Job Hunting During a Pandemic
When Madison Duffy put her career hold for graduate school, she didn’t foresee a global pandemic dampening her Spring 2019 graduation or her post-graduation job hunt.
“I decided to get my master’s degree because while I loved the job I was in, I didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my full potential,” Duffy said. “I felt like my strengths were somewhere else.”
The sea of job prospects Duffy had envisioned for herself just a few months prior to her graduation evaporated, becoming essentially nonexistent with the emergence of COVID-19. According to an Economic Policy Institute study, unemployment rates for young workers rose 16% from spring 2019 to spring 2020. Such findings bear out Duffy’s experience, telling a story of uncertainty in the midst of an economic downturn.
Equipped with her master’s degree in mass communications from Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communication however, Duffy found herself with a considerable advantage in the job market.
“No one was hiring, and there were a lot of hiring freezes,” Duffy said. “Even then, I was able to find contract jobs. People might not be able to hire me fulltime, but they saw my education and wanted to hire me to work on different projects. So, my master’s degree just opened up so many opportunities.”
Duffy’s graduate degree continued to distinguish her as a job candidate, despite graduating into the worst job markets in decades. At the height of the pandemic, she finally landed the kind of job she dreamed for herself when she first returned to school.
Now, in her role as an account coordinator at a marketing, public relations and social media agency, Duffy attributes her much of her success to the skills she refined as a graduate student.
“Having a background in communications, not just as an undergraduate but also with a graduate degree, prepared me to be able to work in different kinds of environments,” Duffy said. “Whether that is with a very easy client who is very happy and goes with the flow or whether that is a very intense client who has to follow a lot of rules, I think a master’s degree in communications from SMSC teaches you to excel with both.”
Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communication works vigorously to ensure that graduates like Duffy are prepared to excel in any job market. The in-depth understanding of the changing communication landscape students acquire in the graduate program opens up a vast landscape of job opportunities. To learn more about how this program can enhance your communication expertise and job prospects, visit https://media.okstate.edu/graduate-studies.
The Barrier-Breaking Power of a Master’s Degree
The idea of going to graduate school can be daunting, but Elizabeth Gosney knew it was the change she needed.
Her job with a corporate retail company, where she had worked for more than four years, made her feel more like a cubicle drone than a creative writer. She scoured graduate programs across the nation until deciding on attending Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communication.
“I had been toying with the idea of going back to school for several years before I came to OSU in 2019,” Gosney said. “It was such a perfect fit in terms of location, cost and opportunity, that every other schooling option I was considering fell away.”
During the 18 months that followed, Gosney flourished. She refined not only her communication skills, but also further developed the ability to be personally effective in applying those skills in fluctuating communication environments.
Now, three months away from graduating with her master’s degree in mass communications, Gosney is poised to realize her life dream of serving others through nonprofit work.
“I felt stagnant in my career before applying to graduate school, but more than that, I didn't feel like I was helping anyone,” Gosney said. “Time will tell how my master's degree will help me with my career, but I definitely feel more capable than I ever have before.”
Gosney’s reasons for returning to school mirror those of thousands of graduate school applicants across America. As the world of work rapidly changes, many individuals are applying to graduate school to maximize the opportunities they will have throughout their lives.
With the many advantages of earning an advanced degree, such as higher income potential, career advancement, specialized expertise and sharpened critical thinking skills, it’s no wonder that more than 19 million people in the U.S. — about 13 percent of the population — now have a master's degree.
Increasingly, master’s programs are tailored for today’s action-packed personal and professional lives. Oklahoma State University in particular is continually looking afresh at how it can better provide on-going educational opportunities to students seeking advanced degrees in any phase of life.
With over 200 master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate programs on three campuses and online, OSU is a superior option for anyone looking to expand their knowledge and enrich their career opportunities.
To learn more about graduate opportunities at Oklahoma State University, visit https://gradcollege.okstate.edu. For more information about Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communication’s graduate program, check out https://media.okstate.edu/graduate-studies.
Students Engage in Groundbreaking Research with the MESA Group
Pursuing a career in research wasn’t on Kelli Norton’s agenda when she began her journey as a graduate student at Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communications.
Norton initially planned to use her undergraduate degree in plant biology to pursue a career in science journalism. However, she quickly discovered her passion for communication research while tackling data to shape migration-related policies with the Media Ecology and Strategic Analysis (MESA) Group.
“I wanted to be able to give and further the knowledge in an area to help people, which is what drew me to the MESA Group,” Said Norton. “The research they’re doing helps the here and now. It solves real word problems.”
Founded in 2018, the MESA Group is an interdisciplinary research cohort that aims to address the mounting need for strategic narrative assessment as a tool for promoting cooperative assistance and creating community power. The group’s latest published work, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, identified tangible actions US officials can take to reframe the broader narratives concerning Northern Triangle migration around longer-term solutions and visions.
Norton first became familiar with the MESA Group during a graduate welcome reception. Although she had no research experience in the communication field, Norton was looking to get involved with ongoing research in meaningful way. The MESA Group offered her a unique opportunity to cultivate her research skills and technical acumen.
“Being able to work on research that is going directly to people who can make a difference is huge,” Norton said “That’s something that I wouldn’t probably get to do until ten years down the line if it wasn’t for the MESA Group.”
Now in her second semester as a graduate student, Norton, has had ample opportunities to conduct research for MESA Group collaborators, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense, and various branches of the Joint Forces, thanks to the MESA Group’s close relationship with these National agencies.
Dr. Skye Cooley, co-founder of the MESA Group, explained that the main advantage for students who take on research positions with the MESA Group is the variety of experiences they get as part of the group.
“We do our best to open doors for our MESA interns so they can see what it is like to be a professional researcher serving and working for the US government,” Cooley said.
In addition to taking part in every phase of MESA Group research projects, student researchers also have access to a broad network of speakers' series and conferences across the Strategic Multi-layered Assessment group in the Pentagon and the Near East Policy Institute.
Graduate research opportunities with the MESA Group have also been instrumental for Ellie Melero, a first year graduate student studying Mass Communications. Her and Norton’s current research with the MESA group research focuses on understanding the role foreign news media plays to better understand how the world viewed the US 2016 presidential election.
“When we're done with the election study we're going to write an article and try to get it published,” Melero said. “A published research article will be something really cool to have on my resume when I graduate.”
Experiences like Norton’s and Melero’s are far from unusual for both undergraduate and graduate students at Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communications. Oklahoma State University is committed to fostering research opportunities and partnerships that lead to scholastic achievement. As a result, there are numerous opportunities for students interested in pursuing varied research topics, including international communication, political advertising,nonprofit management and more.
Undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in learning more about research opportunities with the MESA Group can visit mesagroup.okstate.edu to learn more.