Notes from the field…
Candice Ashton ’07, junior publicist at MTV Networks, shares how her degree in Communication Studies prepared her for her career.
Communication Studies prepared me for my current job by forcing me to become a better writer and speaker. I work in publicity/PR and a good percentage of my job is writing press releases, writing pitch emails, pitching ideas over the phone or in person. The hundreds of essays I wrote in Comm. Studies prepared me for the million more pitch emails I'd write on a weekly basis for work. One class that helped me in particular was Dr. Williamson's "Persuasion and Propaganda." He made us stand up in front of the class and pitch an idea/product, which is basically something I do every day. A major aspect of my job is persuading people to do certain things that in turn promote whatever I'm pushing. That my be pitching someone to write an article about what I'm publicizing, or persuading someone that they should book someone I'm promoting, on their morning talk show. Comm. Studies helped me to become a confident and persuasive writer and speaker, which have helped me tremendously in my current career.
The best advice I can give current students regarding their careers, is to intern. Intern as much as you possibly can. It is the best experience you can get besides college. Internships are the real life, on the job experience that will help you figure out what you want to do as well as what you don't want to do. Also, the contacts and connections you make will be key in helping you find that initial job after school. When I was in college I realized I loved pop culture and wanted to work in the entertainment industry. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but I knew it was what I wanted. I had no connections, none of my family had ever worked in anything even remotely related, and there certainly wasn't an "entertainment industry" table at the USD Career Fair. Somehow though I stumbled upon an internship with the VH1 Publicity department in LA and applied. I was hired to work as a summer intern and I loved every minute of it. It was nothing what I thought it would be like, but yet it was even better. Of course I also interned at places that I hated. I thought I wanted to work at a magazine and after interning at one, I realized the magazine industry was not for me. Now, 2 and 1/2 years after graduation, I'm working as a Jr. Publicist at MTV Networks - the same company that hired me as an intern one summer. I never would have realized what the entertainment publicity industry was like if I had never interned. And it was my connections from doing so that helped me get my foot in the door.