Casey McCarthy

Levelling up: Communication alum pursues a Master of Publishing to develop professional skills and contribute to the SFU community

After graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and English, Casey McCarthy knew she always wanted to stay connected to SFU because of its strong sense of community. After working in the fundraising sector for a few years, she decided to pursue education in publishing to further develop her skills and try something new.

When she received a promotional email about the Master of Publishing (MPub) program, she decided to take her skills to the next level. Passionate about SFU involvement, McCarthy also felt that the opportunity would re-engage her with the community. 

She admires how the university encourages students and alumni to engage with whatever path they desire, “It’s more about where you see yourself going, what your ideas are, and how you can use your skills to make the world a better place.

“I just wanted to take my skills to the next level. I was looking for something more transferable. I didn’t want to focus on one set path, but focus on things that I really enjoy doing — which is writing, research, and conveying information,” McCarthy says.

She was intrigued by the MPub media project which involved putting together proposals, a business case, and coming up with an original media business. She was able to apply what she learned as a communication and publishing student to this project while further developing other skills.

“It was time to try something new, while using my existing skills in a different way,” McCarthy explains.

Not only did the MPub program teach her the process of writing, publishing, and selling a book, but McCarthy says that it also helped her learn more about herself on a deeper level.

“I've learned more about what my values are, the kind of career path I'd like to see myself have, the kind of organization I'd like to work with, and the kind of people I'd like to work with,” she shares. 

In addition, she has been able to work on her decision-making skills. Receiving criticism on her projects from different industry guests taught her to make solid decisions and understand why she made them.

In these scenarios, students would present, pitch, and defend their ideas in a way that made people understand it clearly.

“I learned that you cannot please everyone,” she says. “Not everybody is going to agree with you, so you need to be able to explain your rationale for making your decision, and try to persuade them about why it’s a great idea. You need to stick to your guns.” 

Although she has been pursuing her masters degree online, she says the program helped her develop interpersonal skills through group dynamics. 

“In the program, you learn a lot about working in a respectful and collaborative way. Great ideas come out of this positive, collaborative, creative environment. We've even managed to build community during the pandemic over Zoom, which isn't easy.”

McCarthy’s interest in community engagement has been evident since she completed a BA in Communication. After graduating in 2008 she worked as a prospect research coordinator with Advancement and Alumni Engagement to strategize ways to raise funds for the university.

When McCarthy recently came across the opportunity to work as a research assistant for the SFU Retirees Association, helping them with research for a book about the early years of the arts at SFU, she jumped at the chance to put her skills to work. 

“I’ve found some really cool, interesting, groovy stuff about an old program called the Centre for Communications and the Arts from the 60s and 70s. I've been working with archives to get everything scanned and digitized so it lasts forever and other people can learn about this.”

She has been enjoying this professional placement portion of her degree because she is able to explore her existing interests of archival research, book organization, and website building.

Drawn to work on communications and publication projects for an institution like SFU, McCarthy hopes to also explore her passion for community building and apply her writing and research skills to her long term career.