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Hear from Former CMST Students

Are you a former CMST student who’d like to share your story? Let us know!

Lauren Hamrick
Communication Studies, 2019

I am in the Agent Training Program at United Talent Agency, a leading global talent and entertainment company, with an office in Nashville. I work in the music department where the name of the game is live touring—receiving offers from talent buyers across the world, confirming shows, routing our artists, all for the ultimate goal of seeing successful shows played. I spend each day learning the fundamentals of the agency business as it relates to music, performing administrative tasks as well as exploring creative frontiers such as designing admats and artwork, writing artist pitches, editing press releases, and so forth.

Taking Communication Studies courses like Persuasion and Rhetoric of Mass Media have best equipped me for this kind of job; one must be articulate and know how to formulate a compelling argument for why someone should pay their artist money to perform. Entertainment’s relationship to mass media and the dissemination of information about our roster into the pop culture and consumer space also requires an understanding of how and why language choice in the digital age is important. While I’m not doing much resembling writing long essays or taking written exams, the discipline of writing and the ability to manage the workload that comes with the Communications program are invaluable and have refined me as a professional.

Mirah Alix
Communication Studies and Sociology, 2018

I’m a Sociology PhD Student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. My work studies refugee employment outcomes by organizational sector. I’ve always found Sociology and Communication Studies to be complementary in my research projects, be it through political interpretations of social phenomena, providing a unique lens on the media representation of certain demographic groups, or simply having effective communication of results. I’m also a freelance writer for social impact blogs, Toasting Good and Brightly – having a Communications degree definitely gets your foot in the door for similar opportunities!

Prior, I worked as a Category Specialist/Buyer at Walmart eCommerce in the Bay Area. I was responsible for sourcing new vendors and products, forecasting inventory, developing online marketing strategies, and negotiating for lower costs. Often, I presented these plans to internal teams as well as external partners. Having taken Public Speaking at Vanderbilt definitely boosted by strategic mindset and confidence throughout the role. I was also thankful to have studied Business Communication to help me navigate such a large bureaucratic corporation.

Chloe Herzog
Communication Studies, 2017

I am an associate consultant with Mercer, a global human resources consulting firm. Every day I help clients prepare for the future of work in a world that is increasingly transformed by digitalization and the volatile political landscape. I’ve helped global organizations deploy artificial intelligence to enhance their employee experience, and at the same time engaged business leaders on the financial impact of minimum wage policy change.

CMST courses such as Business Communication taught me how to negotiate and speak confidently on behalf of my firm when discussing new and pertinent challenges. Other classes such as Rhetoric, Culture and Critique provided me a strong foundation for understanding how people interact and are influenced by the world around them. As a result, I feel confident advocating for workplace practices that empower individuals. Communications Studies at Vanderbilt taught me the necessary skills to partake in conversations that are changing the way we live and work, and for that I say thank you.

Laura Hillsman
Communication Studies, 2017

After graduating from Vanderbilt, I started law school at Georgetown University; I will graduate in May 2020. I am part of the first cohort of Technology Law and Policy Scholars, which means I focus on intellectual property and technology issues. After graduation I will be specializing in privacy law at a law firm.

I always knew I wanted to be a Communication Studies major and I declared my major the first semester that Vanderbilt would allow it. The Communication Studies program was an incredibly valuable part of my undergraduate experience, and it really prepared me for law school. During my junior year I took Communication and the First Amendment with Professor Wood and I would highly recommend that class to anyone that is considering a career in law. Reading and analyzing cases for that class reinforced my decision to go to law school. No matter what your plan is for after graduation though, Communication Studies will prepare you for it. The critical thinking, writing, and analytical skills that you develop here will serve you well wherever you go.

Rachel Kalichman
Communication Studies, 2017

After graduating with a degree in Communication Studies, I joined a tech start-up called pymetrics. I currently work as a Marketing Manager. pymetrics is revolutionizing the way companies hire. Rather than resumes, we match candidates to jobs based on their cognitive and emotional skills using a set of neuroscience games, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. We create a hiring process that is efficient, effective, and bias-free.

Communication Studies has brought so much value to my role and life after Vanderbilt. Critical thinking, writing, public speaking, and media analysis are skills I use on a daily basis. In class, we often analyzed various social movements and the rhetoric that went along with each. The Future of Work is a social movement in itself. Looking back on how companies used to hire and how they are making changes in their process to mirror our transforming workforce is absolutely fascinating; I would not have picked up on how powerful the movement is if not for Communication Studies.

