Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Agency vs. in-house communications: One career, two different worlds

September 5, 2017

People always ask me, “Which do you like best – agency or in-house?” Or, I find myself in talks with a recent graduate who will be on the fence and wants help weighing the pros and cons of each. No one wants to potentially miss anything happening on “the other side.”

As someone who has worked in agency, done a fair amount of independent consulting and has also worked in corporate communications – I can say, you gain rich experience in each and both can be equally rewarding.

In my experience, below are some of the contrasts.

Breadth versus depth of work

In the agency and consulting world, you get a wide range of experience working with different clients who make up different sizes and industries. While you may not become an expert in any one industry, this side of the business allows you to explore a breadth of PR, cultivate media relationships across a variety of beats and discover what you enjoy most. On the other hand, corporate communications offers PR pros a deep understanding of one brand and its assets. The good news? These folks become brand and industry experts. The bad news? You could get pigeon-holed in an industry that you don’t want to work in forever.

“In my view, there is a ton of upside to working in-house. The team is completely focused on common goals, you become more experienced in one industry and you can focus on just doing great work versus billing time,” said Scott Castleman, TransCanada.

Doing what you love.

Unfortunately, not all clients (and industries) are created equal. You may be extremely passionate about telling one brand’s story and fired up about advocating for a specific issue/cause, while you’re not so jazzed about another client’s work.  A pro in corporate communications is, you have the opportunity to seek out an industry or issue that you’re passionate about and put all of your energy into it every day.

The “team” can look very different.

One of the great advantages to working at an agency is being able to bounce ideas off of fellow creatives who understand what you do. Whether you’re testing different messaging, thinking-thru a crisis response or vetting a media pitch – you have a team of communications professionals you can learn from and who can offer valuable feedback. Often times, collaboration with other seasoned PR pros is harder to come by in-house. Your colleagues might be all very smart people at their jobs but when it comes to marketing communications – they just don’t get it (and that can be frustrating at times). The product itself can also be less quality, not having the benefit of collaborating with other, like-minded professionals. As the old saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one!’

“Many strategic communications students or new grads start in agencies where teams of skilled professionals and a solid manager can test their capabilities and determine strengths…That leads to advancement within one’s agency or leaping to an in-house position. This is the career path I see most often,” said Mike Fulton, The Asher Agency. 

Getting the greenlight.

At an agency, waiting to get client approval on every single landing page, ad, story angle, speech, op-ed, etc. can mean deadlines getting pushed back. However, based on my experience working in-house, getting sign off from legal, execs and IT is easier and much quicker.

To sum it up from my point of view – if you like specializing in something and prefer more structure, in-house communications may be the best option. On the other hand – if you dig more variety in your work, then agency is the way to go!

A 2011 graduate of the IMC Program, Bridgette Borst Ombres is a former television news reporter turned PR and marketing professional with a decade of experience working in the communications field across agency, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Bridgette is the director of marketing and communications at a tech company in Pittsburgh and also consults for a variety of businesses.

She is a member of PRSA Pittsburgh, serves on the TEDxPittsburgh committee, the co-founder of Not Your Mama’s Book Club and volunteers as a mentor at WVU Reed College of Media.

Education for the Traveler

August 14, 2017

I never knew how much the world had to offer until I stepped into it and decided to live. For sure, everyone has their own idea of living— some aspire to have the white-picket fence and a home filled with a family, while others, like me, have decided to break away from the ordinary and travel with an uncertainty that is fueled with the idea that everything will workout in the end. In 2011 I did something almost unthinkable for a hometown girl from Kentucky, I became an expatriate. America will always be home, but the world has been calling me, and I can’t shake off the need to answer.

