Jennifer Rhyne Takes Her Communication Degree to CBC

November 09, 2022

Jennifer Rhyne began her Communications journey when she first graduated from SFU's School of Communication. Upon graduating and travelling Europe, she worked in the tourism industry, where she honed her communications skills for almost ten years.

Now, Jennifer works as a Communications, Marketing and Branding Manager at CBC Vancouver. Her primary role is to develop and execute the strategic direction for CBC British Columbia's brand and marketing initiatives. She works with "an incredible team of creative professionals who have passion for public broadcasting" and engage in community work as well as strengthen relationships with community partners across the province. Jennifer and her colleagues support big station and network initiatives, like public town halls, election shows, new hosts, shows or podcast launches by handling the branding, marketing, and promoting.

What does a typical day look like for you at CBC?

This question is always so difficult to answer, as I feel many Communications professionals would feel the same way. There is no "typical" day in Communications. You could start off by writing a strategic communications plan for a project, but then something happens on social media that needs to be managed, a breaking news event could trigger a change in the schedule and move to live programming, which directs attention to that, an event that was planned for could have a logistical issue which needs to be addressed, etc. Or I might just get to enjoy a day of brainstorming fun projects with the team, catching up on writing or reporting, or hanging out on location in the sunshine at a photoshoot! Every day has the potential to be different, which is why Communications is a fun industry to be in.

Did you always know you wanted to go into the Communications and Marketing field?

No, I didn’t. I didn’t know much about the field at all, except that in movies and on TV working in advertising and magazines looked like a lot of fun. I started off in business, struggling through economics and calculus before heading to a counsellor’s office at SFU, who advised that Communications might be more suited to the types of roles I had glamourized in my mind.  

What is something you know now that you wish you would've known when you first graduated and entered the workforce?

I am not sure when I first graduated that I fully grasped how connected businesses and people really are. The expression sometimes when looking for work is that it is all about ‘who you know’. That is very accurate. It isn’t even limited to the communications industry, a big part of work is about connecting with businesses, people, companies, ideas, activities, communities…I could go on and on. Getting to know people will take some effort and you should dedicate time to do it. It will pay off!

Why do you think the Communications field is important?

In a world where the landscape is always changing, new ideas and technologies evolve and cultural differences are celebrated, there is a definite need for clear, concise communicators. Skills that bridge gaps, bring people together and make it easier to understand each other are invaluable. That is why Communications is important. You can have the most amazing idea, but if no one ever hears about it, that idea will never amount to anything.

What exciting projects are you currently working on?

So many things! Just this month we are getting prepared to launch two new hosts for two different shows, we are working on an extensive marketing and promotional campaign including photo and video shoots, we are expanding our coverage into Nanaimo and Cranbrook so we are heading out to broadcast from those communities, we are launching a podcast called Land Back that is a must listen about Indigenous land rights, and of course promoting a full day of programming and engagement for our annual CBC Food Bank Day. And all of that is just in November!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Outside of work I am kept very busy with three kiddos! When I do manage to squeeze in time to myself, I enjoy reading a good book, yoga, running, ice skating and in the rare times I can sneak away, I love trying new things at least once - anything from extreme sports to exotic foods. My family will always tease that I put so much energy into my new passions that you would be convinced that I was a resident expert!

Since leaving SFU, you have been super successful in the Communications field. How did your SFU experience(s) in the School of Communication help shape your success today?

That is kind of you to say! When I went to SFU I had to work hard. I didn’t have money for tuition, so I paid my way by working jobs on nights and weekends, fitting in studying (and the occasional nap - no corner was off limit!) along the way. I was fortunate to have wonderful TAs in my communications classes, one of which encouraged me to always keep pushing to be better. I think my experience is what shaped my work ethic today and throughout my career.

What skills did you gain from your CMNS courses that you're utilizing today?

I remember one of my courses with Dr. Martin Laba. It was on media and culture and took a deep dive into the influences of popular culture on trends and historical impacts, and how culture shapes media. I find myself often thinking about this course, and mindfully applying that knowledge to relevant culture shifts that have happened more recently, especially in the last few years with anti-racism movements, distrust in media, and of course the Covid-19 pandemic.

What is your favourite memory from SFU and/or the School of Communication?

My favourite memory from SFU was actually a field trip for a criminology class (those breadth courses are important!) to several prisons in Washington state where we studied different prison systems. The field trip was an adventure, but also shaped the way I look and reflect on systemic issues. My favourite memory in the school of Communication was celebrating with my classmates after really good group project grade over pizza and having our TA join us. It felt like our TA was invested in our future and I appreciated that.

What sort of experiences would you recommend students to get into while at university to obtain a job like yours?

I might have a different answer if you are just asking about the Communications field. But if I am going to look at this from the lens of Communications in the Media Industry, I would say that working for the university paper, or any photography or video clubs would be helpful. While it is not essential that someone on my team has journalism experience, it is always an asset to know how that industry works. And visuals can be equally important to words when telling a story.

Are there any upcoming volunteer opportunities/internships/events that CMNS students would be interested in?

In our Communications department, internships and volunteer opportunities are not common. However, students can always reach out to me if they are interested in event brand ambassador opportunities as those sometimes come up - especially as we start navigating a return to in-person events. CBC also has a wonderful opportunity open to SFU students called the Gzowski Internship Program.

And lastly, what advice do you have for current CMNS students?

My advice for Communications students is that you have chosen a good field. The people you will work with will be fun, creative and energetic. But you should expect to work hard. Don’t expect your degree to be enough. Learning is a lifelong journey, and if you are open to listening, absorbing and growing, the possibilities for an amazing career are endless. And a healthy coffee habit is never a bad idea!