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Career Outcomes

Your Success Story Is Waiting. Opportunities for those in communication studies are diverse. From advertising to politics, employers across professional fields are seeking candidates who have the talents and skills that a degree in communication studies provides.

Alumni Stories

Linh Nguyen 22

Looking back on my time at Vanderbilt, I am wholeheartedly thankful for the decision to major in communication studies. I was immersed in a small cohort of diverse and talented students along with incredibly supportive and passionate professors. I remember Professor Travers encouraged me to conduct a class lecture on the Vietnam War, and Professor Bennett was willingly open to having me build a creative presentation comparing COVID19 musical rhetoric between countries. The interdisciplinary nature of the CMST major fascinated me with not only the power of language but also how rhetoric has transformed and perpetuated itself from the past to the present, from media to daily life. The knowledge and skills I am endowed with from my CMST major have become transferable skills that help me navigate my daily responsibilities as a human resources partner at Amazon Air. I have not only learned how to become an effective advocate but also the ability to utilize language to persuade, motivate the target audience, and most importantly resolve conflict and deep dive into challenges with critical thinking and openmindedness.

Taylor Grant ’21

After graduating early from Vanderbilt in December 2021, I spent my “gap semester” working and traveling before starting at Duke University School of Law in fall 2022. As of January 2023, I am in the second semester of my J.D. program. This summer, I look forward to beginning my legal career as a summer associate at a “big law” firm in D.C. In addition to my professional studies, I’m heavily involved with the Duke Black Graduate and Professional Students Association, and I work with Duke Men’s Basketball on game day operations. Ultimately, I hope to parlay my degree(s) into a job in sports and entertainment law.

I majored in communication studies (and law, history & society) because of how it uniquely combined my learning interests and my career goals. The practice of law tests the efficacy of both your verbal and written communication skills. Courses like Law, Media and Society and Rhetoric, Sports and Society—in addition to an interdisciplinary internship as a communications intern at Excel Sports Management—taught me how individuals create and respond to messages within the context of my professional interests. As a result, when I applied to law schools, and now when I apply to jobs, I feel confident that my coursework demonstrates a solid understanding of the enormous overlap between sports, entertainment, and communication.

Emma Mattson ’21

I’m finishing my master’s in speech language pathology and beginning work as a speech therapist in Chicago-area public schools this fall. I spend each day helping students communicate better—whether that’s with their voice, written language, or an assistive technology device. My focus is working with bilingual Spanish-English students who often get overlooked in school settings and private clinics. Providing accurate evaluations and services that are actually functional for what each student needs has been so rewarding.

Typical communication courses like Public Speaking and Intro to Communication Studies gave me a strong foundation for this work, but the unique electives Vanderbilt offers were what truly made a difference for me. Courses like Communicating Gender with Dr. Bohyeong Kim, Queer Rhetorics with Dr. Jeff Bennett, and Law, Media, and Society with Dr. Isaac West didn’t just make me a stronger communicator, they broadened my worldview and taught me to think critically about the systems I work in.

Brandon James 20

I am currently in my final semester of the master of public policy program at Georgia State University, and am working for the state of Georgia as a housing policy analyst. After graduating from Georgia State, I will be joining Deloitte as a government and public sector business analyst. In my current role, my primary duties involve finding ways to best communicate, visualize, and analyze data related to government programs. My interest in government started when I joined the Vanderbilt University Debate Team. After debating and researching government policies, I wanted a better understanding of how rhetoric both shapes and is shaped by policy. So, I declared a major in communication studies. The Rhetoric of the American Experience classes allowed me to understand the myths and motifs that are used to define the nation, Politics and Mass Media helped me understand modern practices in political campaigns, and classes like Communicating Gender taught me how rhetoric informs our relationship to our identities. These classes, and many others offered by the communication studies faculty, have been influential in helping me understand how to effectively communicate government policy.

Tommy Oswalt ’20

I am an assistant vice president of global culture change at Citi, the leading global bank in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Broadly, my team sits within our human resources function of the firm; however, we are not what you might consider your typical “HR” team. My team uses organizational psychology to introduce small, everyday habits to senior leaders and employees across Citi to modernize and simplify how we work. In my role specifically, I spend my days designing and managing our firm’s first-ever culture champion program—made up of more than 5,000 volunteer employees who are excited about adopting new ways of working and helping their colleagues do the same. In other words, my work is influencing people to influence other people.

At Vanderbilt, the CMST courses that I felt most prepared me for my work today were Fundamentals of Public Speaking, Business Communication, and Rhetoric and Civic Life. The first two courses taught me more structured ways of how to give a public speech, develop a verbal argument, and present an idea in a cohesive manner. I can say with certainty that nearly every day in the workplace I am doing one of those three actions, both within my team and with other stakeholders. Being able to articulate myself clearly and propose new ideas with precision have been invaluable to my time at Citi. The third of the three courses, Rhetoric and Civic Life, has been helpful in thinking creatively about my current role. The course pushed me to think differently about how we as a society create community rhetorically, asking questions like “what is a public or a community?” As I develop our culture champion program, I want to also create a purpose-driven community among our culture champions, and doing so means I need to think about how I communicate with them to achieve that.


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