Take Control of Your Communication Career


Debra Davenport, Faculty

If you’re like most people, you probably give a lot of thought to your communication career and where it’s going – and actually that’s a very smart strategy. Given that the average American spends over 2300 hours a year on the job (47 hours a week X 50 weeks / year), it makes sense to have a solid career plan, as well as a job you truly love.

For those in communication, perhaps the most challenging aspect of career planning can be deciding on a specialty practice area. In my other June blog, I listed some of the many career opportunities available in the broad field of professional communication. Other careers include SEO/SEM, content marketing, copywriting, employee relations / HR, education, account management, speech communication, brand management, creative direction, training and development, event management, and public information – just to name a few. For a more complete list of communication jobs, see http://bit.ly/1TShBW8.
The best way to choose the most ideal communication career is to assess your interests, skills and personal value system. It’s quite uncanny how one’s personal values serve as a very reliable GPS to the perfect career.

Once you’ve narrowed your specialty areas to a few, I encourage you to try on these jobs to make sure they’re a good fit. Find professionals who are doing what you’d like to do and shadow them for a day. Or, consider getting an internship where you can really gain some valuable experience and contacts. Professional associations are another excellent way to research careers and make connections. Most associations offer an array of continuing education programs, as well as various certifications that can open doors and provide additional training. If you’re struggling to find the right career, taking seminars on a variety of communication topics can be very helpful; more than likely, you’ll find topics and specialty areas that pique your interest.

With that said, you may prefer to work as a communication generalist. Generalists are typically well-versed in multiple communication areas and often perform a broad range of duties, from writing news releases and developing marketing materials, to managing projects and interacting with the media. Generalist positions can vary greatly, depending on the organization and industry. If you like a lot of variety, this could be the path for you.

Whatever communication career you ultimately choose, the key is being proactive about your success. That means not giving away your personal power to others. For example, when looking for a communications job, be sure to fully engage in the interview process by asking questions and thoroughly evaluating the company. Find out if the company provides coaching, mentoring or other professional development opportunities. Finally, know what your skills and talents are worth and negotiate the very best salary.

Remember, you are in control of your career destiny. Take the time to create a career map to ensure that you start – and stay – on the right path.

Learn More About Finding the Right Communication Career for You
Debra Davenport Ph.D. 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 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.