So you’re considering a major in mass communications. You’ve read all the tips and tricks for making your big decision, learning how to follow your passion and create a successful college experience. Or perhaps you already have the degree—which, notably, is still valuable—but you aren’t sure what to do next. Thankfully communications careers are rarely linear, and it’s easier than you think to make the jump from one communications field to another.
This degree means you’ve studied an extremely broad field and now have a world of career options. Mass communications is the transmission of information through mass media. In other words, it is literally any job dealing with media—from news anchor to magazine publisher to music producer. As with any field, you might start at the bottom of the totem pole, and not all communications industries are created equal salary-wise. You might scrape by at $40,000 a year, or you might find yourself enjoying a six-figure income. It’s up to you.
To narrow the possibilities for you, here are six categories to explore:
We can’t talk about media without a nod to the original. Contrary to popular belief, journalism isn’t dead—it’s just transforming before our eyes, becoming increasingly intertwined with other types of media. There are several reasons you may want to pursue a career in journalism even today, including the excitement of breaking a big story. However exciting that or other parts of the job description might be, many journalism graduates and professionals are abandoning their traditional field for something related, but different. Top areas include marketing and public relations (more on those later). It may be wise to pursue more well-rounded studies in the first place. Remember, you’re not stuck in one field forever.
As mentioned before, public relations is often an option for former journalists, and the skills are surprisingly transferrable. Public relations still requires storytelling, albeit for a specific company, group or cause. A PR manager or publicist could use a huge variety of media tools to do that, some earned media (such as a pitched newspaper story) and some owned media (such as an organization blog). Public relations is all about connections—your best foot in the door is a stellar entry-level position or internship.
Admittedly, there is a lot of overlap between every media and communications field. Corporate communications can often include a public relations component and vice versa, just out of sheer necessity of communication. Corporate communications includes internal communications—from newsletters and emails to executive correspondence. It may not include the same “mass” as other mass communications (depending, of course, on the size of the company), but corporate communications plays a vital role in any company’s operations.
Are you a big fan of creativity? Are you a big fan of creativity in a high-pressure environment? Advertising might be for you. This communications niche includes (and is not limited to) copywriting, design and multi-media campaigns. More than anything, its steeped in strategy, much like its parent field of marketing. To be truly successful in advertising, it may help to have a more specialized degree. However, mass communications easily prepares you for account management and top-level planning positions.
Video. Photo. Graphic design. This is definitely the prettiest corner of mass media. Much like advertising, specialization will serve you best—consider at the very least a visual-arts-related minor or emphasis as part of your mass communication degree if this is what you want to do. But the generalized degree is still a great start, especially if you’d like to pursue a position such as creative director.
Ah, marketing:the golden child of mass communication. A marketing-specific degree is considered one of the most hireable, and marketing positions usually pay well. Because it is in and of itself a broad and innovative field, marketing provides opportunities for people from all sorts of backgrounds to a job and work their way up.
BONUS: An “Unrelated” Field
In the end, you need to choose what’s best for you. A mass communications degree arms you with some incredible skills that are applicable in a variety of industries, including technology and financial services (Goldman Sachs execs have made a splash with their comments on favoring liberal arts degrees, for example.) With a mass communications degree, you can’t go wrong.