When I first started my online Master’s in Strategic Communication at American University, I was just completing my Graduate Diploma at Concordia University in Montreal. AU was my first experience with online courses, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into. I was also moving back to the DC area and starting at new job at the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States. I was excited for this job, because this was my first time working in a communications department, so I was finally getting some work experience in the field. On the other hand, I was nervous that I was taking on too much between school and working full-time. I am not going to say it has been a walk in the park, but it has been great to be able to see first-hand how what I am learning in school is being applied in the field.
When I first started in the communications department, I would hear a lot of the terminology I was learning about in class thrown around in meetings. At first this was a bit daunting, as I just finished my undergraduate degree and I felt a bit unqualified because I was just starting to grasp these concepts that everyone in the office was so familiar with. After about a week, I decided to see this as an opportunity, anytime I was confused or wanted to better understand a concept, I would walk up to that department and ask questions. This not only helped me better network with my employees, but it also helped me in my courses. I was provided not only with a definition, but hands-on examples, and was even given the opportunity to contribute! What I once saw as an obstacle was now helping me succeed in my courses!
I have been working at the bank for about four months now, and during this time I have had the amazing opportunity to work in an environment that is directly related to what I am learning. For example, as I was learning how to craft press releases and learn effective ways to reach out to the press, I began working with the Media team on researching and reaching out to journalists across the world for the Chairman of EXIM’s upcoming trips. Many of the projects I work on at EXIM I have learned about in class, which has helped improve both my performance at school and at work. The synergy between work and school is both helpful and motivating, it makes all of the work I do feel purposeful and helpful in both my academic and professional career.
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