March 02, 2015

Connecting applied experience with a communication degree


Kelly Furey is a Co-op student who studies in our School of Communication and Print and Digital Publishing Minor Program. On March 4th, Kelly will be sharing her experience as a student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology to future students at SFU Surrey’s Global Community Open House.

We have caught up with Kelly to find out more about her undergraduate experience, and are delighted to share it on the FCAT Blog.

How did you hear about SFU’s School of Communication, and what made you choose Communication?

I knew from pretty early on that I wanted to study Communication at SFU. Growing up I loved writing, media, journalism, technology and pop culture; and I spent many years fostering a passion for every aspect of the industry. I learned that the School of Communication boasts one of the most revolutionary programs across country, and after hearing more about the dynamic courses, vibrant campus culture and Co-op opportunities, I knew that the School of Communication was the perfect fit for me. 

What interested you in pursuing a Minor in Print and Digital Publishing, and what do you find is the value that it adds to your degree?

Always seeking out new opportunities to further apply my Communication skills, I began to explore Print and Digital Publishing. I was immediately drawn towards the hands on learning environment fostered by the Publishing program. After discovering my passion for Publishing through blogging, marketing and technology courses, I decided to declare a Minor in Print and Digital Publishing. Publishing really gave me the opportunity to focus on my professional skill set and further develop my Communication portfolio.

What is the best part about being an FCAT student?

The Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology is where creativity meets academia, passionate people collaborate and students shape the way we see the world. The best part about being an FCAT student is the unique opportunity to take a dynamic blend of theoretical and practical courses while studying topics that matter to me. There is nothing more inspiring than working in a room full of intelligent, innovative, driven FCAT students. 

What is the best piece advice that you would like to share with prospective SFU students?

On the very first day of school my orientation leader left a key piece of advice that really resonated with me. At the end of the day, you will only take away from your degree what you put into your university experience; make it count. As cliché at it sounds, three years into the program I cannot stress enough how valuable this piece of advice is for incoming students.  Through getting involved on campus, engaging the community and fostering friendships, I can earnestly say that I am having an incredible university experience here at SFU. 

How would you describe the value in complimenting your studies with Co-operative Education? What have your work terms been like?

In my second year, I wanted to take learning outside of the classroom and gain hands on industry experience so I got involved with the Communication Co-op program. I landed my first co-op as a Public Relations Intern at Grey, an international advertising agency. 

Everyone at Grey took me under their wing and made me feel like a valuable member of the team. Right from day one, I was thrown into the deep end managing social media platforms, writing press releases and developing digital communication strategies for clients. Throughout my four short months at Grey I experienced tremendous personal and professional growth. I walked into the experience confident that I wanted to pursue a career in PR and left inspired to explore an entirely different pursuit. 

Throughout my experience at Grey, I developed professional skills that simply cannot be taught in the classroom setting. Co-op enabled me to make connections and foster relationships with the right people while gaining critical insight into the professional world of Communication. Above all, I felt like I had the opportunity to accomplish some really incredible things at Grey. There was nothing more rewarding than seeing a billboard, hearing a radio jingle or watching a commercial and knowing that I helped played a role in creating the advertisement. 

Very recently, I started my second Co-op term working as a Promotions & Recruitment Assistant at the School of Communication. The position is a perfect opportunity to apply the skills I have been learning in class through developing communication plans, promotional marketing strategies and giving recruitment presentations. I am enjoying my experience thus far and I look forward to what the future has in store! 

I am a huge advocate for the Co-op program and I strongly believe that Co-op is essential to the Communication degree. Entering the work force with valuable real-world experience under your belt gives you the competitive edge necessary to thrive in Communication industry. While the School of Communication does an excellent job of preparing students with fundamental knowledge and a strong foundation; it is through co-op experiences where students have the opportunity to distinguish themselves as communication professionals.

What does it take to succeed in Communication, and what do you hope to get out of your degree?

The Communication industry calls for passionate, forward-thinking, savvy professionals eager to make meaningful change in the world. In order to thrive in Communication, you must be willing to raise your hand, take risks and leap outside your comfort zone. Ultimately, from my degree I wish to take away the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to make my mark in the world of Communication. 

What are some of your favourite extra-curricular activities? How do you find balance between those activities and your academic studies?

Excited about starting my journey at SFU, I got really involved with every aspect of the university right from day one. I joined student groups like Young Women in Business, competed on the SFU cheerleading team, founded SFU’s first sorority and landed a job at the Highland Pub. As a student, I absolutely loved every minute of it. I quickly found and incredible community on campus and SFU began to feel like a place I could call home. 

Between work, school, Co-op and extra-curricular activities, I tend to have a lot on the go.  I achieve a happy balance by staying organized (I am notorious for excessive to-do lists) surrounding myself with incredible people and focusing on things that inspire me most. 

What is one question you wish I’d ask, and how would you answer it?

What can you do with a Communication degree?

If only I had a dime for every time someone has asked me this question. My answer?  Communication opens doors to infinite possibilities! Whether you want to pursue a professional career in public relations, dabble in journalism, specialize in public affairs – or all of the above – your Communication degree is ultimately whatever you decide to make of it! Technology is evolving, the industry is flourishing and prominent Communications careers that never existed ten years ago are high in demand today.

Do you have a website, an online portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc. that you would like to share?

Follow me on Twitter: @kellyfurey

Connect with me on LinkedIn: