My capstone experience

I am a learner. I love reading articles, books, taking courses – you name it. If I can learn from it, I’m in.

But, even so, it took me a while to go back and get my master’s degree. I knew it would be an investment, and because of that, I wanted to choose wisely. I left college years ago, went on to have a series of great jobs, and slowly came back around to the idea of going back to school.

But there was one problem – I wasn’t willing to leave my great job to go back to school. I wanted the best of both worlds – to work on my master’s degree while working full-time, and I also wanted to make connections along the way. After seriously considering several schools, I chose the Corporate and Organizational Communications Master’s program at Northeastern. One thing that really drew me to the school was that is built for professionals – there was no requirement to quit a job I loved to further my education.

With hindsight and my degree in hand, it was clearly a good choice. I learned a tremendous amount under many wonderful professors throughout my course of study. They were engaged and knowledgeable, helped me grow quite a bit in my chosen field, and even went above and beyond by offering professional advice outside of my coursework.

In addition to the body of knowledge and mentors I gained from the program, I was also given the opportunity to participate in the capstone course. This course gives students a chance to test out their new skills gained in the program by working as a consultant on a project with a real organization. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about the world of consulting and add to my organizational experience. I applied to the course, shared an introductory video along with my resume, and was eventually paired with a small nonprofit – perfect for me because I am already very familiar with the nonprofit world, it aligned with my values, and it exposed me to a small nonprofit setting after my long experience with large organizations.

My classmates and I entered this capstone course as a cohort and became a consulting team under the guidance of an experienced professor. We worked with our organizations to tackle the projects at hand, and would bring our ideas and questions to the table in order to gain the benefit from everyone else’s expertise as well.  Working on this capstone project gave me an entirely new context in which to draw upon my experience and newfound knowledge to make an impact. The capstone pushed me to harness what I had learned in my formal education and to pair it with my professional expertise in new, very real ways.

And luckily, I was able to do this all under the guidance of my professor, Dr. Zangerl, so I had the added benefit of knowing that I had an expert reviewing my work and making sure I was on the right track. He asked questions of all of us to push us that much more. We learned the art of consulting while actually doing the work.

Two big things came out of this capstone course: For one, I was able to help a worthy organization, which was a wonderful feeling. But also, it helped me clearly see how much I had grown over the course of my study and how valuable my skillset is. This experience gave me a new level of confidence that I have taken with me after graduation.

Posted by Stacy Raine, CPS’18

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