Kara Wilson
Communication Studies and English, 2017

After graduating from Vanderbilt with a double-major in Communication Studies and English, I was hired on as the Worship Coordinator of a church of about 1,000 people with three campuses and four worship venues just east of Kansas City, Missouri. As of August 2019, I am pursuing a degree in Masters of Divinity at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. In addition to my graduate studies, I am also serving as a local pastor in Monticello, Georgia (pronounced with an “s” sound, not a “ch” sound), where I can foster a higher proportion of one-on-one relationships in the church. My professional goals are to empower and cultivate exceptional spiritual leadership within and beyond church institutions, and hope to do so as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

You are most likely not considering a career in ministry, but if you are interested in a career that has anything to do with public dialogue, community building, public speaking, or working with people of different backgrounds, Communication Studies will prepare you for it. Even though I majored in two admittedly similar subjects, Communication Studies is also a great companion for other programs such as Political Science, History, and Religious Studies. After taking Professor Wood’s course on Rhetoric of U.S. Religion, I gained a richer and deeper appreciation for the diversity of religious beliefs and practices in the United States, and now I feel more equipped to dialogue with people who hold vastly different beliefs than I do. Through the course of my studies I also learned about the significant contributions of African-Americans and women to American and Christian public dialogue, from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Martin Luther King Jr. to Barack Obama. Reading great speeches and learning rhetorical theory from different viewpoints has been incredibly valuable to me, and I imagine it will be valuable to you as well.

Tsian Beddoe
Communication Studies, 2016

I am a Jr. Art Director at Sapient, an advertising agency in Miami, Florida. My role involves concepting and executing campaigns for clients in a variety of industries that include travel, fitness, automotive, and banking.

I knew that I wanted to pursue a degree in Communication Studies, but I was never sure what I ultimately wanted to do with it. I also pursued minors in Corporate Strategy and Cinema and Media Arts. As part of a minor requirement, I took a class in creative advertising; for the first time I saw how my courses of study fit together. Advertising allowed me to combine my love for art and communication with the strategic and critical thinking skills that I’d gained during my time at Vandy. While I did have to attend Miami Ad School to build a portfolio, ultimately what set me apart and helped me succeed was my background in Communication Studies. Courses like Public Speaking and Persuasion have proven invaluable in my work, where strong presentation skills can make or break an idea. The thorough research and analysis required for courses like Rhetoric of Civic Life and Women, Rhetoric and Social Change is what has set me apart in countless pitches–bosses and clients alike have expressed how impressed they are by such strategically sound and well-researched ideas. As a whole, the CMST program gave me the ability to clearly articulate and support my ideas, be it vocally or in writing, and that is a skill that I think is the foundation of any career.

Quincie Li
Communication Studies, 2016

I currently work as a Television Literary Assistant at ICM Partners, which is an overly formal way of saying that I answer phones and schedule meetings for my boss in the hopes of one day becoming a TV development executive. (TV execs are the people who buy ideas that then turn into scripts that then turn into episodes that then turn into the show you’re currently binge-watching on Netflix.) Had I not stumbled into a special topics CMST course my freshman year, a class called “Rhetoric of Television,” I would not have known that I wanted to work in television. Majoring in Communication Studies taught me that communication, at its best, holds the unparalleled power to make us more empathetic. It bridges gaps across generations and cultures. That understanding motivates me professionally, and it gets me through grueling 12 hour work days. Plus, if it weren’t for this department, I’d be a far less engaged and self-aware person today…with way fewer fun facts about presidential speeches! I feel so grateful for the enriching academic experience I had at Vanderbilt. To the best professors, classmates, and department–thank you.

Amanda Marcotullio
Communication Studies and HOD, 2016

After graduating from Vanderbilt I started working as a Marketing Coordinator at ESPN in New York City, where I coordinated the brand strategy, creative development, and execution of all marketing campaigns for SportsCenter, 30 for 30 Films, and ESPN’s other studio shows. Since then I have taken on a new role within ESPN Marketing as a Marketing Manager on Emerging Brands and Properties. In this role I focus specifically on expanding our audience towards more youth and women through the strategic development of marketing campaigns on our brands that have upside potential with those key segments. These brands include espnW, Wimbledon, US Open, Little League World Series, X Games, esports, ESPN8 The Ocho, and more. This focus on youth and women requires me to stay incredibly up to date with the latest media, consumption, and communication habits so I can understand how to better serve and appeal to those groups. Taking Communication Studies courses sparked my passion for studying media and the influence that its message can have on society and culture. Every day I apply what I learned in order to think through the way we communicate our brands to consumers in today’s rapidly changing media landscape.

