Written by Maureen Boeing (BA, Communication, '89)
Well, writing this blog post is one way I use my communication skills learned oh so many years ago.
But seriously, I must admit my career spanning 25 years in the insurance world wasn’t what I initially had planned for myself back in 1989 when I graduated with a B.A. in Communication Arts and certificates in Professional Practice (AKA Co-Op) and Business Writing. However, in this career that found me, I have utilized every single one of my communication skills learned in college.
I didn’t even realize how lucky I was to have the communication background to help me in my career until my husband (who has spent over 32 years in sales) said to me after a particularly stressful day that he wished he had been taught more communication skills back in college while getting his Finance degree. He further explained that he spends most of his days crafting emails and making calls to communicate his sales message. Sales isn’t just knowing how to sell. These days when email is king, being able to communicate your message via the spoken and written word is more important than ever. Being able to adapt to many mediums of communication is extremely important in many career choices.
After hearing his perspective, I thought back to the multitude of ways I have used my communication skills in my career, almost without knowing it. It started simply with my first job as a receptionist – where, you could argue, being able to clearly understand and communicate with callers is a vital component of success in that position.
It progressed to learning insurance concepts and being able to explain in plain language to insurance customers exactly what they were buying and why, to relate it to their own personal financial situation. Being able to take complex knowledge and concepts from any industry and explain or relate them to a consumer demonstrates the importance of excellent communication skills.
Over the years, I became involved in an insurance software association and founded a local chapter of that association, serving as its first president. Suddenly, those many speech classes came in very handy as I found myself addressing a group of 40 fellow insurance colleagues on a quarterly basis.
During my career, my interest in the association and its mission grew. I was excited to learn and to share knowledge about the automation software used in the industry. Fast forward five years and I was now presenting at meetings around the country teaching fellow insurance agents about the automation software. As any educator knows, communication skills – being able to read your audience and adapt your message for example – are vital to passing on knowledge. Being able to read their responses, body language and other non-verbal cues, helped me to know whether I was making an impact and imparting knowledge to those in attendance.
At the same time as my association involvement developed, my responsibilities in my job were growing as I was part of starting a local insurance agency. In the new and unchartered waters of starting a business, I was able to rely on my confident ability to ask questions and communicate at all levels of a business environment – with lawyers and accountants, with regulatory licensing agencies, etc. I often think the years I spent in college helped teach me to research, understand, and research more until I was comfortable with a concept. The same goes in any field – you learn, understand, and learn more.
A few years ago, I found myself starting yet another business. This one my very own. You see, over the years, I developed a passion for sharing the knowledge and skills I had learned over my career. I now share those experiences with other agencies across the country. But it’s more than sharing – it’s learning what is important to them, how they operate and what are their goals. I think of what I do as more than education, it’s partnering with a client to help them envision their future and help them achieve it.
So, when you reflect on your choice of Communication Arts as a major, and wonder what you can do with the skills and knowledge you are learning, remember that they are helping you form who you are and how you can communicate in any position. Find something you are interested in and take it from there.
Maureen Boeing (BA 1989) works with insurance agencies to understand their current operations and identify a path for them to meet their goals for profitability and future growth. Maureen has an extensive understanding and knowledge of agency operations and best practices, including all aspects of an independent agency, from startup to system automation, training and management, to accounting and reporting, as well as client service. She led her agency to be one of the very first agencies to implement Applied Epic (TM) in early 2009. In addition, Maureen has 20 years of Applied Client Network (formerly ASCnet (TM)) volunteer experience, from starting a local chapter to chairing national committees and serving on the board of directors, including as Chair in 2012. Maureen became an Applied Client Network Master Presenter in 2000, and have presented at many Applied Client Network annual conferences and chapter meetings around the world.