Communication. What does it mean to you?
We do it every day without thinking, but it is more than just talking.
In a personal setting, communication is the key to building and maintaining relationships with our family and friends.
In a corporate setting, communication creates relationships between employees and management and bridges the gap between organizations and its stakeholders. Communication serves a multitude of functions including helping a company prepare for or recover after a crisis, planning events to share its mission, and fundraising, among others. Corporate communication is more than just talking: it’s what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and to whom. It requires a coalescence of strategy, creativity and analysis to successfully connect with the intended audience.
“Communication is the heart of any organization. When communication is effective, then all the other parts of an organization work well together; if not, then the organization is failing,” said corporate communication faculty member and program coordinator Natalya Vodopyanova.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre's corporate communication program provides students with knowledge and practical experience in preparation for entering the job market. Students are offered exclusive opportunities on campus and in the community through their professors, Career Services, and other campus departments. Autumn Resauit, a Penn State Wilkes-Barre senior corporate communication student and valedictorian of the fall 2020 class, is applying what she has learned in the classroom by helping a long-standing craft fair continue amid the pandemic.
Resauit volunteers as the social media manager for Arts at Hayfield, a non-profit that seeks to provide enrichment for the arts in the Back Mountain and Wyoming Valley. She learned of the position last fall during a marketing course with Theresa Clemente, assistant teaching professor and business program coordinator. Resauit recalled Clemente starting class every day by announcing opportunities available for students, such as conferences or positions to gain experience.
“Mrs. Clemente was inspiring and always pushing us to try new things and be involved. By the end of October, I was managing the Facebook page for Arts at Hayfield. I owe it to Mrs. Clemente for sharing the opportunity and always encouraging us to apply our knowledge. She also motivated me to be a part of America 250 PA, an integrated marketing campaign competition to celebrate the 250th anniversary of our country,” said Resauit.
Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s corporate communication program prepares students for their career using a cross-disciplinary approach, tailoring the experience to fit each student. Along with communication courses, students complete coursework in business, information systems, human behavior, ethics and psychology. The interdisciplinary nature of the degree prepares students for a variety of communication career paths, such as television announcer, media manager, political aide, editorial assistant, and market research analyst, among others.
Students who graduate with a corporate communication degree from Penn State Wilkes-Barre can pursue a wide variety of careers in event planning, public relations, human resources, training and development, public information and marketing, among other options.
In June, Arts at Hayfield president and lecturer of arts and music at Penn State Jonathan Pineno contacted Resauit to break the news that the show was not going to happen. With the safety of the community in mind, Arts at Hayfield had cancelled both of its 2020 shows. Together, Resauit and the members of Arts at Hayfield, including former communications professor William Bachmann and math tutor Janis Winter, created the Hometown Traditions Craft Fair, which brings the annual in-person events online and pays homage to the Arts at Hayfield craft fair.
Resauit drafted a proposal for the virtual craft fair. The proposal gave an overview of the virtual craft fair and included specifics of how the event would function.
“In my external communication course, we learned about event planning,” said Resauit. “We did a project where we had to plan an entire event—start to finish—and research the financial aspects of it. It’s one thing to brainstorm about an event, but actually planning the logistics of it puts a lot into perspective. That hands-on experience helped me think realistically when writing the proposal for the virtual craft fair. And the time constraints of the project meant that we had to find a realistic, workable plan that could be implemented and maintained.”
Penn State Wilkes-Barre students are required to complete a 120-hour internship in the field. The Career Services office works with students in all majors, including corporate communication, to help them find internships with local businesses and organizations.
Career Services also offers Nittany Lion Careers to Penn State Wilkes-Barre students. Students and alumni can use the website to find employment and internship opportunities. Students can also work with department leaders to complete internships on campus. These positions help students build their résumé and professional skills and gain direct experience in the corporate communication field.
“Don’t be afraid to try everything that an organization has to offer to you as an intern,” said Vodopyanova. “An internship is a great opportunity for real-life, hands-on experience.”
Resauit said that prior to her work with Arts at Hayfield, she was unsure of the direction she wanted to go with her corporate communication degree. Her hands-on experience and the resources provided by Penn State Wilkes-Barre through her courses and professors helped Autumn find a path that was right for her. Following graduation, she would like to pursue a career in social media management.
“I’ve developed a love for analytics. That’s something I never thought I’d say,” said Resauit. “Social media and communications are a lot like designing a creative science project. You do lots of background research on demographics, previous campaigns and other factors. Then, you brainstorm ideas and find something that works. Next, you get to be creative and prepare the design elements. Finally, you get to put it into practice and begin measuring. It’s awesome when something works, and it’s equally as awesome when it doesn’t. I like to remain positive and as long as I’m learning, it’s beneficial to me.”
“Corporate communication is a broad field, and it provides a wide range of opportunities for our graduates because there are so many different directions you can go with your skills and the degree,” said Vodopyanova. “You can become a social media manager, a public relations manager or an event planner, to name a few. The corporate communication program at Penn State allows you to try to see what inspires you most and what aspect of corporate communication is the most interesting for you.”
“The field of corporate communication will continue to evolve with the development of digital media,” said Vodopyanova. “Students who choose corporate communication as their major and who learn to keep up with new technologies will be competitive in the job market.”
Penn State students have access to cutting-edge technology and gain practical experience using these technologies in their classes. In addition to what students learn in their classes, the Penn State library system, along with the software database and online learning courses, allows students to expand their knowledge outside of classes. Students have access to software such as Adobe Creative Cloud and LinkedIn Learning, which offers students video courses to supplement their courses or learn more about a specific topic.
“Through the resources available at Penn State, students can get everything they need to succeed,” said Vodopyanova. “The Nesbitt Academic Commons, various students services, free seminars and trainings, meetings and networking with alumni—all of these build up our students’ knowledge, skills and experiences. Students need to remember to utilize these resources more.”
When asked what she enjoyed most about the discipline of communication, Vodopyanova said, “It is great when people understand each other, which is achieved through effective communication. It is exciting to see when organizations engage in open, honest and ethical communication. And it is even more exciting when our graduates work in those organizations.”
Resauit said, “I’ve always been passionate about people. My favorite thing about corporate communication is that it brings people together when done correctly. The professors at Penn State Wilkes-Barre want students to be successful and do everything they can to achieve that. Without Mrs. Clemente, I would have never discovered my love for social media management. The opportunity at Arts at Hayfield, has helped me gain valuable knowledge and sculpt my understanding of social media.”