Since moving abroad the amount of history that I have seen with my very own eyes and have touched with my very own hands is countless. I am able to do all of this because I made the decision to become a certified TESOL teacher, which means I teach the English language to those who want to learn it. Teaching English abroad has been the most rewarding job I have ever had, but two years ago I decided I wanted to start making a change and that’s when I discovered the IMC program at WVU.Picture2

Working on my master’s degree while living abroad has been great! Don’t get me wrong, it can be very challenging, but that’s the best part. It makes me get out of my comfort zone and explore my community. I am currently residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and being able to experience the culture and how IMC comes into play has been such a learning experience. The culture here is very different than what I grew up knowing and being able to understanding that and use it throughout the IMC program has allowed me to bring a new dimension to my class discussions and papers.

Throughout the program I have noticed several differences in advertising, but the one that stands out to me the most is the lack of women in advertisements. Women’s body parts are not allowed to be out on display, so getting creative on how to advertise is a must, especially if you’re selling women’s clothing. Another hot topic is the fact that women can’t drive here, regardless of personal opinions on this matter, as a student who is studying IMC I have found that women in this country have really utilized social media in order to work from home and some have become very successful.


I typically get the same questions about living in Saudia Arabia. Is it safe? Do you have to cover your body? Is the food good? I always answer with, Yes, I feel extremely safe here. Yes, I have to cover my body by wearing an abaya. There are times I cover my hair and times I don’t. It is not compulsory for me to cover my hair, but a vast majority of the people living here do wear a hijab (head covering). If you’ve never had Middle Eastern food, you’re missing out! However, Riyadh is home to almost any western restaurant you can think of. This city is full of expats, so the food choices are endless.

I am still not done traveling, as you can see I’ve only dipped my toes in the water, but I do like that I will have a career path that’s different than teaching when I decide to try it out. I may even take my IMC degree with me into the education field. Being an ESL teacher has allowed me to travel and see the world and to meet the most amazing people along the way. It is because of my lifestyle I even discovered the IMC program. For that I am grateful.

I implore you to step out of your comfort zone and travel, the world is beautiful.

Milinda Gray is currently a TESOL teacher in Saudia Arabia, and she is a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications master’s program at WVU. 

Get Down to Business: 10 Qualities of Strong Job Seekers

August 11, 2017

I have had the good fortune of meeting and counseling thousands of job seekers during my life.

Former interns and co-workers, my alumni network, congressional aides, reporters and editors seeking to transition their careers, college professors on behalf of their top students, graduates of my own online course, colleagues in professional associations, and employers who have hired my mentees and want more employees like them all contact me for advice. Networking is the name of the game, and it beats solely searching for job postings.

After years of giving advice, it has become easy for me to spot the job seekers who have the most promise. They often exhibit these 10 attributes in exploring new positions or chances for advancement.

1. They know what they want and don’t want.

If an applicant says they are open to anything in any city, then I know that it’s far too broad for me to be helpful. Job seekers need to conduct research and know the types of positions, particular locations, and specific organizations they’d prefer working for to be able to secure specific recommendations and leads. Networking is more productive if people are realistic about their capabilities, experience and optimum job environments.

2. They are not obsessed with their résumés.

Résumés are essential, and should be complete, factual, concise and have no typographical or grammatical errors. However, it is excessive for someone to hire a résumé editor in the first 10 years of their career. Instead, job seekers should focus on WordPress sites, portfolios, short videos, business cards and other tools that complement their résumé.

3. They exhibit strong listening skills.

Time is precious for all parties. I do not need your life story or history of career failures to learn more about you and to offer some tips on networking targets and job leads. It is helpful if the person I am counseling is prepared to take good notes and to follow up quickly after our session. The first conversation we have — whether it’s on the phone, via email or in person — is not intended to be the only or last networking session.

4. They offer feedback and explanations in a purposeful and concise way.

The way people answer my questions is indicative of how they would do so in a formal job interview — and sometimes I am looking for talent to join our agency. Therefore, I appreciate those who are professional and provide constructive feedback.

5. They maintain a robust LinkedIn profile.

Employers I work with consult LinkedIn in almost every circumstance to learn about a job seeker’s career history. One should always try to maintain a positive online social media presence, especially during a job search.

6. They possess strong references and relationships.

It speaks volumes when someone takes the time and effort to ask for support and recommendations. Likewise, those who serve as references to young people are special individuals. It matters who you select, how well you know them and whether you trust what they say. For those who offer no substantive references: It will be a longer, more arduous job search without the human capital.

7. They connect with me, and other references, on social media.

If a prospective job seeker contacts me on LinkedIn or Twitter after a counseling session, I see it as positive and not presumptuous. Bring on the connections and the networking for life.

8. They’re willing to tap connections in their home state and alumni networks.

It speaks volumes when young people (or older adults seeking new career paths) have not consulted their home state or alumni networks. People in cities come from all over the globe, and we need to use every asset we have at our disposal in seeking jobs.

9. They are open to learning new skills, volunteering and meeting new people.

I look for individuals who are willing to take risks through internships, studying abroad and sometimes even delaying graduation by a semester for experiential opportunities. I also often invite people I have just met to accompany me to professional or networking events so they can meet people in a short time frame. Those who do not hesitate to take me up on the offer go up a rung on the ladder.

10. They follow up.

It doesn’t take much time to send a thank-you email or handwritten note, or offer a gesture that might help you stand out to someone who can guide your career search. The person who included a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card in her handwritten thank-you note, for instance, is someone I still periodically get lunch with.

Mike Fulton directs Asher Agency’s Washington, D.C. office and teaches public affairs at West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. He worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years and has been in communications and advocacy for the past 25 years. Connect with him at This blog post originally appeared in PRSA Tactics. 

Integrated Experiences

June 15, 2017


After a long anticipated wait, the day had finally arrived. I was headed down to the small town of Huntington, WV to attend INTEGRATE West Virginia. As I drove into town, I got butterflies and was so excited to attend my first INTEGRATE conference. You hear from everyone who has ever gone that the conference is outstanding, but you don’t quite believe it until you’ve experienced it. Now, I am one of those people saying just how outstanding the conference was.

From my first step into the door, the team welcomed me and introduced themselves. Finally being able to put names to faces was a relief and comforting in a way. It was special to know I had been working with some of these individuals for over two years and I finally was presented with the opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level rather than through our digital exchanges.

From that moment on, I was hooked. Networking opportunities left and right surrounded by captivating breakout sessions just made the whole experience memorable.

With each and every session I was in, I was able to walk away with a minimum of at least three ideas or concepts that could help me in my professional life today. Whether it was a trick with content or an idea with creative, each piece built up a pretty impressive puzzle by the end of the weekend.

The speakers proved to be some of the best in the industry. With the numerous awards to their names and countless nationally recognized campaigns, I was engulfed with every story and piece of information they told. Not only were they great to listen to, they all had wonderful senses of humor making the hour sessions fly by!

To me, however, the most rewarding aspect of the conference – networking. As you walk in, you instantly look around to put some names to some faces. You recognize a few professors and maybe a student or two you have had class with but once things get moving, you become the fastest friends with so many of these classmates and alumni. Getting to know more about conference attendees’ careers and how they are intertwined in the marketing communications web is so interesting and you truly learn so much. In addition to that, you make lifelong friends both personally and professionally.

If you haven’t been to INTEGRATE yet, I would highly suggest it. One of the best conferences I have literally ever been too given the quality of content and the opportunities to build your skill set and relationships with other marketing communications professionals.

Kelsey Berg is a current student in the WVU IMC Program. She is the marketing content coordinator for FootJoy. 

Teaching is a Life Changing Experience

June 1, 2017


Teaching is a normal extension of our careers in communications, marketing and advocacy. We do it every day with our co-workers, clients and those seeking to one day join our profession.

In 2010, I wanted to advance beyond periodic guest lectures, panel discussions and penning columns on best practices (I still enjoy those opportunities). That prompted me to seek out a more formal opportunity to teach public affairs in West Virginia University’s growing Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program. Developing a full-fledged, eight-week elective and teaching it in the WVU IMC program has been life-changing on multiple levels.

I am a better person, and I am a more valuable professional since I started teaching online and testing information, ideas and case studies with talented faculty and working adult students.

The students are demanding and responsive. That more than anything encourages me to keep up with current events, technological advances and continue to seek new and better solutions for public affairs, government communications and ethics challenges we all face in our everyday jobs. And the students each term continue to challenge me and conventional marketing methods. The evolution of our profession is fueled by technology and the constant blending of practices (public relations, advertising, marketing, social and digital, government affairs, grassroots and fundraising) that were once carried out in silos.

The diversity of our students – both backgrounds and experiences – adds to the rich learning environment we offer. Students welcome real-world solutions gleaned from faculty and fellow students to bring to their current jobs. It has also been rewarding to watch students apply their IMC course and degrees to secure well-deserved promotions and better jobs.

The continuing education and networking opportunities offered by IMC administrators and faculty is another side benefit of teaching. If you have not considered teaching formally and sharing your years of knowledge, I highly recommend it. The reflections and research experienced while developing your course, as well as its reception by students and faculty will make you a better practitioner and help you meet talented professionals you otherwise might not ever meet.

Be prepared for the positive changes in your life.

Mike Fulton directs the Washington, D.C. office of the Asher Agency and teaches IMC 638 Public Affairs. Connect with him at


The Keys to Event Marketing – Part 2: Inspire FOMO

May 11, 2017


FOMO—the Fear Of Missing Out—is a key motivator in many aspects of our lives.  We want to experience the museum exhibit that no one can get a ticket for, we’ll stand in line for an hour to try a cupcake, or we’ll book a trip to Iceland because everyone else seems to be doing it… FOMO applies to events too.  As a marketer, you have to figure out what makes your event special; special enough that people will take time away from their “regular life” to spend their time and money in order to learn or do something they would not typically get to experience.

There are two parts to creating this FOMO – one is actually planning an agenda and developing content that will be unique, inspiring, and engaging; two is making sure your target audience knows about how great the event is going to be and feel like they’ll miss out if they do not get to experience it.

With the access to so many free tutorials, videos, classes, networking events, etc. it can be hard to convince someone (or that someone’s boss) that an event is worth spending their time and money.  So, how do you do it?

First, read part 1 of this event marketing blog series and make sure you know your target audience and ways to use that information to your advantage.  Next, finalize your planning, then execute — hit send on your first email, post your first promotion tweet, and launch your Google Ad campaign!

Create Communications Timeline:

Events have hard deadlines, so start from the event date and work your way backwards.  Find out when key information will be available and define your timeline(s) – one timeline for prospective attendees and a second for registrants.  When does registration open and close?  When is the event’s schedule going to be finalized and available to share?  Are there key speakers or keynotes you will want to promote to entice registrations?  Are you providing an event mobile app and when will it be available to download?  Plotting out your key communications will allow you to divide up the outbound communications and decide how many times you’ll need to send prospective attendees and registrants information.

Choose Your Channels & Tactics:

When researching your target audience, identify not only what industry they work for, but see if you can infer other information that can inform your selection of marketing channels and tactics.  Can you identify “watering holes” where this audience goes for information—websites, social media, magazines, etc.?  Are there groups on LinkedIn that a larger percentage of the members fit your target audience?  Are there any trade shows you’re attending prior to your own event where your target audience is also in attendance?  Any information like this can help you to identify and focus in on where you need to be promoting and getting the word out about your event.

Now-a-days there are so many places to promote your event – your company website, outbound emails, your social media channels, paid social media (like LinkedIn InMail drops or Sponsored Content), Google re-marketing PPC ads, buying an eBlast for a partner to send out to their membership, etc.  Know your budget and choose the channels/tactics that will give you the most opportunities to reach your audience and will give you the best ROI.

