How I Learned to Embrace Choice

26 Feb

Lauren Taccone

As I approach graduation in May, I find myself reflecting on how I got here.  I started at Kent State as a exploratory major in Fall 2011.  I was fresh out of high school– nervous and doe-eyed– and overwhelmed with the thought of having to decide on a career at the age of 18.  Like many college students, the first major I chose was not the major I ended with.  I began as a Broadcast Journalism major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  I was drawn to the major because I loved the multimedia aspect and enjoyed the interviewing and writing skills I was developing.  As I progressed in the program, I began to have doubts about whether reporting was something I wanted to make a career out of.  Thankfully, I found Communication Studies and I realized it still encompassed all of the things I loved about Journalism, but with a much broader scope.  I have been in the Communication Studies program for about three semesters now and I have to say that it was the right switch.  I have had great experiences with the courses, faculty, and students, and I really feel at home in Taylor Hall.

While I love my major and I have learned a lot, I still can’t shake that feeling of uncertainty.  Through my courses, I have learned about the multitude of possibilities that exist with a Communication Studies degree; however, I have struggled to find my niche and exactly what path I want to take with my degree.  Whenever I tell people my major, I always get asked, “What do you want to do with that?”  I usually feel a slight drop in my stomach and I respond with an answer about what I could do and some prepared statement about how I’m still trying to figure it out.  I would always dread answering this question because it invokes fear in me that I don’t have it all figured out, and maybe I’m destined for failure.  But lately, I’ve found a different way to answer this question.My

If you can do so much with a Communication Studies degree, then why am I putting so much pressure on myself to find just one thing I want to do with it?

Now when someone asks me what I want to do with my degree, I tell them “Everything.” With my Communication Studies background, I have learned written, visual, and oral communication skills that can be translated into a number of careers.  I have critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to work in groups with people of all different backgrounds.  Who’s to say that I have to take just one path? I love that my major sets me up to do whatever I want with it. I love that I have the opportunity to do so many different things, that I can change careers at any time if I so wish.

So if you find that you feel overwhelmed with options like I did, and you don’t know which path to take, then I say, take a deep breath, step back and marvel at all the paths you can take.  Communication Studies is a versatile degree and you can take it any direction(s) you wish.  If you find you don’t like one, then try something different.  And remember, when it feels like you have too many choices, be thankful that you already made one really good choice: Communication Studies.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren Taccone

Meet Newest Members of the Communication Studies Student Marketing Team

9 Feb

Welcome Melissa Elick and Lauren Taccone,

Communication Studies Student Marketing Team Members for 2015

Melissa Elick & Lauren Taccone

Melissa Elick & Lauren Taccone


Melissa Elick and Lauren Taccone are student members of the marketing team for the School of Communications. They will assist staff with key marketing initiatives and special events for the School during Spring Semester 2015.

Elick and Taccone are completing the Public Relations and Marketing Practicum, working with Khalil Dixon, marketing communications and public relations specialist and Margaret Garmon, marketing coordinator.

As team members, Elick and Taccone will attend marketing meetings for the College of Communication and Information and assist with school promotion, marketing strategies, social media, and public relations. They will help plan events, such as Hyde Park Forum, Undergraduate Awards Reception and Lambda Pi Eta Induction. Both will welcome potential new students at university-wide recruitment events for high schools visiting campus.

“We want our interns and practicum students to tell potential employers that they have the professional experience necessary to transition into workplace. This includes designing and producing marketing materials, maintaining a dynamic presence on multiple social media sites, and preparing website content for school,” Garmon said.

In helping to promote the school, these team members contribute original ideas for stories about fellow students and suggest ways to best share information with students, faculty and staff.

Elick is a junior in the applied communication concentration. She is working on two minors in event planning and public relations.

“I’m very excited for this opportunity to strengthen my communication, writing and organizational skills to help me in the future. I look forward to all of the great things this semester will bring,” Elick said.

Elick will serve as the liaison between the communication studies marketing team and Kent Communication Society to help promote collaborative community outreach events. This includes Relay for Life set for April 17 and 18, an annual event to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

She is a member of the sorority Alpha Phi and holds a position of Director of Watch Care within the organization to assist members with maintaining a social media presence that projects a professional image. In her free time, she enjoys running, painting and planning charity events. Elick is from Cuyahoga Falls and plans to graduate in spring of 2016.

Taccone chose the communication studies major after switching from a broadcast journalism major in an effort to expand her

skill set. In addition to honing her writing and public speaking skills, Taccone has learned other practical skills, such as working with small groups, in the Communication in Small Groups and Teams course, in which she and her group raised $1,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Taccone is excited to have this opportunity to gain experience and apply the skills she has learned in class, as well as learn new skills that will help her in a communications career.

