This page is dedicated to the stories of our communication alumni. Many people ask, “What can you do with a COMM degree?” Because, “What can’t you do with a COMM degree,” is not a satisfying answer, we developed this page to showcase what our alumni are doing now.
This week, we feature Mary Pearson
Mary Pearson attended Truman 2013-2017 and graduated with a degree in Communication and a minor in History. Originally from St. Louis, Mary moved to Orlando, Fla., immediately after college and has been living there since. She is currently working for Morgan & Morgan, a personal injury law firm in downtown Orlando, and she loves the constantly warm weather there.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in May 2017 with a concentration in Communication Studies.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
No, I jumped into the work world right after graduation. My career has continued to grow, so I haven’t thought about grad school.
What was your first job after graduation?
My very first job immediately after graduating was with Walt Disney World, which helped me relocate to Orlando. My first “real” job however was working as a Recruiter for government contracts, specifically Customs and Border Protection. I hired Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, as well as Medical and Nursing Assistants for CBP.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I’m currently as a Recruitment Lead working for a law firm, Morgan & Morgan, doing in-house interviewing and hiring for Case Staff and some Attorney roles. When I first started, it was a brand new department, and we have since grown immensely, which has been very exciting to be a part of. I have been here about 2½ years. I go through resumes, interview candidates, try to connect them with hiring attorneys, partner closely with our HR managers, help train new team members, etc. Ultimately, I try to get someone to their next career path. I get to work with and hire for some very amazing people, and while it can be a lot of work, it is very rewarding (bonus points: I get paid to talk to people all day).
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
I really enjoyed the range a liberal arts education provided. You really get to dive in to so many different aspects pertaining to your degree. For example, with COMM, there were classes covering law, theory, journalism, statistics, mass media, history, etc. You get to dabble in a little bit of everything and figure out what niche may suit you best. I really appreciated having exposure to all of those areas.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
I genuinely enjoyed all my COMM classes. I wouldn’t say I disliked it, but it wasn’t necessarily my favorite; Organizational Communication. At the time it didn’t hold much interest to me. After school though once I started working with different companies and navigating those different working environments, I had a better appreciation for it.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
Graduating…it seems silly, but it was a big deal. I changed my major A LOT. I knew I wanted to graduate on time (in 4 years). I switched to COMM my junior year. My last 4 semesters were straight COMM classes, and I really loved it. I really did get the crash course on all things COMM and did well overall. Also, finding a major after jumping around so much that I could finally enjoy helped also.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Because Truman is a smaller school, students have better access to their professors and resources, which in the long run will set them up for academic success. You’re not just a number in a lecture hall, but a student where your professor will know who you are, how you learn, and will take the time to really work with you as needed.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Listen to your peers and your teachers, you will learn so much! I wasn’t much of a talker in my classes (people who know me now would probably be shocked to hear that!), but I still enjoyed the open conversation among my peers when discussing class topics. Also, take as many electives as you can in the COMM department. There are a lot of gems in those classes. I wish I could have taken more. Some of the elective courses I took ended up being some my favorite classes.
Lastly, enjoy your time there while you can. It goes by so fast!
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
There will be some wins and there will be some losses. Don’t let the losses overshadow the wins. Things will fluctuate, you’ll have your off days, but you can’t let it carry over into the good days and keep you down. Shake it off and keep pushing through. Things always have a weird way of working themselves out in the end.
Practice is key in talent acquisition. When first getting started (either in the field or with a specific company), try to interview anyone and everyone you can to find your flow and style. Once you figure out your foundation, it makes the conversations with people feel much more natural and you can really focus on the interview.
Lastly, and this is something I’m still working on myself, do not taking things to heart if it ends up not working out with someone being hired. At the end of the day, people have to decide what’s best for them, especially when interviewing for their next job. It’s not always a personal decision against you or the company you’re hiring for.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
Laying out on the quad when the weather was nice, especially that first warm day after the winter months. Chicken bowl day in the dining halls – if you know, you know.
Sometimes I do overall miss being a student where my job was to sit in a classroom and learn (except for finals, I don’t miss that).
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
While there are career services, I think it’d be beneficial to teach a class around interviewing and resume building. We could cover things like how to talk on the phone or how to craft a proper email to a potential employer. When you’re brand new out of school, it can be a little intimidating, but the more it’s practiced, the easier it becomes.
If you would like to learn more of Mary’s story, you can follow her on LinkedIn.
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