Skip to main content
Amy headshot

Amy Chui

SFU Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication

empty
People pointing at a computer screen
Credit
John Schnobrich

Communication students who have never done a Co-op semester might be asking this question: Do I have what it takes to work in the field of communications? 

Most people have no idea what careers are in the field of communications, let alone what communication students study. This is because there is a vast amount of career options for communication majors. The nature of communications work can look very different in each sector. However, our skillset is highly transferable and limitless in terms of the industries that are open to us.

Here are some of the key skills that every communication major should have:

1. Learn Design Skills

Design skills are a must for any job in the field of communications. Whether it be a marketing collateral piece or a social media graphic, being skilled with design software found in the Adobe Creative Suite such as Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop will instantly give you an edge over other candidates. As SFU students, you have full access to free resources such as Lynda.com where you can learn these skills. You can also learn to design with Adobe through courses such as IAT 102 and PUB 131, which require no prerequisites! 

Another great design software to pick up is Canva – a free, online design program that is commonly used for designing social media graphics. This software is a precursor to learning the Adobe Creative Suite.

2. Have Writing Samples on Hand

Employers are always looking for candidates who have strong written communication skills. As most communications positions involve some form of writing, having samples on hand is a great way to showcase your writing skills. The best way to build your portfolio is to write for organizations like The Peak or the OLC. What better way to show off those writing skills than to say you are a published writer?

3. Learn Photography/Videography

If you haven’t used a DSLR in one of your lower-division communication classes already, you may want to consider learning how to use one in your spare time. Many communication positions involve some aspect of visual content creation. Being able to take photos and create professional-looking videos will help you stand out from the crowd – especially if you’ve mastered video-editing.

4. Become a Social Media Pro

We may be Gen Z digital natives, but knowing how to keep your Snapchat streaks alive or being a master at creating Boomerangs barely scratches the surface of what being a social media professional entails. Besides staying up to date with the latest social media trends, one of the most important skills that you need to know is interpreting social media analytics. This skill is one that can make or break future career opportunities. A great way to learn this is by improving your own personal social media account or by volunteering with a club or organization to gain experience managing a social media account. Some other keys skills you may want to learn are how to develop a content calendar and researching your target audience. 

5. Visit your Co-op Coordinator and get their Feedback 

While having the right skills for the job is important; knowing how to communicate them effectively to your employer is equally important. Writing solid cover letters and resumes are essential. After all, you’ve worked so hard to become an amazing communications professional; shouldn’t your job application also reflect that? Your Co-op Coordinator is your best friend when it comes to nailing the perfect cover letter and resume, so don’t hesitate to ask them for advice–they want to help you succeed!

There are many things that students can do to become a well-rounded communications professional. As it is an ever-changing field, one of the best things about working there is that we constantly have the opportunity to learn new skills to adapt. This may not a complete list of skills that you might use during your Co-op, but mastering this list will definitely help you stand out from the crowd.

About the Author

Amy headshot

Amy Chui

SFU Student
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
Amy Chui is a third-year student studying Communication and Publishing. She is an avid planner and often thinks about the important questions of faith and life.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading biographies and playing guitar.  

Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.
Jien Hilario photo
What’s in a Name? Coming to Terms With Labelling Myself as a Person With a Disability

If you were to see Jien on campus, you wouldn’t know that she had a disability. She does not use a wheelchair nor does she have a seeing eye dog. She has an invisible disability. In this article, Jien shares her journey on how she came to terms with labeling herself as a person with a disability. 

Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere
Why Doesn’t Canada Have a Disabilities Act?

It is 2018 and Canada has not yet implemented adequate protection and legislation for people with disabilities. When it comes to equality for all, Canada is falling far behind. In this article, Jien discusses the research and reality of why Canada needs a Disabilities Act.

We Can Do It!
How to Satisfy Your Inner Activist

When people think about social justice, they think of things like protests or hunger strikes, but the options don’t end there. These volunteer organizations can help you satisfy your inner activist.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections, Professional Development, Career Exploration, Seeking, Work Term Extension

author, courtney, smiling
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

Having completed my first work term for Health Canada as a Communications Officer Intern, I was eager to try something new, and the government was not where I believed that was going to happen. That is until I was offered a position at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

picture of glichelle pondering a though
Surviving Workplace Politics

Ever been peeved with workplace politics? Have you ever been a victim of office politics? One student shares her experiences from the workplace with tips on how to survive.

 

person with their head in a book
Responsibility and Success

One of the most memorable parts of my time in co-op was the collection of accidents, errors, mistakes, and mix-ups that happened in the course of working in the laboratory.

 

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

christiane with co-workers
March: Arts and Culture

In the winter of 2013, SFU Geography student Christiane Pulluau trekked to La Paz, Bolivia to work with a CED (Community Economic Development) group. She shared her diary entries with us, and we present the third insallment: Arts and Culture in March.

Shoreline of a water body at sunset
Science Here, There, Everywhere

From chemical reactions that hit the roof of our lecture halls, to trips to remote regions of Northern BC, this is an account of some anecdotes and experiences of my first co-op term, working for Science AL!VE in the summer of 2014, teaching children about the field of study that I love myself.

two heritage buildings in barcelona
BPK in Barcelona?

BPK student, Nick Crivici, spent nine months as an English Language Assistant in Barcelona.  Although this co-op was not directly related to the BPK field, he found tremendous educational value in his experience abroad.