Matt Harper
Communication Studies, 2015

I am a financial planning & analysis (FP&A) manager at Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the parent company of the BURGER KING® and TIM HORTONS® brands. In my role, I lead a small team to manage approx. $190 million in compensation and benefits spending globally. Though the connection to Communication Studies may not be obvious, I think about argument theory every day in my job. The same logic applies to explaining a multi-million budget variance as constructing a cogent argument for a paper or debate. I’ve become not only the go-to communications person in my department (for company-wide emails, important presentations, and the like), but also one of the leading analytical workers in my class, in part due to the manner of thinking that true rhetorical analysis demands.

Tierra Johnson
Communication Studies and English, 2015

Currently, I work as a Social Media Coordinator at A+E Networks in New York City, specifically for A&E and HISTORY. My program at A+E is a two-year program where participants rotate through two different departments, including Social Media, Programming, Marketing, Talent Relations, etc. I found this to be a good way for me to get a better feel for entertainment, after previously working in news as an Assignment Editor in Memphis, TN. Through majoring in Communication Studies, I found a passion for media and a love for analyzing movies, television shows, articles, social media, and more. It thrills me to understand media and its ability to affect what we think, how we think, and when we think about our identities and society as a whole. As a Social Media Coordinator, it’s important to note that one description, post, or sentence about a show or brand can completely alter the way audiences view it – for better or for worse. With the proper attention, a few words can turn into a lasting and meaningful memory. The ability to critically think about media and analyze its potential to affect its audiences is a skill that carried its way through all of my CMST courses.

Steven Ringel
Communication Studies, 2015

In my current role as an Associate Consultant at Bain & Co., I use what I learned in Communication Studies classrooms every day. Building client relationships is a key part of my job at Bain, and the interpersonal communication skills I gained in my CMST courses help me do this successfully. The analytical skills taught in classes such as Argumentation and Debate help me problem solve and devise strategies that help my clients become leaders in their industries. In addition, the opportunity to speak publicly in class and at events such as the semi-annual department sponsored Frank K. Houston Speech Competition has given me the confidence and ability to effectively articulate my thoughts in daily team meetings and executive level presentations. I would recommend the Communication Studies major to students who want learn how to critically engage in dialogues and careers that shape change across a spectrum of industries.

Hope Tone
Communication Studies and History, 2015

I am currently a second year law student at Notre Dame Law School. I plan on practicing litigation in Chicago. At Notre Dame, I serve as the president of the Notre Dame Moot Court Board. Next spring, I will have the privilege of presenting oral argument in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. My undergraduate degree made my success at Notre Dame possible, because the professors in the Communication Studies department helped me develop strong persuasive writing and speaking skills. As an undergraduate, my rhetoric classes improved the substance of my speech and my public speaking classes improved my style. My degree has set me on the path to be an effective advocate for my future clients.

Luke Anapolis
Communication Studies and Philosophy, 2014

I chose to major in Communication Studies as I wanted to immerse myself in a discipline that was challenging and exciting, but one that would also prepare me with transferable job skills. The CMST major is interdisciplinary in its nature, helping you with public speaking, rhetorical analysis, and cultural theory, also exposing you to disciplines such as history, philosophy, film and media studies, and women and gender studies. Beyond the classroom, graduates of the CMST department leave with a toolkit of transferable skills that include oral and written communication, analytical thinking, and problem solving. These desirable skills paired with internship experiences, helped me stand out to recruiters during my job search. I was hired out of college by Google as a marketing consultant, where I helped digital advertising agencies find success with Google products and have since moved into an internal project management role. The knowledge and skills I gained from my CMST degree are put to use every day, and as a result have helped me grow my career.

Cierra Lockett
Communication Studies and Psychology, 2014

I am currently a graduate student at Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television in the Writing & Producing for TV MFA program. My goal is to become a television writer, as I write stories that capture the voices and experiences of women and people of color. Earning a Communication Studies degree taught me to think critically about media’s influence on society and culture, and rhetoric’s power to create change. I’m grateful that I learned how to see the world through different perspectives, and that I can confidently reshape the lens through which others do as well.

Jacqueline Miller
Communication Studies, 2014

I currently work as a research associate at the Education Advisory Board, a higher education research firm in Washington, DC. In this role, I interview, research, and answer questions for universities and community colleges about issues they’re experiencing on campus. My major in Communication Studies provided me with essential research, writing, and public speaking experience that I have applied to this role as well as the other two positions I’ve held since graduation. Additionally, studying rhetoric and persuasion provided me with insight about the power of language that I apply when I write reports and communicate with executives. Lastly, I love that in addition to preparing me for the professional world, my CMST major enabled me to study one of my favorite subjects—U.S. history—and learn how to view modern day media with a more informed and analytical perspective.

