Applying My MS in Communication Knowledge to My Career in Graphic Design

Ann Simon headshot

Ann Simon , Student & Alumni

Design and communication may seem a little incongruent, but I promise they aren’t. I see them as best friends --- you know, the kind that frolics in grassy fields together. Pursuing a Master of Science in Communications made perfect sense: visual communication is an important part of any long- or short-term strategy that an organization develops, so why not learn and master the communication aspect of it? A year and four months into the communication masters program and I know this was one of the best decisions I made --- it is up there with adopting my dog and ordering pizza.

As a graphic designer, my work primarily consists of design and photography, but as communication methods changed, so did the best practices. I often sit in meetings (so many meetings) and wonder the how to solve the questions being posed. In academia the questions are often “how are we going to bring in more students?” and “how do we keep the ones we have?”.  

I had an opportunity to tackle the importance of strategic communication and planning in academia as my first research paper for the Seminar in Strategic Communication with Dr. Brian Chupp. The results of the paper expanded my thinking and the possibilities in my approach to message development. The research provided me with the much-needed evidence to support the significance of a strategic communications plan.

In a perfect world, cupcakes would have zero calories and ideas would be easy to implement, but the reality is that certain things are harder to get buy-in than others and apparently eating more than one cupcake isn’t advised. So, with an incredible supervisor in the lead, our department is starting small with a one-year communications plan directly related to marketing and student recruitment. This plan showcases the right messages for the variety of audiences that are likely to attend a community college through various mediums such as personal relationships with local high schools, printed materials, and social media. Plus, every class has led me to have conversations with different constituents on campus. I have developed a better, more concrete understanding of how communication works in the various departments.

Happily, the questions I ask have answers. While the answers may not be as easy to apply, the process of trying to find the right fit for what I am learning in Purdue’s MS in Communication program has been an exciting experience in itself.
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Ann Simon is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.