Alumni Showcase Special Edition: CMNSU's Brilliant Interview Series Mashup

Alumni Showcase Special Edition: CMNSU's Brilliant Interview Series Mashup

By: Aninditha Kamaruddin | CMNSU Alumni Relations Coordinator
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This article was originally published on the SFU CMNSU Website on October 27, 2014. View the original article here: Alumni Interview: Special Edition

At some point in life, most of us may take a step back to re-evaluate the decisions we’ve made thus far and contemplate whether we really are on the “right path.” I firmly believe that whatever we’re doing at this very moment should be a true reflection of our core values and the person we envision ourselves to be. With quotes like “Choose a major you love and you’ll never work a day in your life because that field isn’t hiring,” floating around the Internet and making its way to our handheld screens, it’s hard not to second guess ourselves.

But then again, why place too much fear on something you can’t control? Placate your worries by focusing on the now and seek inspiration to replace fear. Right now, one of the best places to start is by reading about our Communication alumni– the professionals who were in our very position not too long ago. It would be beneficial to have a picture, no matter how fuzzy or clear, of the next steps we can take after throwing our graduation caps in the air. Read our Alumni Interviews here.

For now, take a look at some important insights SFU’s Communication alumni have shared with us.

On Careers in Communication

If you’re curious to see what kinds of jobs are out there for Communications students, you’ve come to the right place. So far, CMNSU has spoken to 33 alumni in different industries and in various stages of their careers. This interesting mix of professionals have showed us that there indeed is a wide array of communication related jobs. It seems as though the marketing or communications coordinator position, or some variation of that, is the most popular choice among this pool of alumni.

That is not to say that your hopes of becoming a magazine editor, a food blogger, a social media manager, a news anchor who frequently reports quite literally, on air on a helicopter, a communications consultant, or even the founder of your own communications firm, isn’t out of reach, because it’s been proven to be possible by our successful alumni!

Don’t Rush It!

I thought that everyone had to endure just 4 years of university to be able to make that walk across the AQ pond. However, with so many possible avenues you can explore to really maximize your time at SFU, it is normal and somewhat encouraged to want to extend your degree for another year or two. Vivian Man, the Global Product Marketing Coordinator for EA Games, agrees; “Don’t think its four years and you have to leave. It took me six years to complete my degree. Really think about why you’re in school. Look around and see how you can get involved. You have to be proactive and look for opportunities on your own.”

Take charge of your education

The interview with Paris Thomas, the Director and Co-founder of Open Box Communications, reminds us that we have to take charge of our education. “Communications is one of the most difficult degrees to figure out what it is you want to do when you come out of it, and nobody is going to figure it out for you.”

If you’ve always wanted to experience life in another country, find out more about how you can Study Abroad. If you’re interested in getting relevant experience to complement your degree, look into doing Co-op. SFU places a huge emphasis on work integrated learning through the strongly encouraged Co-op program. Some of our alumni have even attributed their successes to Co-op, and it’s not hard to see why. Amanda Brkich, the Communications Manager at ViaSport, considers Co-op as the perfect bridge between school and career. It is a terrific opportunity to get your foot in the door, apply your skills, and give you a better idea of what you want and don’t want to do in your future careers.

If Co-op isn’t not for you, be proactive in seeking your own experiences. Volunteer, network and get involved! Some of our alumni’s involvement with the student union, school newspaper and radio gave them the best memories from their time at SFU. As a case in point, Gordon Ross, the Vice President and Partner of OpenRoad, got a chance to interview Noam Chomsky through his involvement with The Peak. Now that’s something you can never forget!

Overcome your struggles

We often forget that struggle is natural part of the learning process. Several of the Communication alumni have admitted to having a hard time in their first two years of university. At some point of your university career, you might face issues with time management, focus and understanding course material. Don’t fret, there seems to be a consensus from our alumni on how to deal with common student struggles.

  1. Keep up with the course content: Tara Armstrong, the Marketing Manager for Glowbal Restaurant Group, proclaimed she “really buckled down in her 3rd and 4th year, and became a much better student.” To overcome the struggle of understanding course material, some alumni did every single one of the course readings, actively participated in class, frequently sought help from the TAs and interacted with their Professors.
  2. Play to your strengths: You should know yourself better than anybody else. Kashif Pasta, the Production Coordinator for MPC, started his own YouTube channel because he knew he was more of a hands on learner and needed to find his own ways to apply the communication theories from class. He later turned the YouTube channel he started in university into a small business.
  3. Integrate your interests: Almira Bardai, Co-founder & Partner of Jive Communications, was spot on when she expressed how great the Communication program was for applying current trends into learning. She wrote a paper on U2 and even took a course on qualitative research that talked about Star Wars. Almira really appreciated the program’s ability to engage our interests while giving us the critical thinking skills that is oh so crucial in life.

No regrets?

When CMNSU asked the Communication alumni if they would have done anything differently if they had a chance to do over their university years, most of them said they were lucky not to have any regrets. Some alumni wished that they had been more forthcoming with their professors, and others wished to have gotten more involved with clubs and organizations.

During CMNSU’s interview with John Grant, the Associate Director of SFU Alumni Relations, John surprisingly described himself as a pretty uninvolved student. This made me realize that there are so many other factors as to why students might find it challenging to get involved on campus. For John, it was the long commute he had to endure for long periods of time each day. However, John underwent the Co-op program, and though it took him 6 years to graduate, his last Co-op term at SFU introduced him to different internal contacts that landed him different positions at SFU. It also led him this very position in 2009, where he still works today to implement alumni engagement strategies for SFU.

John Grant shows us there isn’t an exact formula you have to follow to get a good job. You have to find what works with your current situation and just make the best of it. No matter what you do, when you reminisce about the good ol’ days at SFU, you want to be like Paris Thomas and be able to say, “I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I loved my education at SFU and wouldn’t change it for the world,”

With no shortage of great tips from our successful alumni, it’s up to you how you want to make the most of your time at SFU. So, which path will you take?


 CMNSU LogoThe goal of the Communication Student Union (CMNSU) is to promote and protect the welfare and interests of Communication students within the School of Communication, the Faculty of Communication, Arts & Technology (FCAT), the SFSS, and the University. To identify and promote the academic, intellectual, recreational and career concerns/interests of Communication students. 


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Posted on December 19, 2014