“My goals as a Public Relations and Marketing Intern is to learn public relations tactics and writing style while working in a large organizational setting,” Taccone said.

Taccone is a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association honor society. She also works as a bartender at Bar 145 in downtown Kent. Her hobbies and interests include cooking, reading, music, and yoga. Taccone’s hometown is Erie, Pa. She plans to graduate in spring 2015.


CCI Retreat: A Student Assistants Perspective

4 Feb

IMG_5659Last Week I had the pleasure of joining the faculty and staff of the College of Communication and Information for a luncheon retreat. As one of the only students there I was a bit intimidated walking in. However, everyone was friendly and welcoming. I’m not surprised at this because it was a communication luncheon and many of the people there are some of the best communicators on campus. The friendliness and open communication is what drew me into Comm studies as a major in the first place.

I had the pleasure of meeting Professor and Director Paul Haridakis at this luncheon. I also saw the always friendly Jennifer Kramer, Director of Public Relations and Marketing Communications for Kent State University, who I met earlier this week at a Marketing Council meeting. Having the opportunity to make an appearance at these events is truly inspiring. Being around successful and intelligent people shows me where I want to be when I graduate. What I’ve gathered from this meeting is that the faculty and staff here at CCI does whatever they can for their students to succeed. There was a short presentation of a new tool that students can use. It is called and students and faculty have the ability to log-in and watch tutorials on various programs. Some of these include Blackboard, Photoshop and InDesign just to name a few. It is always nice when administrators present us with helpful tools. I look forward to using this new tool in my work for the Communication Studies office and I encourage any one else who is a CCI major to take advantage of this program.

It was only the second week being the Marketing and Public Relations Assistant and I have already experienced so much and met so many people. I can hardly contain my excitement for all the projects I will be working on this semester. I can’t wait to share more of my experiences so stay tuned!

End of my College Career

5 Dec

Well, its that time of the semester when everything is dwindling down and finals are here. For me, I only have one final exam and one paper left of my college career and then I’m done…forever. Or at least until I decide to go back to school for my masters. My experience interning with the School of Communication Studies was awesome and I had so much fun working with Margaret and Khalil. I have gained so much experience and learned so much about interviewing, writing for the media, and editing websites. I will use all those skills after I graduate in many different ways. Not only did I learn a lot from my internship but my whole experience being a Communication Major has really changed me intellectually. I have learned so many great communication and writing skills that I know I am prepared to work in the “real world” and get that “big girl job”.

046To be honest, I am kinda sad that I am leaving the School of Communication Studies because I have gained a lot of knowledge and friendships here. The faculty and staff are already asking me to come back and visit and to more freshman recruitment as an alumni which I am very excited about. I will always come back to the place that has changed me for the good and visit my friends and “school family” (I guess you could call it).

Even after I graduate, I will always recommend to anyone interested in going to college to pick a communication major because of all the opportunities it brings and the knowledge. Having a communications degree has definitely brought many opportunities my way and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to have this major. This major has gotten me two internships as experience and a job before graduation, I seriously couldn’t be any happier.

Thank you to all the faculty, staff, and students for helping me get this far because without your help, I would not be where I am today. I wouldn’t be accomplishing my dream of graduating college, something I thought would never happen and its only a week away. Thank you all and I will definitely be back to visit all of you and even tell new students that are new to the major about my experience being a communication major and working at The School of Communication Studies.

Wrapping it Up

3 Dec

As Christmas break is just around the corner and everyone is scrambling to finish projects and cram for finals, I find that my internship has also come to an end. Today is my last day here as a Public Relations and Marketing Intern at the School of Communication Studies. My time here went so quickly… I feel like I was just at CommonSpot training the other day.  I learned a lot and I most definitely got something out of it. And I think that is what matters at the end of the day. If you didn’t learn or take anything out of the experience, it didn’t matter how many stories you wrote, how many people you interviewed, or how many projects you had. I learned a lot about my own personal writing style and my tendencies for wordiness. I learned how to condense and combine my thoughts to make a more concise story. I also learned how to take an interview and make it into a good news story. I think one of my favorite pieces of advice all semester was when my supervisor told me after an interview to let the quotes write the story. Before he told me that, I was just writing my story and inserting the quotes where I thought they were needed. But letting the quotes write the story allows for a more personal story and more relevant information.

But, I would have to say one of my favorite parts of this internship was getting the chance to interview professionals, as well as my peers.  Although I have been in settings where I have conducted informal interviews before, I had never been asked to interview professionals. My first interview was with Fifth Third Bank Vice President, Louise Gissendaner.  Although I was nervous at first, I think I got the hang of it and I really started to enjoy it. On the outside, interviewing seems like a list of questions and corresponding responses. But, I found that interviewing is a conversation that is guided not only by the questions, but by balanced discussion. This could mean slightly straying away from the questions if that’s where the conversation leads. But you have to find a focus and a balance so that you can still get the information you need. That was my favorite part of the internship and the part where I think I learned the most.