Nail Your Messaging & Branding:

As an integrated marketing communications professional, one of your main goals is that the messaging and branding are consistent regardless of the channel or tactic, from the first invite to the directional signage onsite.  The color scheme of your event website should be pulled in to the design of your HTML emails; the tone of your tweets should build off the emails messaging; even the key speakers should relate to and/or speak to key themes brining your messaging to life face-to-face.  Every single touchpoint is the opportunity to reinforce and prove to your attendees that they made the right decision in choosing to attend your event.


Jennifer Maltba began her journey with the IMC program in August 2012; graduating in December 2014. Her favorite thing about the program was its ‘learn today, use tomorrow’ philosophy, which she felt truly made this a one-of-a-kind program.  A month after graduating, she took the position of Marketing Manager at Cvent, a global meeting and event technology provider headquartered in the DC area.  When not creating integrated marketing campaigns and tracking Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Jen can be found planning her next trip to somewhere new, exploring the neighborhoods of DC in search of the best food, or taking in the latest museum exhibit in our nation’s capital.  





May 4, 2017

INTEGRATE West Virginia will take place in Huntington, West Virginia, on June 2-3.

From one WVU IMC student to another, I would definitely recommend attending! Why? – The speakers, the location, the professors and the cost. For the inside scoop, read on!


INTEGRATE West Virginia will feature 13 world-class speakers, from across the country—Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Morgantown. Working for companies like Coca-Cola, Google and Verizon, their specialties range from tourism marketing to internal communications, and include everything in between. A couple highlights…

Andy Azula, senior vice president/executive creative director at The Martin Agency – INTEGRATE West Virginia’s keynote speaker, Andy Azula, has many claims to fame; however, he is best known as UPS’s “whiteboard guy.” This campaign was so famous, Azula got spoofed on Saturday Night Live!

Amanda Todorovich, director of content marketing at Cleveland Clinic – Named the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Content Marketer of the year, Amanda Todorovich is a nationally renowned speaker. She also manages Health Essentials, the number one most-visited hospital blog in the United States. 

Sebastian Webber, founder of CrowdSurge – This music industry executive has worked with a multitude of popular artists, including: Coldplay, Adele, Leona Lewis, M.I.A. and Sia! In 2010, his work landed him on Billboard magazine’s “30 under 30” list.

Listen to this! I heard Chad Mezera, assistant dean of online programs, say this is the best INTEGRATE line up yet!


Huntington is a rural, southern West Virginia town filled with local shops, unique restaurants and stunning greenery. Its small-town charm was recognized when it received first place in the America’s Best Communities competition in April 2017. While you’re there, be sure to check out the following.

For food: Fat Patty’s – This hometown restaurant is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Best known for its specialty burgers, Fat Patty’s was named by USA Today as one of the top 51 Burger Joints in America in 2013.

For drinks: Huntington Ale House – Offering customers more than 90 different beers, the Huntington Ale House has something for everyone. Whether you prefer a local, craft brew, or a simple, domestic draft, it’s here!

For fun: Take a tour of Marshall University’s campus – Founded in 1837, Marshall University is home to 13,631 students. As you walk the institution’s historic campus, I guarantee that some areas will look familiar, as they acted as sets for the 2006 blockbuster hit, “We Are Marshall.”

Here’s a tip! Bring your walking shoes. Huntington has some gorgeous scenery that you won’t want to miss!


INTEGRATE provides IMC students with an opportunity to connect with, not only one another, but also with their professors. Developing one-on-one relationships with the IMC program’s professors allows students to better understand course options, build their professional networks and obtain knowledgeable mentors. Here’s what you can expect!

The Alexia Vanides Teaching Award – Each year, one IMC professor is awarded the Alexia Vanides Teaching Award. This honor is decided upon by the program’s students. Did you pick the winner? Find out at INTEGRATE West Virginia!

Kristi Hansen Onkka – Developer of the IMC program’s newest course, IMC 693 – Augmented/Virtual Reality, Kristi Hansen Onkka will be at the conference. In addition to acting as a speaker, Hansen Onkka is bringing her AR/VR gear for attendees to try. Pick her brain about this new course while seats are still available!

