I realize my first blog was kind of a throw in your face, so I figured I would back track a bit and let you know who that person was telling you what to do. I am Heather Owen, a nearly-graduated senior in the Communications Department with a specialty in International Relations. Following my December graduation, I plan on applying to the State Department to begin work towards becoming a U.S. diplomat.
Wait…did I say Communications? Do they even have that at Riddle? News flash: Riddle isn’t just airplanes. I have been in the program for four and a half years.
I am always asked “why Embry-Riddle for the Communications Department?” Well, I have always loved to write. I love giving speeches. Oh, and I kind of enjoy airplanes. However, though I knew I liked these topics, I didn’t quite know what I “wanted to be when I grew up.” I quickly found the Communications Department had plenty to offer. Along with the typical public relations/marketing/journalism curriculum of any other collegiate communications department, Riddle offers an aviation specialty, a niche with many openings, yet few applicants.
Even though I graduate in seventy-six days (not like I am counting), I am not nervous. Graduates from the program have gone into broadcast journalism, aviation-related journalism, public relations, and even law school. None of which is my career path, but the diversity of our program is what makes me a strong post-graduate applicant.
A diploma from the “Harvard of the Sky” alone will open doors, but it has been the experiences I have had that will get my name on the corner office door. Internships and co-ops are the best and easiest way to gain first-hand knowledge. In addition to Career Services, I found my internships thanks to help within my department. The student-to-faculty ratio in the Communications Department is very small, so I quickly got to know all of my professors. As it turned out, I have had that handful of professors for all four years. It was these same instructors who were instrumental in finding me internships and helping me find my career path.
Because I was still on the fence about careers up until my senior year, I took two internships to better acquaint myself with the communications career field. For my first internship, I spent my 2006 summer working for WESH 2 News, located in Daytona Beach. I was on the call with the reporters, riding shotgun in the news van on the way to fires, robberies and homicides. I sat in on court cases, interviewed city officials and visited such fine institutions such as the Volusia County Jail to interview fine, law-abiding residents. I admit the fast-paced dramatics, and getting to “know all the dirt” truly interested me. However, I wasn’t ready to acquire the stigma of a TV news reporter. My second internship this past spring had me working in the Embry-Riddle Athletics Department with the Sports Information Department. I had been in the Athletics Department for four years as a cheerleader, so I was very appreciative to work with those who also supported the Eagles. As a sports marketing intern, I updated statistics, wrote biographies on the players and taped important games. I enjoyed the press passes to games, setting up early morning track meets, and cheering on the Eagles, but I had one big issue. Although I have been a cheerleader for eleven years, I just don’t like sports. I don’t understand them, like to watch them or even care to talk about them. Despite striking out on potential future careers, I learned a lot from the two internships. I found the positives and negatives about the communications field so when I do land a job, I will know what to look for.
So now my senior year. I was set to graduate with a prominent degree, had two internships, had participated in a few activities here and there and gained a few future job insights. However, I wasn’t content with the content of my resume. So, in an utterly rash move which I thoroughly rejoiced about later, I decided to do study abroad and push off graduation. I spent five weeks of my summer in China, speaking Chinese, learning about Chinese culture and just enjoying a culture shock. I continued my education with another three weeks in Prescott studying Chinese.
From the moment I got back to Daytona, I had a path. I want to travel the world. I want to speak foreign languages. I want to play a part in international relations. I want to know the scoop. Oh, and I want a press pass to a non-sport activity (just one of my job insights). Diplomacy is my answer and the State Department will receive my newly minted resume in December. Along with the study abroad on my resume, I also added that I am a sister in the Theta Omicron chapter of Alpha Xi Delta, sweetheart to the Eta Iota chapter of Sigma Chi, cheered for three and a half years at Riddle and am now a devoted student. I am conversant in German and I like to think my English is decent too. Better than a list of do’s and don’ts from a lowly Communications major, huh?