All in all, I really enjoyed my time here and I learned a lot of valuable skills.  I don’t know exactly what my future holds, but I do know that I graduate in about 5 months (eek) and I’m very excited and terrified.  I want to thank everyone that has helped me along the way, especially Khalil and Margaret for letting me be independent, while still teaching me a lot and helping me with all of my duties for this internship. I would also like to thank one of my professors, Suzy D’Enbeau, for giving me good advice to help me to figure out what’s best for me after college.  And to all you future COMM interns out there, good luck! You’ll have a blast and learn a lot. But remember, you only take out as much as you put in, so work hard! It will pay off!

Thanks for a great semester,

Shannon French

The Job Market: The Importance of Experience

18 Nov

I was reading an interesting article today entitled “It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success: Overview and Key Findings.” I will highlight a few of their findings, but first, I would like to reflect upon this idea that “it takes more than a major” to succeed in the workplace. Although I do think that classes and traditional education is necessary and very important, I think that experience is just as important as a degree. And I don’t just mean related experience. I have been working since I was 16 and I learned a lot of critical skills during that time. Even though my first few jobs were just lifeguarding positions, I learned responsibility, problem-solving, leadership, and communication. I was not only held responsible for being on time to my shifts and completing assigned duties, I was responsible for people’s lives. I realized that this is a very big responsibility, especially when I had my first rescue. Then after learning these skills and taking on leadership roles, I was promoted to Aquatics Supervisor. Learning how to lead effectively is an essential skill in the workforce. In short, these jobs that were not related to my major still gave me great experience and helped me to build my skills and resume.

One Step AheadBut, I also did acquire jobs that were related to my field, such as this internship and my internship over the summer, where I was a Marketing and Communications intern at YWCA Greater Cleveland. In these internships, I did many valuable real-world tasks, such writing news stories, interviewing, designing brochures and pamphlets, assisting in the creation of a social media strategy plan, taking photos at events, increasing social media reach, blogging, and more. I think that these experiences are priceless for a future job.

In the article that I mentioned earlier, it said that skills that enable college graduates to contribute to innovation in the workplace is essential. These skills likely come from previous real-world jobs and experience. Below are some of the findings that explain what employers look for in job candidates.  Most of the listed skills would likely come from experience.

  • Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
  • More than 9 in 10 of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • More than 75% of employers say they want more emphasis on 5 key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.


Although a formal education and a college degree are very important for a career, learning in a classroom about theories and definitions can only get you so far. Although it is possible to excel in the workforce without experience, I feel that the transition would be much, much easier with experience under your belt.

Thanks for reading,


Source: It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. 2013. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities and Hart Research Associates.

Communication Majors interested in getting involved with the Student Government?

14 Nov

As a Communication Studies major, the options of how you can get involved on campus is endless. You don’t have to have a certain major to get involved in different student organizations. For example, Megan Carrasco is a junior Applied Communications major with minors in both Spanish and Public Relations, she also just got accepted by the USG (Undergraduate Student Government) to be the Senator at large. Carrasco also serves as the president of the Body Acceptance Movement, the vice president of Membership Education for PanHellenic council, and a member of Delta Gamma Sorority. As you can see, Carrasco is very involved on campus as an applied communications major. “I am ecstatic. I am really ready to start serving a larger body of students.” Carrasco said when expressing her feelings about accepting the new pIMG_5069osition.

USG is a student government that provides services to the Kent State community such as judicial advocates, conference and program grants, voter registration and information drives, concerts and comedy shows, free blue books, bike rentals, and great opportunities for involvement on campus. “We are the voices for the student body. We are here to represent the interest of every student and make their experience at Kent State the best it can be.” Carrasco said.

As a senator, Carrasco serves five office hours per week on the first floor of the student center but she also spends a lot of her time in the Kent State community. Carrasco has to attend events and meet students on campus because she is the person who represents the student body.

One main accomplishment that Carrasco would like to achieve as Senator is to focus on the international students and to understand their experience here at Kent State. “I want to know how I can make it better and what I can do to make them feel as welcome as anyone else.” Carrasco said.

Even though Carrasco is involved in the student government, she uses communication skills every day, “I am always talking to people. All day I explain what USG does and how we can impact the student experience. I have to communicate with the team as a whole and with the general student body as well.” Carrasco said.

Carrasco is a great example for all students, especially communication majors because she represents the School of Communication Studies showing the students that you can literally do anything with a communications degree.

Being a part of USG is a great opportunity for all students to get involved on campus no matter what your major is and Carrasco is making wonderful changes around campus. In five years Carrasco sees herself finishing her master’s degree and doing something she is passionate about, “I am a public servant at heart.”


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