Whitney Drake – A 2016 graduate of the IMC program, Whitney Drake is now working as a professor! Talk to Drake about her experiences, and the option of teaching after graduation.

Head’s up! There will be nine professors at INTEGRATE West Virginia.


When attending conferences, expenses add up quickly! In addition to paying for the conference, you must secure a hotel room, purchase food and pay for other miscellaneous expenses. As of now, I have been to nearly a dozen professional conferences. Of them, INTEGRATE is, by far, the cheapest. Check out these deals!

The conference – If you register by May 15, and use the code ‘INTWV,’ you can attend INTEGRATE West Virginia for only $200! That includes access to the event’s keynote dinner!

Your hotel – A limited number of rooms are available at the Pullman Plaza Hotel in Huntington, at a special conference rate of $94 per night. The hotel is within walking distance of the event, as well as many local shops and restaurants.

Dining – The INTEGRATE West Virginia event staff has worked to secure discounts from local restaurants for all conference attendees. All you have to do is show your name badge! 

Food for thought – to attend Content Marketing World 2017, it costs $2,000, and we are featuring one of the same speakers!

For more information about INTEGRATE West Virginia, or to register, please visit Contact Megan Bayles, public relations and marketing graduate assistant, at or 304-293-3286 with any questions.

I hope to see you in Huntington!


April 27, 2017




The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word integrate in the following manner.

Integrate: to make a person or group part of a larger group or organization

You are probably wondering why I am giving you a vocabulary lesson, but I promise, I have a point!

The first IMC Weekend took place in 2005. The event was founded to bring together WVU IMC students from across the country. It was intended to unite students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet one another. It was meant to make them feel that, even though they study online, they are, and will always be, part of the Mountaineer family.

The success of IMC Weekend warranted its continuation. In 2011, IMC Weekend transitioned into a full marketing communications conference. That’s when INTEGRATE was born!

The first INTEGRATE conference was held in Morgantown, West Virginia. Since then, it has traveled to multiple cities throughout America; cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and, soon, Huntington, West Virginia. The conference, which once attracted only WVU IMC students and faculty, expanded its audience and began drawing marketing communications professionals from all industries.

First you got a vocabulary lesson, and now a history lesson? What’s next?

The point is, despite its changes, the definition of INTEGRATE remains the same. INTEGRATE is a chance for marketing communications professionals to gather, learn, share and grow, both individually and as a collective unit. That is something that will never change, regardless of Merriam-Webster’s updates.

This year, we’ve teamed up with Marshall University to bring you INTEGRATE West Virginia. INTEGRATE West Virginia will take place June 2-3, in Huntington, West Virginia. This year’s conference will feature Andy Azula, senior vice president and executive creative director at The Martin Agency, as its keynote speaker.  For more information about the conference, or to register, please visit Contact Megan Bayles, public relations and marketing graduate assistant, at, with any questions.

The Keys to Event Marketing – Part 1: Know Your Audience

April 20, 2017


There are a multitude of reasons for organizations to host events, but planners and marketers tend to agree that the top reason is to build brand awareness, which will increase revenue or engagement, depending on what kind of organization.  To grow this awareness and drive revenue via an event, you must first generate interest, deliver registrations, and ensure attendance.  In this post, we’ll cover steps that should take place before you even hit send on the first email, post the first tweet, or spend your first dollar on a Google Ad.

Where it All Begins – The Target Audience:
There are multiple channels and tactics that can be used to get the word out about an event: email, social posts, direct mail, word-of-mouth, paid search ads, print ads, etc.  But before you choose how to reach prospective attendees, you must first consider the following – Who is your ideal audience? What do you know about them?  Why would they be interested in attending your event?  How will you reach them and persuade them to spend their money and time at your event?

Increase Relevancy by List Segmentation:
Once you have answered these questions and narrowed down your target audience, now consider how you segment them. By industry? By geography? By job title/job function?  By attendee type? Segmentation of your contact list will allow you to tailor your outbound messaging, such as email invites and paid digital ads, to be more relevant to the audience on which you are trying to reach.

