Every time I tell people I’m a communication studies major, they ask me what that means. The truth is, I think it could mean a million different things, and that’s what I love about it. In my four quarters at Northwestern, my communications classes have ranged from Public Speaking, to the Rhetoric of Popular Culture, to Theories of Persuasion, to Global Media and Motherhood. However,  I am currently taking one of my favorite comm studies classes so far.

On my first day of Nonprofit Communication Management, I knew it was going to be a unique experience. I had already been interested in the subject, thinking the class would help me decide whether I wanted to pursue a career in nonprofit communications. However, the first thing that my professor said to the class was that we had no set schedule yet. She wanted to know what we wanted to learn. Right when I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into, she threw another surprise at us. For the class, each student was to join one of four client groups, each client being a different nonprofit in the Chicagoland area that had varying needs. For the next week of class, we had short presentations from each client talking about their organization’s mission and needs. We then met with the representative for our group and established a scope of work and other details. I was so impressed not only with the opportunity we had for a real world experience, but also with the level of professionalism and trust involved in the process.

The remainder of the class has been spent partially in project groups, and partially discussing readings and doing practice activities related to the topics we chose. Because my project was marketing for a fundraising event, my group suggested we have certain classes devoted to marketing. It has been amazing being able to almost immediately apply what I’ve learned in class to ultimately helping others. Even more than that, each class has been interesting and fun, making it such a rewarding experience.

This past weekend, I attended the annual stair climb that I had worked on with PEER Services, an Evanston nonprofit that supports drug addiction recovery. Seeing all of the people at the event reminded me how lucky I was to have an impact through one of my classes and see that impact first hand. I realized then that no matter how confusing a major in communications may seem, it’s exactly where I need to be.

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