Southeast Missouri State University student publication

How mass communications students are finding their way after graduation

Monday, March 29, 2021
The Harold O. Grauel building at Southeast holds the department of mass communications. This is where a students' journey begins to help them find their own creative career paths post-graduation. Some students may feel overwhelmed after graduation, but the tools they learn here are how they will succeed.
Photo by Hannah Radden

What do a real estate agent and a potential Oscar Mayer Wienermobile driver have in common?

A degree in mass communications from Southeast Missouri State University.

This major allows a student to have unlimited creative flexibility in the career goal they want to pursue. While some students have a general idea of where to go after they graduate, mass communications graduates don't necessarily always have that confidence because of the open options the career provides.

Where do people go to pursue their majors in this field, and how do they know where to start?

Alex Bargen is a 2019 Mass Communications graduate who studied advertising at Southeast Missouri State University and worked the front desk for the department.

After his fall graduation, Bargen said he felt a little overwhelmed and found himself wondering, “Where do I even start?”

“I didn't know what direction I wanted to go to — if I wanted to go sales, or if I wanted to go design or, I wanted to do communication,” Bargen said. “It's a wide variety.”

Bargen said taking an inventory of his interests helped him in finding a career path he wanted to pursue.

“At the end of the day, I kind of just went back to the drawing board and was like, ‘What do I like to do, what do I enjoy doing?’ and kind of just play with my strengths,” Bargen said.

Through his search, Bargen found a job as an assistant account manager for Anheuser-Busch Phoenix Creative and is now pursuing a career in real estate.

“So, something you don't see from a lot of real estate agents is you have a lot of branding for yourself, which my advertising degree did help me out a lot,” Bargen said.

Since many mass communications students can relate to his situation, he said his advice is to not think there is a path you have to follow.

“The mass communications department at Southeast has so many hidden fields that you wouldn't even think of,” Bargen said. “I didn't even think real estate would even have to deal with any of my degree, and it is coming up every day, if not every hour.”

Bargen said he is constantly using skills he learned during his undergraduate education.

“So, don't think there's a path that you have to follow; there isn't a cookie-cutter. That's what I loved about the mass communications department. You kind of get your degree, and it's like a tool belt. You have to go build something. You have to go build your future,” Bargen said.

Fall 2020 public relations graduate Rebecca Purcell did have an idea of where her career direction would point to, but she also felt overwhelmed. Her career leaving Southeast Missouri started off during a pandemic, so the route she had in her mind shifted to more uncertainty.

“Although I felt like I knew what I wanted to do with my life, because of COVID, working in entertainment, especially with PR, isn't really an option right now,” Purcell said. “So, I've been having a rough time trying to find a job that I would want to do.”

Purcell knew she wanted to pursue her degree in the entertainment industry and had many ideas on the route she wanted to take, either through Disney corporations, music or working with sports leagues. However, now, she is looking to both traditional and nontraditional routes in public relations for herself.

Purcell said she has been applying for all types of jobs involving her degree to have options, but still is a little picky when applying. “If I apply somewhere, I want to love my job, and I want to love going to work every day,” Purcell said.

Her open creative mindset has led her in many directions for her job searches. Through this mindset, Purcell said she even applied for the position to be a driver for the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile because “it is like a PR studio on wheels.”

“Even if you feel lost after graduation, it’s important to get your foot in the door whenever you can and find somewhere you can learn to grow,” Purcell said.

Through the many doors a degree in mass communications opens, graduated students are still finding ways to pursue their own paths and interests within their major.