In the interest of full disclosure, I was asked to write on the topic of “top careers where a communications master’s will benefit you,” but I took a different path.
I gave it some thought, but not a lot, because I quickly deduced that a communication masters is valuable in virtually any industry type or size. So I guess I could have consulted labor market information to see the trending of growth industries and all that jazz.
But the art and science of strategic communication truly is one of those functions that defies categorization by industry type. The principles we discuss in the Lamb School program are pretty universal.
So instead, I’d rather reflect on a different way for a master of communications to pursue a career. I’d base it more on the perfect boss profile than the industry profile. Granted, a medical center requires day-to-day technical knowledge that may differ dramatically from those at the trucking company, but the guiding principles remain the same.
The perfect reporting situation, in my view, can be narrowly defined by these characteristics:
A bold, decisive leader who matches the “D” label in a typical DiSC profile.
A leader who, at the same time, also values the opinions of the direct report team.
#3 is short and to the point, but it says a lot. Reporting directly to a CEO or owner – whatever size company it may be – matters a lot. It means you have a seat at the strategy table. It means that you have a boss who “gets it” about well-planned and well-executed communication. And it means that you’ll be expected to deliver decisions and results that reflect a business orientation.
Of course, #3 may not always be so easy to attain, so the next best substitute is an organizational model and culture that seem to indicate an appreciation of communication. That requires research on your part that ranges from published accounts of the organization’s history to informational interviews with people who work there or who know someone who does. These days, such information is easier to retrieve.
And when you advance as far as the interview stage, remember this: You’re interviewing them at the same time. Your intuition, or “gut feel,” will tell you a lot, but also look for indicators such as how the interview team is comprised and what kinds of questions are being asked.
It just has to feel right. Don’t let money be the driver; that’s the basic ante in the game. And keep your mind open to any business category. You may be surprised at what you find.
Mike Kohler is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 10 courses (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.