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.
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