Surprise! There is more to corporate communications than writing press releases. We showcased this with five Boston-based graduate students, who joined the MilliporeSigma Corporate Communications team for a day. As alumni from the Corporate and Organizational Communication’s program, we know how exciting it can be to apply classroom learning in the real world.
My name is Kendall Coyne and I am very fortunate to be a Double Husky (B.A.’15 & M.S. ’17) and a member of Team USA! My journey on Huntington Avenue began back in 2011 and on October 25th, I’ll be returning to Boston to compete against Team Canada in the women’s ice hockey Olympic Tour.
As a student athlete, my first two years at Northeastern were mostly spent on the corner of St. Botolph and Gainsborough – i.e., Matthews Arena. In 2013, the summer after my sophomore year, I was invited to try out for Team USA. I made it! I ended up taking a gap year between my sophomore and junior years to train full-time and compete in my first Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. After a heartbreaking loss to Team Canada, we took home a silver medal.
In 2015, Carlos Colon Raldiris, relocated from his island home in Puerto Rico to the vibrant city of Boston to advance his studies in project management at Northeastern University. He completed his undergraduate degree in Public Communication with Film and TV Production at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. Carlos reminisced about his last semester working as an intern at a small agency called Nostrom Images Group Corp. He assisted in the production processes for TV commercials. In addition, Carlos produced a short movie and a music video for his advanced film courses as a part of his final projects.
Upon starting classes for his degree in project management, Carlos discovered that the Public Relations concentration within the Masters of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication was more appealing. He decided to change his direction and pursue this new passion in public relations. “Even if you have an idea or mindset about something, that doesn’t mean that’s what you are going to end up doing,” explained Carlos. He was selected for a co-op offering the opportunity to use his public relations knowledge and broadcasting background.
Landing the Right Co-op
As the saying goes, “third time is the charm.” Carlos first worked at a public relations agency, then a marketing agency. Those two experiential learning opportunities helped to prepare him for his “favorite” and third co-op at American Public Television. Carlos was hired at American Public Television as a Business Development and Marketing Assistant. His role included but was not limited to composing press releases, notification letters to producers and creating marketing materials for international TV buyers at an annual convention in Paris.
Carlos shared, “Northeastern has a great way of preparing students for work,” as he highlighted ways in which he planned for his co-op. During the co-op preparation process, Carlos learned how to connect his personal objectives with his professional endeavors from his co-op course, Career and Development. He researched various organizations and job requirements to ensure they were in line with his career.
Not only had Carlos gained experience in storytelling, media and broadcasting, he also tapped into his acting skills by appearing in a few documentaries as a prop.
The Power of Co-op
The type of real-world experience Carlos attained during his co-op created a pathway for him to apply for a full-time position at WGBH Television. “This co-op helped me to target exactly where I wanted to go,” Carlos shared. His co-op encouraged him to hone his networking skills, cross-cultural communication skills, and gain work experience while completing his masters program. Carlos voiced, “It’s important to learn how to address intercultural differences in the workplace. I experienced this at the office, but I was never frustrated because Northeastern taught me how to deal with it.” He also mentioned how he learned to adjust to different organizational cultures while being cognizant of the various communication styles. One challenge he overcame was learning how to brand himself and network in a room filled with CEOs from popular television networks, such as PBS.
Carlos shared some advice for co-op and job-seekers:
- Don’t let the opinion of others dictate where you go. “You need to taste the waters of wherever you want to go.”
- Take your co-op seriously, be responsible. But, don’t forget to have fun as well.
- “Doing a co-op/internship is the best thing,” exclaimed Carlos “everyone should do it if they want to have a successful professional life.”
- Build relationships with your colleagues in the office. “Don’t always be formal. There are moments when the informal interaction matters.”
- “Do your job at work, but also check other parts in the office where you can help someone.”
