That was always the response whenever I told someone that I was majoring in communication. I would then proceed to tell them about subjects such as the structure of media, the power dynamics involved, and everything in between from research to media analysis.
The next question they would ask was:
“What can you do with a degree in communications?”
“Well,” I’d say, “you could work in fields like public relations, journalism, corporate communications, marketing, human resources, health care, tech…”
That usually left them confused enough to refrain from asking more questions.
And I don’t blame them. If you had asked me about communications in high school, I wouldn’t have known it even existed in the first place. Yet, there are so many unexpected jobs that list a degree in communication as a requirement. So how is it that even we, as communication students, are so oblivious to the variety of job opportunities available to us in the job market?
Enter the Co-op program.
During my seeking semester, I saw many positions that I would love to apply to. Sitting in my saved list were big, well-known, tech companies that I aspired to work for one day. However, as the semester progressed, I realized that although these corporations had an amazing reputation, they might not help me gain a broader perspective of the communications field as I hoped. So instead, I began applying for broad positions that would allow me to explore the field of communications. That was when I landed myself a Co-op at SFU’s Arts and Communications Co-op office.
Four months into my first Co-op, I can say with utmost certainty that doing Co-op has been one of the most beneficial steps that I’ve taken in my academic career. Going into this Co-op, one of my main learning objectives was to be able to answer the question of where a degree in communication could take me. As a Special Projects Assistant, I was able to explore many different of areas of communications due the broadness of my role. Whether it was doing graphic design work, planning an Instagram campaign, editing Communiqué blog articles or analyzing a marketing strategy, I was able to try out many different areas that a communication major could end up in.
Through this experience, I was able to pick out the aspects of working in communications that I enjoyed and the ones that I didn’t. Like many communication students, I used to dream about being part of a visual design team for a large tech company. However, now, I’m re-evaluating that pursuit as I’ve come to realize that design is something I enjoy more as a hobby rather than a career. On the flipside, I’ve discovered that I enjoy writing and copy editing more than I expected.
If you want to discover for yourself what the field of communications is all about, Co-op is the way to go. For me, my first work term gave me a chance to experience different aspects of communication in a broad-based position. For you, it might be trying that position that was always interesting to you, but out of your comfort zone. Whatever that might look like, Co-op offers everyone a unique experience and can be a catalyst for a successful and fulfilling career path.