Kristen Mosley
Communication Studies & Education Studies, 2014

I am currently a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin researching teacher stress and retention in low-income, K-12 public schools. After majoring in Communication Studies and Educational Studies, I was accepted to the 2014 Dallas-Fort Worth Teach For America Corps. During and after my time as a TFA corps member, I taught first grade, third-fifth grade reading intervention, and eventually served as the campus dean overseeing 45 instructional staff and 600 scholars in our International Baccalaureate authorized school. I also earned an M.Ed. from Southern Methodist University, during which my appreciation for research was renewed, and the critical eye I originally developed through the CMST program was strengthened. I am grateful for the experiences the CMST major provided in analyzing and developing written and oral communication, as these skills have transcended all endeavors since graduation.

Andrew Smelser
Communication Studies, 2014

Admittedly, I chose the Vanderbilt CMST department because I had an interest in pursuing a career in law or journalism postgrad. My current role as an Engineering Quality Consultant for Eventbrite isn’t the path I planned to follow, though I still put my degree to good use everyday! Eventbrite is an online ticketing and registration platform. We ticket conventions, music festivals, and lots of concerts here in Nashville and around the world. You’ve probably been to an event we ticketed and don’t even know it!

My responsibility at Eventbrite is to help coach software engineers towards delivering high quality experiences for the creators who use our site for their events, and the attendees who attend those events. I also act as a project manager for initiatives that aim to improve product quality. Though my technical skills were honed mostly after I graduated, my time at Vanderbilt taught me valuable strategies for studying and exploring new concepts.

I revisit learnings from my public speaking classes most often, as I frequently lead meetings and present projects to my team. I also speak regularly at conferences, and it is a lot easier to speak comfortably in my new domain with a background in communication.

Jennifer Berger
Communication Studies, 2013

I am currently the Director of Sales at Slice, a NYC-based technology startup that empowers local and independent pizzerias nationwide to compete with “Big Pizza” chains, through online ordering technology. In this role, I am responsible for direct selling to restaurants, as well as leading a team of salespeople through coaching and trainings to hit our team goals. The CMST degree I received from Vanderbilt taught me invaluable public speaking skills and comfortability presenting in front of a large group, which has directly translated to my success in phone sales and sales leadership. Specifically, the CMST courses on rhetoric helped be to become a strategic thinker, analyzer, and heightened my skills in professional writing, all of which have helped me grow in my professional career.

Ariel Kanter
Communication Studies, 2013

I am currently working at American Express as a Digital Marketing Senior Analyst for Plenti, the US’s first loyalty coalition. Plenti lets its millions of members earn and redeem rewards from a network of partner companies like Macy’s, Rite Aid, Exxon Mobil, Chili’s, and more. In my role, I own the end-to-end digital marketing strategy for Plenti’s two revenue-driving commerce programs, including an online affiliate shopping mall and a local dining program. My degree in CMST has equipped me with key skills like oral and written communication, the ability to think critically and strategically, as well as an introduction into the rhetoric of mass media; these skills have directly enabled me to gain buy in from teams across the business, create and revise marketing collateral, develop an overall marketing strategy for the commerce programs, and ultimately drive business goals. I am grateful to have learned such transferable skills from my communication courses that have continued to help me grow & develop my career.

Jade Kipperman
Communication Studies, 2013

I am currently a Business Analyst in the COO Management Office at UBS Financial Services Inc. This role is focused on planning, communication, and implementation of key strategic and regulatory projects across Wealth Management, the Investment Bank, and Asset Management in the Americas Region, with a key emphasis on risk management. While it may not seem like a major in Communication Studies immediately lends itself to a career in finance, I find myself continually relying on and building upon the rhetorical skills that I learned at Vanderbilt. On any given day, I am responsible for developing a variety of decks with accompanying talking points to be presented to either internal (the Board of Directors, Senior Management) or external (regulators) stakeholders. CMST taught me how to most effectively develop an argument, and perhaps more importantly how to best share that argument with and tailor it to a wide range of audiences.

