By Sydney Jones
Upon exploring communication studies as a major, I was not sure what to expect. My initial thoughts were that I would be writing a lot of speeches, presentations, and papers. After all, communication means talking, right? In reality, the communication studies major explores a multitude of subjects, and many different contexts of communication. Being a COM major can also benefit students in many ways beyond academics. Students have opportunities for networking, internships, and potential jobs, along with the opportunity to meet some amazing people. Here are some things to consider if you are planning to become a COM major:
Get To Know Your Professors
Seriously. The professors in the COM department are some of the coolest people you will ever meet. Most of them, if not all, are truly rooting for you to succeed. By getting to know your professors, asking for help or feedback will come easier. For me, it made me more comfortable asking questions or reaching out when something didn’t quite make sense.
Also, getting to know your professors could allow for potential networking and/or references. As I said, your professors are rooting for you to succeed. The professors in the COM department are very seasoned and may know of potential employers and internships. They could also prove to be valuable references for future job applications. Even without all the perks they may provide, the professors in the COM department are also very cool people who will make your experience in the major downright fun.
Take Advantage of Workshops
Throughout your experience as a COM major, you will do many things other than writing. There will be a lot of hands-on work with Adobe and video platforms, things that many students do not have much experience with right out of high school. Lucky for us COM majors, many COM professors put on workshops to allow students a little bit of extra help in these areas. For example, Dr. Stuart (an IMC professor) puts on workshops over zoom for Adobe Suite platforms such as InDesign and Spark. Some of these platforms may seem self-explanatory, but they can be difficult to navigate once you get in there. Take advantage of these free workshops, as they can help you with your projects in COM and add a new skill to your resume.
Utilize the University Writing Center
Of course, one of the main aspects of the COM major is writing, lots and lots of writing. Whether it’s research papers, justifications, or projects, you will inevitably spend a lot of time writing. COM professors do place a lot of emphasis on writing mechanics, but it may prove worthwhile to visit the university writing center. The UNCW learning center has a free writing center that provides free one-on-one writing consultations for all students for any academic writing purpose. Sessions are led by faculty-recommended and trained peer writing consultants that help students identify areas in the draft to improve while assisting in the development of specific revision plans. Students can work on their writing skills as the consultant guides them through the revision process. Utilizing the writing center can take a lot of stress off your plate, especially if you have multiple writing deadlines coming up at once.
Get To Know Your Fellow COM Majors
One of the most valuable resources you can acquire as a COM major is…other COM majors. Getting to know your fellow COM students will not only immerse you in a great community but may also help you with future projects. Many COM classes place a large emphasis on group work. In fact, COM 200 (a qualifying class for the COM major) is mostly made up of group work and writing. Getting to know your fellow COM majors may make this group work much easier in future courses, allowing you to see firsthand how your peers work and who you get along with. Aside from helping with work, your fellow COM students could become great friends and a wonderful community for you in the future.
Save Your Best Work
Throughout your experience as a COM major, you will constantly hear “be sure to save your best work for your portfolio.” This will be for the communication studies capstone course (COM 400). While it is important to save all your best work and certifications for this course, these items may also prove valuable for other endeavors. Some jobs require a sample of previous work depending on the nature of the job. Having easy access to your best work from school will make the process of applying for the job much easier and may help you to be a stand-out candidate for the job.
While these are just a few things that can help future students, there are so many other wonderful benefits of being a COM major. Throughout my education in the major, I feel that I have gained valuable tools and experience that will help me tremendously in my future endeavors.