Humans of COM Studies: A Profile on Katie South

During your first couple years at UNCW, it can be difficult to get involved on campus outside of clubs and sports. College can seem overwhelming at first when trying to pick a major and get involved on campus that coincide with your career goals. Maybe you came to college not knowing what you were going to major in or had an idea of what your dream job was, but realized you were not cut out for it. What do you do then? Do you try a new field and try to gain job experience, or do you just give up? Katie South, a junior in the Communication Studies department, went through a similar situation during her first couple years at UNCW.

When Katie began her freshman year in the fall of 2015, she knew she wanted to be a Communication Studies major. “I always wanted to be a sideline reporter,” Katie said. “I soon realized that I didn’t know nearly enough about sports to do that, but the major is so versatile that I figured I would still be able to find something I’d enjoy.” She started working for the UNCW Campus Dining Peer-to-Peer sales team in the fall semester of her sophomore year; she, along with a team of other students in a variety of majors, tabled around campus to inform students about their meal plan options and take surveys that fit them with their best option. This job opened up opportunities for Katie that she never expected. “I thought it would be good experience for me to get more involved with campus and meet other students. The other job I had at the time took most of my free time, so I didn’t get involved with other school activities like I had wished. But working for the Peer-to-Peer sales team gave me that opportunity to meet new people while still earning money and gaining experience with sales and marketing.”

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When taking the core COM classes, it may seem like you would never use some of those skills in a real profession. It can sometimes be difficult to see how your classes would pertain to a real job in the adult-world when sitting in lecture after lecture, but gaining experience in on-campus jobs can help you see the importance of these classes. Katie goes on to say that “being able to apply the communication skills I was learning with real students in real world situations gave me a new appreciation for what I was learning. I was able to build upon my interpersonal communication skills and pick up on students’ nonverbal cues that I may have previously overlooked had I not taken these classes.”

While Katie was just expecting to stay on the Peer-to-Peer team throughout college, a job opportunity with Auxiliary Services opened up that she couldn’t pass up. She got the position of marketing assistant about a month ago that allows her to work directly with the marketing specialist to “complete project research, develop promotional and informational materials, plan and attend public relations activities, among a variety of other activities.” Although she has only been in this position for a short time, it is something she is interested in staying in for a while. She has even started considering going to graduate school here and staying in her current position or finding a similar job within the marketing field. Katie has been able to use skills from COM classes such as 101, 200, 232, and 280 that she never thought she would use in a real-world setting, but now utilizes them every day at her new job.

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“My biggest piece of advice that I could give underclassmen is to not limit themselves. I had no desire to pursue marketing when I first started here at UNCW; I was determined to graduate and go straight into the news field. Once I opened myself up to the Peer-to-Peer sales team, I realized how much I loved working with people and being that line of communication when there’s confusion.” Katie shows us every day why being a student in the Communication Studies department is so rewarding and vital to succeeding in any job market. By embracing new ideas and gaining experience in various fields of work, you might be able to find your niche and succeed more than you ever thought possible.