Take IMC’s Integrate conference – the team marketing the event is targeting a variety of attendee types: previous attendees, speakers, professors, current students, former students, prospective students, industry professionals, and sponsors.  Imagine if they used the same messaging to try to invite someone to be a speaker as they did to invite a current student to participate… both the speaker and the current student would most likely delete that email because they wouldn’t think it was relevant to them.

Personalize with Data Tags:
Segmentation is the first step to being relevant and the second is using the information you know to personalize your communications.  Do you know their first name?  Use the <Insert First Name> data tag in the greeting to address them at the start of the email.  Do you know what industry they are in or company they work for?  Direct them to a page on the event website that is relevant to <insert industry here> professionals.  Were they an attendee at last year’s event?  Add a note at the top of the direct mail piece acknowledging that, something like: “We hope you enjoyed Integrate 2016.  We’re excited to invite you to join us again this year!”

Know Your Audience & Use It to Your Advantage:
In our world, nearly every experience is tailored to each person.  It is imperative that you look at all the information you know prior to launching your event marketing campaign.  Then see how you can use that information to make prospective attendees feel as if you are personally inviting them to your event.

Jennifer Maltba began her journey with the IMC program in August 2012; graduating in December 2014. Her favorite thing about the program was its ‘learn today, use tomorrow’ philosophy, which she felt truly made this a one-of-a-kind program.  A month after graduating, she took the position of Marketing Manager at Cvent, a global meeting and event technology provider headquartered in the DC area.  When not creating integrated marketing campaigns and tracking Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Jen can be found planning her next trip to somewhere new, exploring the neighborhoods of DC in search of the best food, or taking in the latest museum exhibit in our nation’s capital.  

Invest in Yourself

April 13, 2017


Tax Day brings up many mixed emotions—stress to hit the deadline, relief when it’s over and for many, excitement to receive a tax refund. While people are experiencing the many emotions of Tax Day, it is a reminder about empowering ourselves with the expendable money from our tax returns.

Graduate school is more than a financial commitment. Earning a master’s degree is an investment in your future with your time, energy and money, but the return on investment is key.


While the Big Bang Theory’s protagonist, Sheldon Cooper devoted an excessive amount of time to academics, I would be lying if I said graduate school wasn’t a time commitment. Luckily with IMC, once you complete the introductory IMC 610 course, the rest of the classes follow a similar structure. In my personal experience, I work around the deadlines in place such as the paper on Monday, discussion posts on Wednesday and discussion responses on Friday. I budget my time based on the deadlines in place and try to work around my full-time work schedule and personal obligations.

Mental Energy
Integrated Marketing Communications is a creative field, which is one of the many reasons I selected IMC for my master’s degree. However, after working a full day in our industry and coming home to continue writing sometimes it can be a challenge. In order to combat creative “fatigue”, I try to brainstorm writing ideas for school during my spare time and plan writing times when I’m creatively fresh, such as first thing in the morning. Everyone has a preference on the best writing times rather first thing in the morning, afternoon, evening or late-night. When you figure out your best writing time it will greatly improve your mental energy spent on innovative and original school work.

College students are often stereotyped as struggling financially. Fortunately, with the flexibility of an online master’s program IMC students do not have to abandon their full-time careers to go back to school. Of course, graduate school is a financial investment but there are opportunities to work while pursuing your degree and students don’t have to sacrifice career momentum in order to obtain a master’s degree.

With any investment, it is critical to figure out the return-on-investment. The IMC program is a commitment of time, energy and finances. However, the return-on-investment greatly outweighs the upfront work for the master’s degree. I may sound biased as an upcoming May 2017 grad but many alumni feel the same about the program’s ROI. Over 97.9% of graduate would recommend the IMC program and 88% believe the degree led them to a better position or promotion.

As Tax Day rolls around the corner this Monday, think about the ways you are investing in yourself and your future this year. It could be an excellent opportunity to invest in a graduate degree with the WVU Reed College of Media online programs.