Connecting Communication and Publishing to Building Career Pathways

Emily Taylor shares her experience from building bridges between Communication and Print and Digital Publishing to exploring career pathways across four work terms as a co-op student.

Emily Taylor is a co-op student who studies both Communication and Print and Digital Publishing. On May 29th, Emily shared her experience as a student in the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology to future students at SFU’s Information Evening.

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

In your own words, how would you describe Communication?

Communication is a critical examination of how people who use media and technology interact with each other, and the implications of these interactions. The applied aspects of the school involve media production, innovative research and hard skills required to succeed in professions focused on communicating with citizens, clients and other businesses.

What have you learned from doing a minor in Print and Digital Publishing? How does the program relate to other studies, such as Communication?

The Publishing minor is a unique combination of highly practical skills related to communicating meaning (graphic design, writing, social media, business plans) and a forward-thinking analysis of the current publishing landscape. This program is progressive, honest and creative in its capacity to look at the state of the publishing industry and see opportunity for improvement, development and evolution, rather than merely crying 'crisis'.

What has surprised you the most about being an FCAT student?

The diversity of passions and viable career paths associated with the degree. The programs are filled with brilliant, creative, critical and forward-thinking people who may be pursuing vastly different goals, but share a common interest in human interaction. I have friends working as project managers in the music industry, technical writers in scientific research organizations, policy creation in government, marketing strategy in the social media industry, news reporting on independent and national broadcasting networks, to name a few... The possibilities are endless (if you make the most of them)!

Looking back, what advice do you wish you were given when you were considering going into SFU?

Your experience at SFU is 100% what you make of it. You'll have people tell you it's an anti-social "commuter campus", but they just did the bare minimum of going to classes and running home. Don't just graduate with a degree. Volunteer, join a club, sign up for co-op, go on an exchange, talk to the people in your classes and your professors, live on Residence, go to the Highland. You'll never have so many opportunities or incredibly talented and driven people at your disposal. Don’t miss your chance.

Describe your most engaged moment here at SFU.

Training to be a Residence Orientation Leader was an incredibly engaging experience. I’ve never been around so many passionate, motivated and excited people in my life. Everyone was there because they love SFU and wanted to give new students the warmest welcome possible. I definitely suggest it (being in Orientation, and later volunteering).

As a Co-op student, you have been on several interesting work terms. Could you tell us a bit more about them, and how have you benefitted from the experience?

I’ve completed five internships throughout my four years at SFU, four of which were co-op terms. My first two were self-directed and at a contemporary art gallery on Vancouver Island (Comox Valley Art Gallery), where I established and promoted educational art and media programs for children and youth in my first year, and reformed a previously unsuccessful art auction into a cirque du soleil themed masquerade ball that raised $10,000 for the small, underfunded art hub in my second year. I learned so much about marketing, event planning, community relations and policy during the two positions that will serve me for the rest of my life. However, I also learned that working in arts-based non-profits is incredibly taxing work for alarmingly little pay, so you must be selflessly devoted to your field to feel fulfilled.

My next co-op was at Mitacs, which is a larger non-profit organization that pairs graduate students seeking paid internships with businesses looking for the expertise required to innovate. My role was primarily writing profile pieces on their blog, coordinating social media and media pitching to national and international broadcasters. I learned a lot about team dynamics, corporate culture and media pitching in my position at Mitacs that I’ve drawn upon in group projects and my current marketing position. I also vastly expanded my professional network at Mitacs, which was a major benefit.

My last co-op term was an eight-month position at Tradable Bits, which has resulted in a currently part-time position and a career for after graduation. Tradable Bits is a startup company that develops tools for social media marketing, and it’s my job to communicate who we are, what we do and present us as a leader in the social media marketing industry. I bring all of the skills I learned in my education (writing, researching, presenting, etc.) and my co-op terms (media pitching, marketing, project management, etc.) to my current job every single day. In my role, I’ve helped this company grow from two visionary developers with limited external communications, to a marketing powerhouse working with leaders in social media like Facebook, HootSuite, Instagram and Twitter and serving clients like Lululemon, Canucks Sports & Entertainment and Bell Let's Talk. I adore my job could not be happier with my team, company and position.

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

I live with two SFU communication graduates that work at record labels in Vancouver, so I attend a lot of concerts. I also love to dance at Harbour Centre Dance downtown, eat at crazy restaurants and explore BC’s awesome landscape (swimming, hiking, climbing, etc). If I ever have a spare moment, I also love to write and hope to start my own magazine once I graduate. Honestly though, fitting extra curricular activities into my schedule of work, school, volunteering, socializing and sleeping is a challenge, but if you’re passionate about what you do, it’s relatively stress-free. Choose courses you think you’ll love, not because they look easy. Seek out professors and mentors that inspire you. Find your strategy for keeping track of everything (mine’s a spreadsheet) and stick to it. And always, always schedule time for yourself.

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

What does it take to succeed in Communication?

A passion for writing. If you don’t like to write, seriously reconsider your choice of major. You don’t necessarily have to be a great writer, because Communication will help you become one. But you MUST love to write if you want to succeed. Loving to read will also majorly help you.

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

I have a Twitter profile, please follow! @em_ily_sara
I have a LinkedIn profile, but I only add people I’ve spoken to before: ca.linkedin.com/in/emilysarataylor
And I’m the Editor and primary writer for this blog: http://tips.tradablebits.com/