Carlos shared that his third and final co-op was incredibly rewarding. He was able to view the TV industry through different lenses, from co-op student at American Public Television to a full-time Broadcasting Scheduling Assistant at WGBH Television. Carlos will continue to immerse himself in the TV industry. His ultimate career goal is to become a writer/producer of short films and/or documentaries.
Posted by Racquel Muir, CPS ‘17
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
My friend, Teeraporn Johsuntorn (TJ), asked me one day, “Michelle, what would you do if you were not afraid?” I could not answer the question immediately. There were so many things I wanted to do but never did. TJ told me that she was inspired by the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Sandberg, S. 2013). She asked herself this question and decided to do something brave. In November 2016, TJ and her friends Zirui Yan and Dasom Jung founded a social circle on campus at Northeastern University called “Lean In Circle” for gathering people to learn and grow together. After I read this book, I wanted to gain more understanding about her initiative, the ‘circle’ and what made her take a stand.
In May 2017, TJ and I graduated from Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies Corporate and Organizational Communications program. TJ is from Thailand, me from China. I was curious to hear more about how the Lean In Circle worked and her plan for the future. In fact, the three co-founders of the Lean In Circle are all international students. Each had a hard time when they first came to the U.S. “I was very excited to come here, but after I had come, I realized that I was far away from home, my culture, my friends, and everything I used to have. I felt lonely, helpless and confused,” TJ shared.
TJ had been living in the U.S. for four years. She was very familiar with American culture and has many nice friends around her. From the interactions with other international students, there was a realization that international female students may meet many challenges and it would be great if there could be an open space for them to share and grow together. The founders decided to help the people who were also suffering from loneliness and helpless feelings. TJ recalled, “When Zirui (Linda) mentioned starting the Lean In To Grow Circle, I wanted to be a part of it immediately. Organizing my own event is another accomplishment that I really want to achieve.” TJ loved how Sheryl Sandberg encouraged women in her book, “It is time to cheer on girls and women who want to sit at the table (Sandberg, S., 2013, p.202).”
“We would like to create the spiritual support among peers to encourage and help each other,” TJ told me during the interview. The book Lean In was trying to encourage women to lead in their own lives. The Lean In Circle welcomes female students to communicate with each other, get inspired and grow personally and professionally, with a focus on the international population. According to TJ, “In this circle, people will build their self-confidence and raise awareness about their personal and professional advancement. We hope the group will provide the opportunity for sharing dilemmas and solutions together. It happened just as Sandberg’s quote advocates.
Lean In Circle has launched four events since January 2017. These events, organized monthly, invite guest speakers to share their own stories and difficulties. The guest speakers include alumni, current students, and one of our professors from Northeastern University. The co-founders also believe that the support from peers will be more practical and helpful for their audience. The Lean In Circle is also a perfect platform for young international female professionals to communicate and share their experience. The next sessions will start in Fall 2017. TJ said, “ If we never try, we never know.”
With TJ and Dasom now being alumni and returning to their home country, Zirui (Linda) will take charge to manage and organize the events. Prior to TJ’s return to Thailand, she offered, “Lean In To Grow started from nowhere. Right now we have a clear destination. We hope that new people will absolutely build up this circle to grow it stronger. All new ideas and criticisms will be considered. Furthermore, we are still looking for more volunteers to be part of our team. We just created the social media channel, and we intend to expand more channels to be connected with others. So, we need more people who are interested in being involved.” Feel free to check out our Facebook page, if interested.
Linda will keep working on their dreams in Boston, and TJ will continue her dreams in Thailand. The Lean In Circle will never be dismissed by distance because the fear of the unknown is now gone. Lean In wants everyone who has the same dream to join this circle, to listen, to share, to speak up and to move forward. It is never too late to make a dream come true.
Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean in: Women, work, and the will to lead. Random House.
Posted by Meihaba Simayi CPS’17
91 Corporate and Organizational Communication graduates were recognized at the College of Professional Studies graduation ceremony on May 12th.
