Tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Reena Arora, class of 2010, launched a career in broadcast journalism out of college. Fortunate enough to land top positions right out of undergrad, Reena experienced success quickly in the television field. By 2007, however, she was looking for a career change, and decided to pursue an advanced degree to expand her career in the communication field. She enrolled in the master’s in Communication program at Queens and has since made a successful transition into corporate communication.
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We asked Reena to tell us more about her learning experience as a graduate student at Queens and how the program has helped her in her new career.
Why did you choose Queens? Why is it unique?
When I researched Queens, I felt an immediate connection to the MA in Communication curriculum. I was very excited about the combination of theory and practice that Queens offered. I felt it could really enhance my understanding of organizational and strategic communication, thus giving me the tools I needed to step into the next phase of my career.
How have you applied what you’ve learned in the program directly to your current job role/responsibility?
Seven years after starting the master’s in Communication and four years after graduating, I still reference lessons I learned in the program on a daily basis – regardless of what role I’ve held since then. As a senior communication consultant on the Corporate Communication team at LPL Financial, I am responsible for creating and executing communication plans for employee-related initiatives across our site locations. That includes everything from writing announcements on behalf of senior leaders to developing editorial content for our robust intranet. Because the Communication faculty focused on both theory and practice throughout the program, I am not only more cognizant of the importance of interpersonal communication in the workplace, but I can also successfully develop messages that best suit employees’ (and my company’s) needs.
What are the benefits of the MA in Communication program at Queens?
The benefits of the MA in Communication at Queens are innumerable. If I had to narrow it down to just a few, I would say the class sizes, the attentiveness of the faculty, the rapport you build with other students, and the material within the curriculum. I never had a class with more than 20 students, which made me feel like I could get the attention I needed from my professors and was fantastic for developing a stronger bond with my classmates. I learned so much from their experiences that I considered that part of the program as well. The material was also incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. I felt the faculty did a great job of putting together curricula that focused on both academic and emotional intelligence.
How did the Knight School faculty support you and ensure your set up for success?
The Knight School faculty made it their priority to ensure that my classmates and I were successful in the MA in Communication program. We were challenged every day by engaging material on topics like communication theory, gender studies, and group dynamics. All of us students were in different stages of life; some had been out of school for just a couple of years, while others hadn’t set foot in a classroom in decades. Our professors recognized that and did an excellent job of guiding us through complex concepts as a group while encouraging us to think independently and learn from one another. (The small class sizes allowed for lots of discussion and feedback among us, which was never dull.) Nearly all of my professors had significant professional experience as well; some even worked full-time in a communications role during the day, then taught our classes at night. Their industry insight was extremely valuable, and the lessons we learned about current communication practices in a myriad of situations were relevant and interesting. For that, I cannot endorse the faculty enough!
How has the MA in Communication program made you a better communicator and impacted your life as a whole?
I would not trade my experience in the MA in Communication program at Queens for anything. I enrolled expecting to become a stronger communicator in the professional sense, but there was a much larger experience in store for me – a much more holistic experience. Of course I learned effective communication techniques so I could advance in my career. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would grow and evolve as a person. Every article I read about organizational culture or interpersonal dialogue was relevant to my life at work and at home. I started questioning my views of others and whether I was showing enough empathy toward people in certain situations, especially in the office. Overall, I believe the Communication program at Queens made me a stronger communicator by molding me into a more empathetic human being.
Tell us about your capstone project and how it enabled you to apply what you learned in the program to a real-life challenge.
On a high level, my Communication master’s capstone project explored the influence of video messages among millennial audiences. One year into the master’s program, I was hired by the marketing department at Queens, and most of my projects revolved around communicating with prospective and current undergraduate students. I was in the midst of pioneering a social media program for the university, and I wanted to get a better understanding of the role videos could play in that strategy. YouTube was growing in popularity (especially after Google purchased it), and I wanted to find out how it was influencing millennial behaviors so Queens could capitalize on that research. What I learned about attention spans, successful production tactics, and YouTube’s influence on the 17-24-year-old audience was invaluable to my work. As a result, I was able to develop a much stronger video communication plan and create a dynamic presence for Queens on YouTube.