Courtney Kissack
Communication Studies and Spanish, 2013

I am currently a Regional Development Representative with ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In this role, I coordinate and execute events in the Middle Tennessee area, including the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway, St. Jude Up ‘Til Dawn, and Promesa y Esperanza Radiothon for St. Jude. The CMST major was integral in my success in starting at St. Jude, as I interned for St. Jude through a Communication Studies Independent Study in Fall 2010. Courses like Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication provided key techniques for entering the workplace, while courses involving the study of rhetoric and persuasion have proved crucial in my role as a fundraiser. I am incredibly grateful to the entire Department of Communication Studies for guiding the first steps in my career and lifelong passion: St. Jude’s mission of finding cures and saving children.

Arielle Matza
Communication Studies and Political Science, 2013

I am currently a third-year law student at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where I am a Notes Editor of the Cardozo Law Review, and a legal intern for the Law Department at NBCUniversal, where I spent my first year after graduating from Vanderbilt as a member of the NBC Page Program. This fall, after my graduation from law school, I will be a corporate associate at the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, where I plan to practice in mergers and acquisitions and intellectual property law. My degree in communication studies has proved invaluable to me in my many diverse academic and professional experiences since Vanderbilt. I have used the oral and written communication, argumentation, research, and critical thinking skills that I developed in my communication courses every single day as a law student—whether it be while articulating coherent arguments in classes as a student of the Socratic Method, advocating for clients in legal memoranda as a summer associate at my law firm, or drafting well-reasoned judicial opinions as an intern in a U.S. district court judge’s chambers. In addition, my studies of mass media equipped me with a fundamental understanding of the changing media and entertainment industries, which I have relied upon in my various positions at leading entertainment companies, ranging from audience coordination as a Page, to intellectual property protection as a legal intern. My dual major from Vanderbilt has laid the groundwork for an exciting legal career, and for this, I am grateful.

Jennifer Quan
Communication Studies, English, Sociology, 2013

I graduated from Vanderbilt (BA ’13) with degrees in Communication Studies, English, and Sociology. My CMST degree helped me to expand my platform in cross-cultural communication and international relations. More than just pretty talk, communication is about spreading a variety of messages to diverse, international audiences. After I graduated, I worked in China in education management, assisting students in personal and academic development. Currently, I am working towards my Masters in Business Administration at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France, where I have the chance to apply my soft skills in my daily business courses and school environment.

Leslie Buchanan
Communication Studies and English, 2012

I graduated from Vanderbilt in 2012 with a double major in Communication Studies and English. While at Vanderbilt, I thrived in the analytical and research-driven environment CMST professors created, and I sought to improve my skills in speaking, writing, and arguing logically and clearly. Upon graduation, I worked with NBC Sports as a digital producer for the 2012 London Games. During my time in sports, I realized my passion for interviewing, writing, editing and digital media. I then attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in January 2013, specialized in interactive production and graduated in December 2013 with my master’s in journalism. I now work at Vanderbilt as an IT communications specialist with VUIT.

Jamie Landau
Communication Studies and English, 2002

I did not plan on majoring in Communication Studies when enrolling at Vanderbilt. Nor did I imagine that studying Communication would become my life-long profession and passion. I’m currently an Associate Professor of Communication at a public liberal arts college in the northeast. Before working in higher education, I interned at a book publishing company, a magazine, and a public relations firm, and once was a full-time newspaper reporter. I teach college students and conduct research on how verbal discourse and visual media rhetorically impact U.S. public policy and social change related to gender/sexuality and health/medicine. Now I’m also a university administrator who coordinates professional development for faculty, as well as I lead initiatives to support the LGBTQ community on campus. As a double-major in Communication Studies and English at Vanderbilt, I honed my writing skills, practiced public speaking, and learned how to craft a persuasive argument– these experiences benefit me every day in my life and career. Additionally, I became a feminist while at Vanderbilt! Thanks to classes with Professor John Sloop such as “Communication, Culture, Consciousness,” “Rhetoric of Mass Media,” and “Rhetoric of Gender Trouble,” I realized not only how communication constructs gender/sexuality and social inequity, but also that it was up to me and my peers to rhetorically change the world we live in to empower women and the LGBTQ community.

Sam Friedlander
Communication Studies, 2000

I graduated from Vandy (BA ’00) with a major in Communications and a minor in Film Studies. I currently work in film and television, primarily producing, writing and directing. While at Vanderbilt, I loved the interdisciplinary nature of Communications Studies, and in the professional world I have found that this broad foundation has provided me with invaluable skills for interpersonal and group interactions, as well as for effective leadership. I loved the theoretical basis of the program, and along with the technical expertise I gained during graduate school, I feel I have a very well rounded education for the entertainment field. I honestly can’t imagine a career path where this major wouldn’t be applicable and highly useful.