Many people ask why a student would choose to study Communication – why bother? What does a degree in Communication ‘give’ you? What can you really do, what good jobs can you get with a Communication degree? Communication, like other Humanities degrees, is often seen as a luxury “that employment-minded students can ill afford” (New York Times June 18, 2013).
Like many others, I would argue that communication is an important engine of the 21st century as daily life, including our work lives, is shaped by the fact that we live in a smaller, more connected, more globalised world. Communication is at the core of this, allowing us to explore and learn about other cultures, strengthen social ties, create business and personal relationships, and facilitate exchange of information. Good communication is crucial at all levels of our lives, from the very personal, everyday interactions we have with family, friends and colleagues through to creating effective, supportive workplaces, the relationships corporations have with their clientele, how ideas are communicated via mass media, e-commerce and the promotion of political policies. Communication is so fundamental on so many levels it is important to study its mechanisms so that we better understand its internal workings to give us a much broader understanding of the world around us, and of how we can influence it. Effective communication is also an important driving force for innovation and progress, and is at the core of every successful business.
In addition to providing graduates with valuable, employment enhancing skills such as team work, critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills, and strong writing and speaking skills that can be used in their professional lives, Communication studies also give graduates important personal insights into the world that can broaden their horizons and concepts of the world, allowing them to see the ‘big picture’. This aspect is personally rewarding and enriching and is also highly regarded by employers as this exposure to diverse ideas gives graduates a broad knowledge base that prepares them for evolving challenges in global cultural, political and business environments that are subject to ongoing changes. Their ability to think widely and critically about issues and see relationships makes graduates invaluable to employers, and opens up employment possibilities in a wide range of sectors.
While most graduates will look to finding employment in business sectors where their skills are needed to communicate with a client base, market products and services, and manage issues and crises, graduates also find work in communication based industries such as public relations, online communication, broadcasting, politics and film. Many of these industries are growing, some very quickly, and need skilled professionals. So not only can Communication graduates find work within fields traditionally thought of as ‘communication’, such as publicity, journalism or public relations, their skills are in demand in all business sectors including healthcare, financial services, information technology, community organisations, manufacturing, mining and government relations to list a few.
Far from being a ‘luxury’ qualification, Communication is an exciting, dynamic and fast evolving area of study and work and a degree in Communication gives students a wide range of employment options both in terms of the type of work they undertake and the industry sectors in which they can be employed.
Jennifer Honor, Learning and Teaching Consultant, UTS Insearch
Jennifer has a Master of Applied Linguistics, Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning and a Diploma in Business Administration and Management.
Jennifer has worked in the tertiary education sector for 15 years, in regional universities in the Northern Territory and Queensland, teaching and managing pathways programs tailored for Indigenous learners on and off community and teaching in undergraduate communication, sociology and academic literacy subjects.