Throughout all of my semesters as a UNCW Communication Studies student, I have always been reminded that the COM department is constantly preparing its students for the professional world. With the spring semester rapidly approaching, and my graduation along with it, it is absolutely mind-boggling to look back at my time here and pick up on some of the unforgettable pieces of wisdom that I have collected while studying in this field; some of which were intentionally taught, and some that were not.
To start, I never saw professional value in my interpersonal skills until I began studying COM. Technical skills are important in the post-grad world, but we also need to be able to use empathy to imagine how our customers might feel in regards to a questionable marketing campaign, influencing to bring the team together for a project, and active listening to figure out the best way to respond to someone who we are communicating with. Successful professionals have to be well-versed in all of these areas, not just in the skills that fall under technical. Learning this also helped me realize that a healthy-group dynamic consists of a diverse group of people with various strengths. The way that I think and complete tasks is very different from how one of my classmates might, or how my boss might. However, it is because of these differences that we can work together to bounce ideas off of each other and create a successful product. Working with a group of people that don’t share similar strengths can also help everyone develop their weaker areas, specifically because members can observe how their teammates do things or even ask for advice on certain areas. In the end, the individuals within the team learn how to become more well-rounded professionals and foster a positive environment for the group that is productive and connected.
A major chunk of knowledge from this department boils down to the fact that we all have the communication tools needed to sell ourselves to potential employers, customers, group members, significant others, etc. All we have to do is learn what areas we need to improve and what areas we are naturally gifted at, then actively develop these attributes in order to properly represent ourselves. While the COM department does help us with the basics and the theory that goes into this process, they leave it to us to put in the effort to grow. We can see this in the classes that COM majors are required to take; we learn basic computer programs in CSC 105, proper public speaking etiquette in COM 101, how to conduct research and write about our findings in COM 200, and many others until we bring it all together in COM 400 to find the best way to display our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses to land post-grad opportunities.
Something that has become more evident over the years of acquainting myself with the department faculty is that even the more experienced adults in our lives aren’t always sure what they are doing; they are imperfect humans as well. When you see one of your professors crack jokes at their boss (who is also their friend), or hear them talk about something embarrassing they did over the weekend, you start to see them as actual people who are relatable by nature. With this topsy-turvy semester in particular, I have seen professors who reflected similar themes to myself and my peers such as having trouble staying motivated, completing tasks late, experiencing zoom fatigue, etc. It helps to remember that the people we look up to are not too different from ourselves when we are attempting to figure out our future plans, because then the idea of being successful and happy seems obtainable. It also helps us keep in mind that we need to be more understanding with each other; no matter how experienced someone is or how professional they are, they are human too and they have moments where they are struggling. That means being ready and willing to provide support when needed, even to the ones who seem like they have their life in order.
Based off of how quickly this semester went, graduation will be here before I know it, and I couldn’t have done it without all of the knowledge, support, and spirit that I received from this department. However, I am now realizing that there was something the COM department never prepared me for; the fact that I’m not ready to leave yet.
Written by Emma D’Anjolell. You can learn more about our blogwriters by clicking the “Our Team” banner at the top!