I’m always trying to plan ahead, constantly thinking five years into the future.
A really bad habit of mine is actually getting on Apartments.com about three times a week to “just browse apartments I could live in one day” in a few cities that fit my “five-year plan.” I also do this on LinkedIn, but with job titles. I keep a running list of job postings that interest me and am constantly trying to uncover how I can be the “perfect candidate” for whatever job title I have decided I will be pursing post-graduation that week.
How I Picked My AOE
When I first applied to the IMC graduate program and learned about the option to have an area of emphasis, I was extremely excited. I loved the idea of adding an extra layer to my studies, something I could bring to my future interviews. I was also able to take IMC 510 during my undergraduate degree, so the additional course required for an AOE wouldn’t impact my graduation or number of required courses. I knew I wanted to diversify my skill set. Having a public relations undergraduate degree and a minor in medical humanities and health, I ruled out the Healthcare and PR Leadership AOE but wasn’t sure what to pick from the remaining options.
The last few months of my undergraduate program, as I was getting ready to schedule my summer IMC courses, I got stuck on a new job title — “brand manager.” I loved the idea of being “the boss” of a specific product and completely owning my projects. Many of these positions often prefer a candidate who has their MBA, along with experience in the industry that relates to the product/company.
When I first started my graduate school journey, I actually strongly considered getting my MBA. I liked the idea of studying business, I had enjoyed the marketing and economics courses I took in undergrad, but I wasn’t in love with the full curriculum. I knew I wanted to continue to grow my creative and analytic skills, but with more of a focus on people and individual motivations, rather than financial motivation and transactions.
With the words “brand manager” on my mind at the time, I thought taking up an area of emphasis in management was the perfect way to hit that “MBA preferred” requirement. I enrolled in my first course in the AOE in Management this summer, “Negotiation Strategy,” and I am more than happy with my decision. Business is part of the core of all decisions and, as someone who wants to be the one in charge one day, it’s something I will need to be able to speak to and understand.
Now, if you asked me at this very moment what I want to do post-graduation, there is very little chance I will tell you brand manager. In fact, this week’s title is “creative strategist,” and my interest is in developing creative plans and pitching them. However, I am still extremely happy with my decision and I know it will support me in whatever job title I go after.
An AOE is meant to specify your program focus, or it can be used to diversify your studies — it’s all about how you present your choice to take part in one to a future employer. These tracts give you yet another qualification to help position yourself as the “perfect candidate” for the career you want, and that’s exactly what my “super planner” self was looking for, no matter what my title ends up being.
Emily Zekonis ( @EmilyZekonis) is a first-year graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications with an Area of Emphasis in Management. She is from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania and holds a B.S.J. in Strategic Communications with an area of emphasis in Public Relations from West Virginia University. Follow along with her graduate adventures on the Marketing Communications Today Blog.
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