Communication is important now more than ever but it’s not always verbal. Many students are entering into a post-graduation world that largely relies on social media interactions and engagement. Whether that’s an innovative marketing campaign or Zoom meetings or group message work chats, employees are expected to navigate these platforms in a professional manner. The communication department has ensured that competency in operating in these new workplace norms is an asset they can give to their students.
Even before the era of virtual events and Zoom classes, Dr. Taleyna Morris, Senior Instructor of Communication, prioritized professional development in her curriculum.
In Fall 2019, Morris taught a course in small group communication. One of the assignments asked students to work together virtually and to her surprise, only one group utilized a platform like Zoom.
“Almost everyone else did something else like texting or email or a Google Doc. Now everyone’s on Zoom,” explained Morris.
In her role as faculty advisor for Missouri State’s Lambda Pi Eta honor society chapter, Morris has also addressed how social networks have affected hiring practices. In October 2019, the honor society featured a guest speaker who lectured on using social media in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of promoting oneself professionally. It has become common practice for an employer to look at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile. Having a professional social media presence is now essential for students interested in setting themselves apart from a sea of applicants.
“We want to have a balance where we still strongly promote and emphasize graduate education, and explore opportunities in undergraduate education for things like attending conferences, but also bring in or talk about what happens if that’s not your path,” Morris said regarding her goals as faculty advisor for the honor society.
Lambda Pi Eta is an honor society for undergraduate communication studies majors. Although students must meet a specific GPA requirement to join, the department also offers organizations that are open to all communication studies students. This includes a brand-new organization, the Communication Studies Society, launched just this year by department head, Dr. Brian L. Ott. Assistant Professor Dr. Carissa Hoelscher recently held a seminar devoted entirely to the process of applying for graduate school. On November 4, Assistant Professor Dr. Steven Spates will present on how to prepare an undergraduate paper for conference submission.
With this shift to focus more on social media in the communication field, one thing becomes clear—as the world changes, the communication department is dedicated to setting their students up for success.