The ceremony was held at Matthews Arena on campus with all the requisite pomp and circumstance. I’m always inspired by the sense of achievement exhibited by the graduates — and the enthusiastic pride of their families and friends in the stands.
Our global network of alumni continues to expand, and in an upcoming post my colleague Patty Goodman will share her experiences at recent Northeastern alumni events in Singapre and Beijing.
Posted by Carl Zangerl, Ph.D., Faculty
During my studies in the Corporate and Organizational Communication master’s program, I had the pleasure to meet Kathleen Anderson. A young, inspiring woman from Edinburgh who came to the States to pursue her graduate degree. In 2016, she returned to Edinburgh not only with her degree, but also with a book. A book she wrote herself. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask her all about it and was more than excited when she agreed to have a spontaneous chat with me about her journey.
First of all, congratulations on your book launch! This is awesome. Tell us, how did it all start?
Thank you, it’s been a crazy few months. This whole project started when I submitted my capstone project for my Masters in Corporate and Organizational communications in April 2016. Never did I think it would take me on this adventure.
I chose to research a fitness organization called November Project which I had been a part of during my time in Boston. The morning before I found out my course grade, I was at a November Project workout; other members had remembered I was submitting it on the Friday and spent the morning congratulating me and giving me big hugs. Many of them, of course, had remembered as they had been involved in my research through interviews and surveys. I was incredibly passionate about the organization which I think showed in my work. I spoke to my professor, Carl Zangerl, and we both thought I could do something with this, and it could be so much more than just a thesis.
At what point did you decide that you want to make a book out of your capstone thesis?
Carl put me in touch with Patty Goodman, another faculty member, who was extremely passionate about the idea of turning my capstone project into a short book. We discussed everything from academic publication to an e-book. We even looked into how I could incorporate my blog about living in the United States. Patty and Carl’s excitement and encouragement made me realize that this could be a possibility. I could write a book!
I know from past experience that a professor in the UK would never encourage a masters student to write a book, but in the United States I believe they all have a little more positivity. I left the meeting with Patty almost in a state of shock, as I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I called my dad and said “I think I’m going to write a book.”
How did you ultimately turn your thesis into a book?
At the point I decided I was going to go for it and try to write a book, I only had five weeks left living in the States. Those five weeks were full of traveling, but the good thing about traveling is you have a lot of time on planes and in airports, which for me is a great opportunity to write.
The first step was to edit my capstone project to give it a more conversational tone. Then I decided to add in a few blog pieces I had written to give my personal story of how free fitness changed my life. Through this process, a chapter structure organically appeared. It evolved into what I now call ‘Sweaty Hugs’, an amalgamation of my thesis, further interviews, and my personal story of living in the United States as a Brit. It tackles everything from mental health to community building, homesickness to achieving your goals, using the November Project fitness movement as a case study. Once I had the first draft I had to find an editor who was willing to take me on, which was a lot easier than I expected. From there it was editing, editing, and more editing. One of the best things I did was research. Taking time to speak to other authors gave me a realistic viewpoint of how this project could go and how much time I would have to dedicate. Then in February 2017, exactly ten months after my meeting with Carl and Patty, my book was published.
Is it true that you gave up your job recently to promote your book full-time?
I did! It was a scary leap to take, but a necessary one. Promoting a book takes a lot of time, effort, and most importantly passion to be a success. Therefore, I made the decision to take a leap of faith and dedicate the next six months to this project. Before I left my job, I had already started scheduling, networking and spreading the word of Sweaty Hugs. But I knew that was only the beginning.
I didn’t know if it was going to be the right thing to do, and I knew that if I didn’t give it a go I would always regret it. But so far it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
How are you promoting your book and in which countries is the a book available?
I do not have a publishing agent; therefore, I am doing everything myself – social media, events, website, promotional materials, networking, everything!
