who can pass your resume along is the surest bet when it comes to getting a job pretty much anywhere. But if that situation hasn't presented itself to you quite yet, it might be worth taking a look at what sort of internships you might be qualified for, even if you've already graduated from college.
Here are some common types of internships for Communications Majors:
Before you settle on an internship, though, you'll want to make sure it's the right fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Where (in the state/the country/the world) do you want to work?
- What size and type of organization do you want to work for?
- Do you need compensation in an internship, or might you be able to consider alternative compensation (experience, work samples, references, networking, etc.)
- Is relocation an option?
3. Available Jobs For Communications Majors
The variety of jobs open to you as a Communications Major is pretty vast -- pretty much every company on the planet needs to communicate with someone somewhere or other, whether that be with their customers, other businesses, or even with their own employees.
With our map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information for each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.). But here, we wanted to call out some of the most common jobs for recent Communications major grads.
Here are the 10 most interesting entry-level jobs for recent grads such as yourself:
Marketing coordinators can have many different responsibilities, from maintaining marketing calendars or customer databases to developing ideas and engaging in research themselves. In general, though, marketing coordinators tend to in some way be responsible for interpreting information or data for the benefit of other employees, so a firm grasp of the principles of Communication are a must for this position.
Like the other items on this list, reporters are nominally responsible for interpreting information for the benefit of others -- however, they tend to do so for the public at large rather than their employers. Reporters identify stories, track down information, and put it into an easily digestible format. The always-online trend of modern journalism means that many would-be reporters are now learning programming and multimedia web design in order to remain competitive in the job market.
Communications specialists are experts in public relations, and tend to have a lot of responsibility when it comes to managing a company's public image. Entry-level workers usually start off maintaining company files, going through media articles, and compiling information, while higher level employees help to develop strategies for all of a corporation's communication (both external and internal).
4. Some Quick Job Search Tips for Communications Majors
Network, Network, Network
The best thing you can do to get a job in Communications is, plain and simple, to know somebody who knows somebody.
This is putting it very simplistically, but there are a lot of steps you can take right off the bat to help you find people who can help you get a job.
Reach out to the people you know from college, students or not. If enough time has passed, that girl you friended on Facebook for one group project three years ago might be your in for a job that just opened.
On a similar note, professors are not only good first references for your resume, but they've also been around students and the professional Communications world long enough that they might have some good recommendations for you as far as where to look.
Having and maintaining a professional Twitter presence is also a bit of a must for those in the Communications field. As a journalist, it's the main way that you'll communicate with others in your field, and it will help spread your work too.
Lastly, join a good professional organization like some of those listed at the end of this page and take advantage of every resource at their disposal. And wherever possible, just talk to people, and be friendly. You'd be surprised at how far a little communication goes -- or, given the field, maybe it's not such a shock.
Start a Blog Already
Yeah, we get it -- you're planning to start a blog. You'll totally do it eventually. Or maybe you've already started one, spent 40 minutes customizing the font and colors, and then wrote exactly one post, which you deleted after no one liked it.
We get it. Writing itself is already tough. Writing consistently every single day? Herculean. But it's a necessary step when it comes to Communications jobs.
If you're on the job hunt and not getting a lot of bites just yet, the fact of the matter is that there's no hiring manager out there in this field that would be offended if you had a professional blog. And there's dozens of hiring managers that would be ecstatic. It's all a big part of showing that you understand media (social or not) and that you're capable of communicating effectively.
Any old writing sample will help, but in lieu of professional writing samples, a blog will go a long way toward showing a hiring manager that you know how to communicate and that you deserve a shot.
5. Continuing Education and Certifications in Communications
Certifications and credentials
As with certificates for most other majors, certificates for Communication Majors aren't hugely beneficial for the title alone. While a hiring manager won't hate seeing it there, it's just not as impressive as a Bachelor's Degree, and on its own can't replace it. In many cases, the colleges will use the certificates themselves as an option during undergrad in order to further customize an ongoing Bachelor's degree.
Unlike certain other fields, there's no real licensure you need in order to write or practice Communications in some other sense -- typically, the degree itself (along with your work experience and portfolio) is all the qualification you'll need.
So the most important thing for getting a certificate should be the program itself, and the quality of the information and expertise you'll be acquiring while you're in the program. Make sure you study up on the program and see what people have to say about it. If they're skeptical, it might be worth skipping in favor of trying to get more job experience.
If you do go the certificate route, here are a few of the specializations you can expect to see:
- Health Communication
- Strategic Communication
- Communications Leadership and Conflict Management
- Technical Writing
Pursuing an advanced degree
Having a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies is obviously a great first step regardless of what sort of career you might be considering, but once you've finished that, another question remains: should you go onto further studies?
We did a little research, and while the Master's might be useful to you, you'll want to think long and hard about whether a Ph.D is for you and your chosen career.
Here are common advanced degrees that people with Communications degree normally consider:
Master's in Communications
- If you're looking to increase your knowledge in a particular aspect of Communications or improve your research skills (always a useful thing to have), then a Master's might be supremely useful to you. If you're looking more to increase your earning potential, a Master's can help do that for you too, but you want to be aware of the hefty price tag that might be associated with it. If you can get the Master's without breaking the bank, then go for it, but otherwise it might be worth it to focus on getting more job experience and building your portfolio
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy in Communications)
- This option is really only a good idea if you're interested in Communication Studies from a research perspective. Expect a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and not much recognition for how long and difficult your eventual book is to read. Perfect for the academics or teachers, but those interested in the more professional side of the Communications field steer clear
6. External Resources
If you're still not sure what to do with your degree here are some external sites, to help you with your decision:
The most important national society of professional journalists to be aware of as a Communications Major. The Associated Press is huge resource of unbiased information and education for journalists, and the organization is also the governing body for AP Style, which is the accepted writing standard for professional journalism.
National Communications Association
A membership-based academic group based mainly in Washington, D.C., the NCA works to support those who study Communications and attempts to engage the public on issues related to Communication.
Public Relations Society of America
A trade association for Public Relations-associated jobs that, among other things, offers an accreditation program for those practicing in the Public Relations field.
Enter "Communications" into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to Communications majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about it.
Bureau Of Labor Statistics
The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country.
In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.
And if this all seems like a lot - don't worry - the hard part (getting your degree!) is already over.