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Changing Careers - Getting a Grad Degree and Need Insight

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Hi everyone,

I'm new here, and thought this would be the best place to get some much needed insight as to how I should go about doing what I want to do.

I graduated from Drexel University in 2010 with a degree in Business/Accounting, and have been working in related jobs for about two years now. It's quickly becoming apparent that this is not my passion at all. I'm a people person who loves working on projects, shaping messages, and getting messages out. I want to be involved in digital communications, campaign building, message management, etc. Recently, I've been looking at the programs such as USC's Masters in Communication Management, Johns Hopkins M.A. in Communications, NYU's Integretated Marketing Communications, Columbia's Strategic Communications M.A., etc.

I'm worried that my lack of exposure to the communications world will be a hinderance into getting into these programs (I'm ignoring the exorbitant costs for now...). I had a 3.52/4.0 GPA in college, great working experiences working with clients (including international work), and am currently working in project finance. I don't know if any of this looks good. I'm taking the GRE sometime in the summer, but I have no idea what else I can do to make myself look good, or if there are other programs I should be applying to.

Any insight would greatly be appreciated.


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I think that as long as you can make a compelling case for why you want to go into strategic communications, your SOP can serve for answering questions that the admissions committee (adcomm) has about why you are applying into this field at this time. Tell a bit about the story of why you came here to the decision to work on strategic communication--are you an avid Twitter user? Do you like following media campaigns? Were you given a responsibility at your current job that sparked your interest? Let them know why you're interested. You have to be able to articulate what you want to study and why very well.

I would also encourage you to expand your search beyond the uber-competitive programs you list above. It's good to shoot high always. But you'll need to decide if you want to go to those programs because they are "premier" in the field, or because they actually have people you want to work with. At the MA level, you're looking more at mastering a skill or a specific field, and so look for programs that have a high reputation among strategic communication professionals. That's probably the best way to fill out your list. The schools you name are "big name" schools. Make sure to do the extra research about their actual strategic comm programs, since in many cases with graduate programs their reputation is more based on the work and speciality they have as a program, as opposed to their affiliation with the school.

Finally, all of us on this forum would probably say that fit is the #1 thing that affects your applications. I don't know that it matters whether or not you majored in Comm in undergrad (that will be case by case, based on what the programs are saying their application requirements are). What does matter is that you can connect your experience and interests to their specific program, research and specialties. Do some more research around this forum by searching "Strategic Communications" and see if you can find some more folks who've been through the process and know more about that particular degree. Communication is such a big discipline, and goes in so many directions, that the help traditional comm. majors may be able to offer you (like myself) is limited to what we know about the Communication discipline as an academic pursuit.

Good luck with your applications, and with pursuing a new and exciting interest!!

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  • 1 month later...

My background is in journalism and I'm starting my PhD in Communication shortly, so keep the faith. One word that I heard a lot from the schools that accepted me was "potential." I think I did a good job of showing how my past work experiences related to communication - even if it wasn't what I studied - and how my interests have shifted over the years. I also made sure to emphasize my fit with a few faculty members, as well as the general research orientation of the program. I think that there are a lot of ways to connect the work you are doing with the work you want to do. Get creative.

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