Since its introduction eighteen short months ago, the Corporate Communication program has gone from a blossoming field of study to a real world success story for the degree’s first three graduates.
By: Rachel Olszewski
“In today’s economic climate, our students need to be afforded every advantage in order to reach their ultimate goals; whether that be post grad work, a career path, etc,” explains Director of Academic Affairs, Albert Lozano-Nieto. “Just shy of two years ago, I named the corporate communication program a blossoming fields of study and now we see that this program truly afforded our first three graduates that advantage!”
Penn State Wilkes-Barre introduced the Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication in the 2014-2015 academic year. With its cross-disciplinary course work in business, information systems, human behavior, and oral, written, visual communication and required field experience, the program provides a broad foundation in business principles, including team projects and problem solving; ethics; oral, written and visual communication skills; and psychology. The major is designed to prepare students for a variety of career fields including human resources, public relations, training and development, and public information.
“When I first entered the program, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into or where I wanted to take my career,” says Stephanie Bartz, one of the program’s first three graduates. “I had just finished watching the television series Mad Men and thought, how do I become Peggy Olson?”
Stephanie Bartz at the Starcom Mediavest offices in New York
Credit: Penn State
Bartz, currently a junior associate at Starcom Mediavest NYC assigned to the Samsung account, praises the Wilkes-Barre faculty for their role in her path.
“I regularly draw on what I learned, and it has helped me to confidently enter the workforce. I am very grateful for the faculty who encouraged me to learn outside the classroom and seek out a variety of internships, and I don’t think I’d be where I am now without their support,” states Bartz.
Chelsea English, another of the three graduates, looks back at her internship opportunities as the turning point for helping her transition to the “real world.”
“Not only do the professors prepare you from inside the classroom, but they require hands on work in the field, which provides so much beneficial growth for each student. By requiring internship credits, I gained valuable experience in my field, which in turn secured me employment after my internship, which is ultimately what us college graduates all hope for,” explains English. “I had the opportunity to complete numerous internships during my time at Penn State, both in the Marketing Communications Office on Campus, and the Salisbury Management Behavioral Health Company. At Salisbury, I worked closely with our school, New Story, which serves students who have been diagnosed with autism and/or emotional/behavioral disorders. I feel honored that my internship afforded me the opportunity to market and communicate the incredible services we offer to individuals in need.”
“The internship program that is incorporated into the curriculum is a key in the overall learning process. Being able to take principles and concepts learned in the classroom and apply them to real work scenarios in a protected environment was immeasurable,” states McCann. “This program gave me the building blocks I needed to feel confident going into an interview and accurately translating my classroom experience into the work force.”
Offered as a consortium by Penn State Hazleton, Schuylkill, Wilkes-Barre, and Worthington Scranton, a portion of the program courses are offered as online components which require motivation, dedication, time management and organizational skills. McCann acknowledges that she draws upon these skills on a daily basis in her post college world.
Alexa McCann at the Hugo Boss NYC offices
Credit: Penn State
“I am currently the Production Coordinator for Hugo Boss Fashions in New York City. In this role I am in charge of; tracking deliveries coming from outside suppliers, being a liaison with the corporate office team members in Germany, directing interns in the Merchandising/Production team, as well as placing purchase orders for each wholesale and retail team both in and outside of the office,” says McCann. “I am everyday faithfully communicating with my team members and want to be sure my organizational skills are up to Hugo Boss standards, as this role requires the ability to stay organized as well as the ability to multitask. I always knew what my strengths were, such as relationship building, and liked the fact that my degree played towards them. The corporate communication degree built upon the foundational skills I already had.”
Bartz agrees, “My responsibilities include gathering data and information from sources across all media vehicles, understanding our consumer audiences, and supporting the team to make the Samsung story come to life. Comparing my college experience to my “real world” experience, in any communication job there is not a day that goes by you won’t find yourself working together with a team to reach a common goal. In the corporate communication program, group work is highly encouraged and often required, and learning how to be a good team member has played a big part in working cohesively with my Samsung team.”