Currently Sweaty Hugs is only available in the UK, but over the next month we should be available in Europe, US and Canada. I hope to be over in the United States promoting the book in autumn 2017.
In the meantime, I have a great six month schedule of events across the UK, everything from fitness expos to book festivals, TEDx speaker appearances to bootcamp events.
One of the best partnerships that has happened is between Sweaty Hugs and Lululemon. They are hosting our events across the UK and the United States later this year. Having the support of a prestigious brand like Lululemon has been unbelievable as it has given Sweaty Hugs credibility in the fitness world and a much larger online reach. I couldn’t be more grateful for their support.
What’s your best advice for somebody who wants to write a book?
Stop! – Deciding the time to stop editing and finalize your manuscript is very difficult. You have to be strict with yourself, when you say stop, really stop. I learned this the hard way and it set the whole project back by a month. So step away from the manuscript when you are finished because there will come a point where you can do more and shouldn’t do anymore.
Don’t be too harsh on yourself – it is so easy when you are writing on your own to be hard on yourself. You need to keep momentum up and be positive. At times I would forget why I was doing this and think of giving up but luckily I didn’t. Taking time away from the manuscript helped, particularly as my book has a lot of humor in it. I started to think it wasn’t funny anymore but actually I had just read it too many times.
And remember you’re never going to be able to please everyone with what your writing. I was listening to the Tim Ferris podcast the other day when he said “I don’t know the sure path to success, but the sure path to failure is trying to please everyone.” Keep that in mind when you are having one of those days.
To find out more about Sweaty Hugs, check out the website: https://www.sweatyhugsthebook.com/
Posted by Bianca Gasser CPS ’16
Last spring, CPS sent out a survey to all alumni to determine how graduates felt about their educational experience. The response rate for graduate students was 12.9% — a decent rate of return with higher percentages of 2014 and 2015 graduates. Overall, the results were positive. 83% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their CPS degree was a worthwhile investment.
The net promoter score (NPS) results were especially interesting. Here’s the methodology. The basic NPS question is: On a scale of 1 (not likely at all) to 10 (extremely likely), how likely are you to refer “X” to a family member, friend, orcolleague? Survey respondents with a 9 or 10 are categorized as PROMOTERS, and are most likely to demonstrate “value‐creating” behaviors, such as making more positive referrals. Those responding with a 7 or 8 are categorized as PASSIVES, and are somewhat likely to demonstrate value‐creating behaviors. Those responding with a 1‐6 are categorized as DETRACTORS, and are least likely to demonstrate value‐creating behaviors.
The classic NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of of promoters.
So how did Corporate and Organizational Communication do?
Our program had an NPS of 51%, compared with 29% for the average CPS program, and ranked in the top two master’s programs overall. By way of benchmarking, Harvard Business School’s NPS was 41% (Source: NPS Benchmarks).
So this is definitely a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for the program – a concept you all remember from CMN 6910, Organizational Communication Assessment. Based on this data, we hope you’ll refer friends and colleagues to the program.
Posted by Carl Zangerl, Ph.D., Faculty
Women have outnumbered men at the polls in every presidential election since 1964. Nicole Wild Merl, a recent graduate of Northeastern’s Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication program, wants to ensure the trend continues.
Wild Merl created the first virtual co-op within the Northeastern University College of Professional Studies to launch WomenVotes.org, a social platform focused on empowering women to share their voice and vote in the 2016 presidential election.
“I’m an advocate for women and passionate about civic engagement,” says Wild Merl, who knew her mentor, Thomas Cook, felt the same way. “I asked him, ‘If we can get approval to do a co-op around creating this platform, would you sponsor it?’ He was in the middle of doing an IPO but still said, ‘Yes, of course.’”
Read the entire article by Lauren Landry, digital content manager for Enrollment, Student Life, and the Global Network at Northeastern University.
Posted by Carl Zangerl, Ph.D., Faculty