Bearcat Turned Professional
Written by Heather Nester (BA, Communication, '15)
When I first started at the University of Cincinnati I was not a Communication major. It wasn’t until I took a few Communication courses that I found a home inside of the field.
Before I pursued Communication as a double major with Psychology, I didn’t have a full understanding of where the degree could take me. I never would have imagined back then that it would lead me to a career in Higher Education in the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education at UC.
At the beginning of college I was wracked with so many questions:
“Did I make the right choice? Am I in the right major? Am I wasting my time getting an Arts & Sciences degree? How am I going to pay for this? Should I really have bought that coffee or should I have saved my money?”
The answers ended up being yes, yes, no, scholarships and part-time jobs, YES (treat yo’self). Basically, as much as I wanted to act like I did, I didn’t really know what I was doing in the long-term. I was away from home for the first time and experiencing the roller coaster of emotions attached to that ride. It wasn’t until I started to get involved at UC, specifically working for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, that I began to find my way. It was at that point that I realized that I needed to gain as much experience as I could while I had the opportunities available to me.
I became very involved on campus as a Tour Guide, an Academic Coach to Athletes, serving on hall associations, being active in multiple honoraries, etc. while trying to simultaneously be active in my specific collegiate fields. During my third year of college I served as a Vice President for Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s official honorary, as well.
I learned that experience, and connections, were going to be one of the most beneficial things I could do for myself if I wanted to work in Higher Education. The challenge, as it is with most industries, is that you have to find your way into the field before you can succeed.
To get in you almost already need experience – so the best thing you can do in college is find a way to gain experience where you can. Get yourself a foot in the door so that you can eventually have a seat at the table.
Once you have a seat at the table you can begin to make a difference in the field that you choose. I say that in such a broad sense because Communication can truly lead you to multiple fields. I currently work at UC as the Campus Relations Coordinator and as an Adjunct Professor for the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education. In my main position it is my job to be a liaison, and presenter, to our multiple campus partners to construct future projects.
As an adjunct professor I teach career education and how to succeed on co-op to engineering students. The experiences I had during my undergraduate career, whether it was student involvement or major involvement, helped provide me with the knowledge of how to assist other students.
Communication, besides my involvement in the major and the guidance I received as a part of Lambda Pi Eta, also helped give me the educational understanding of how individuals interact and interpret each other so I could help students prepare for their interviews.
Without a solid understanding of how individuals communicate with each other, and how to make connections through networking, I would not be able to help these future engineers succeed as effectively. As cliché as it sounds, getting involved is something that can benefit you in the future in unexpected ways. Especially when you are getting a degree in such a diverse field. I have friends that are UC Communication grads that ended up as academic advisors, social media coordinators, program coordinators for Hillel that travel internationally, working for business firms, human resource coordinators, recruiters, event planners, and so much more.
The difference you can make as a Communication alum is not limited to a specific niche. You just have to be willing to delve into yourself to figure out which niche of Communication your passion lies in.
Heather Nester | Nesterhm@ucmail.uc.edu | Cincinnati, Ohio Master’s of Arts – Human Resources Bachelor’s Degree – Psychology, Communication Certificate – Organizational Leadership – Human Resources