Careers in Communication & Media

Communication and Media careers involve dealing with the creation and transmission of messages from large organizations (businesses, governments, and institutions) to the public. These messages can be transmitted through various media, from news articles, blogs, and company letters to new media like Twitter and LinkedIn. Given the changes in the field, and the new media now available, there is also more emphasis on interacting with and responding to the public.

Pathways Header Communication Media

Broad areas within this field include:

  • Communication, those who transmit messages to the public from various sources; 
  • Public Relations, individuals within or associated with organizations that develop the message and work with the media to present a unified picture of their organization; and 
  • Social Media, a new niche created by the success of Facebook and Twitter, where employees direct and manage the companies online presence through their web content, tweets and posts on social network sites. 

This field may be a fit for you if you are interested in persuasive communications, would like to promote an organization, have experience and interest in social media, or can make a great comment in 140 characters or less! English majors, with their experience in constructing arguments and deconstructing meanings from various texts, as well as their study of cultural texts, are uniquely prepared to create the persuasive and culturally meaningful messages required in today’s culture. 

Click on the drop down boxes below for more information.

Communication/Media/Journalism

Journalists and the media play an important role in our society, spreading objective knowledge of events that occur. Over the past few years, technology has dramatically altered the field, creating new ways to share information to include multimedia, online, photojournalism, as well as print and broadcast.

Careers in this field require an especially strong preparation in writing and oral communication skills (for interviews). Coursework or a double major in journalism could be particularly helpful in securing full-time employment after graduation. Internships are also especially vital in this field, as they provide hands-on experience and additional skills for your resume that employers may want to see. You may also want to consider working part-time for the Diamondback or the campus radio station. Create a portfolio of writing samples to share with potential employers or, for those interested in broadcast, collect clips.

Related Jobs Include: Reporter, Blogger, Copy Editor, Columnist, Cartoonist, Broadcast Journalist, Videographer, Publisher

**Very closely related to Careers in Writing***

Public Relations

Careers in public relations offer the opportunity to work with the media rather than for it. This field requires especially strong verbal and written communication skills, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills and attention to detail. Public relations handles the image of an organization or, in the cases of a celebrity, a person. Public relations positions exist in the private sector/corporate world, as well as within the government and non-profit sectors. Additional coursework in business and/or public relations could be helpful. Internships are also especially important in this field, as are writing samples. Social media skills are becoming vitally important as well.

Related Jobs Include: Public relations/marketing specialist, Media Affairs Specialist, Event Coordinator, Brand Manager, Communication Strategist, Fundraiser, Publicist, Public Information Officer, Grantwriter

Social Media

In many ways, social media is the new form of a classic field: marketing. It is very popular with organizations because it offers nearly instantaneous contact with customers for very little money. Consumers can even help market companies or products themselves by “liking” a page on Facebook or pinning an item on Pinterest, etc. Careers related to social media have exploded with an astonishing 1,000% increase since 2010 (based on LinkedIn job postings). Keep in mind that many jobs now require some use of social media, even if it is not in the job title.

To be a successful candidate, you must be a strong and creative writer and demonstrate passion for and knowledge of all of the major social media platforms and most of the smaller ones. Be sure to demonstrate your social media skills on application documents by including links to your social media accounts and, it goes without saying, your content on these platforms should be professional.  Think of creative ways to engage with employers of interest via social media. Use social media to stay updated on trends in the field (which change by the day, if not the minute!). Find ways to use social media professionally, not just personally—i.e., volunteer to handle the Facebook page for your student group or start a Twitter feed for your department. Follow thought leaders across social media platforms to observe how they do what they do.

Related Jobs Include: Social Media Coordinator, PR/Brand Manager, Blogger, Online Community Manager, Social Media Strategist, Communications Associate, Program Assistant

Alumni Within the Field

Kelly

John Kelly, 1984. Journalist, The Washington Post

"There is no better preparation for a life spent writing than four years spent reading."

The recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Arts of Humanities and keynote speker at Access2Alumni 2014, John Kelly writes a column on the District's citizens for the Washington Post. Read more about John.

Pamela Morse, 2000. Director of Communications, Division of Research, UMD

"Research stories are human stories, whether the research is basic or applied."

A graduate of the English and Women's Studies programs, Pamela develops strategic communication strategy for the Division of Research. Read more about Pamela.

Dave McConnell Young

Dave McConnell, 1959. Congressional Correpondent, Washington's Top News Radio (WTOP)

"It isn't so much that you learn dates and facts, but a perspective of events - a narrative - which is important for a reporter."

Dave McConnell has been a voice of WTOP for the last 50 years, first as a general reporter and then as the station's congressional correspondent. Read more about Dave.

Getting Started

If you’re interested in a career in this field, here are some ways you can start preparing:

Where to Learn More

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Media and Communication - Information on Public Relations Specialists, Reporters, Correspondents and more.

Career Profiles: Media & Communication Careers - Overview of popular media and communication careers (News Analysts, Public Relations Specialist, etc.) with information about opportunities, training requirements and job outlook.

Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) - The principal association for public relations professionals; provides professional development (opportunities for learning and accreditation), research, news and articles and well as networks and contacts with other PR professionals.

Society of Professional Journalists - Organization for journalism advocacy and professional development.

National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) - Association for radio and television braodcasters with information about innovation and current issues within each area, advocacy resources and information and events/networking opportunities.

University of Maryland's Career Center – Visit Careers4Terps, a jobs/internship database exclusively for UMD students; also see the events calendar for networking opportunities, and events.

LinkedIn – Search for groups to join with the keywords “public relations”, “communication”, “social media”, “journalism”. You can also search for alumni who work in communication-related positions to get a better idea for job titles and organizations in the field as well as to make new networking connections.