Ed Rabinowitz, a 1995 MCIS graduate, discusses his experiences in the MCIS program with enthusiasm, referencing the well-rounded curriculum and flexible course schedule as attractive components. “Even before I applied to the program, I had a good feeling. I was working full-time, so I needed a program that would fit into my lifestyle. The MCIS program did just that.” Ed also mentions an added bonus of the program, that of networking. Contacts he made while in the program are still active today.
Along with completing the program part-time while working full-time, Ed taught in an adjunct capacity on the college level. Simultaneously, Ed’s full-time employer experienced a merger as he graduated from the MCIS program. Having the MCIS degree in hand allowed Ed to eventually move into a full-time teaching position.
Currently, Ed is an Assistant Professor at Lehigh Carbon Community College, and credits the MCIS curriculum as helping to equip him to teach on the college level. “The MCIS program faculty are hands-on, out in the real world professors who emphasize the application of concepts. They provided me with skills and insights that I could use in that capacity. My MCIS education is a contributing factor to my current career success, which includes college-level teaching and freelancing.”
When Suzy was an undergraduate studying Communication, English, and Middle Eastern Studies, she was presented with the opportunity to take MCIS courses, getting a head start on her graduate degree. “I felt that it was an exciting and rare opportunity, so I started taking courses right away.” Soon after, she began her fellowship through Johnson & Johnson.
As a result of being a Johnson & Johnson fellow, Suzy realized her true passion, teaching. “The Johnson & Johnson fellowship is a wonderful opportunity, in that fellows learn so much about their strengths, weaknesses, and talents. I learned that I needed contact with other people so that I could share my passion for the field of Communication. With the guidance and support of Rutgers’ faculty, I began teaching. I knew right away that teaching was my passion.” Subsequently, Suzy taught at both Rutgers University and Devry University, where she is a currently a visiting faculty member.
Suzy’s passion for communication has led her to writing, speaking, and most recently, starting a community outreach resource, the Center for Muslim Life (CML). Suzy is an accomplished author, recently publishing her fourth book which explores modern Muslim marriage. “I have been asked to speak at conferences, events, and universities, such as Harvard and Princeton, which really helps me put communication concepts in action.” Suzy remarks that the Center she helped found allows her to combine her love of communication and community outreach. One of the center’s missions is to focus on strengthening Muslim families by educating community members on the interpersonal elements of building a strong marriage. Along with teaching at the university and at a local high school, Suzy also oversees curriculum development and is the lead instructor at CML.
In addition to being a visiting professor, high school teacher, speaker, and author, Suzy is also a mother to three children. “I love everything I do in life, and if you love what you do, you never feel like you are overextending yourself.”
After graduating from George Washington University, Andrew was looking for a graduate program that combined academic and real-life work experiences. The combination of the MCIS coursework with the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship was a perfect fit.
When discussing the MCIS program, Andrew mentions three components that standout from his experience: small class size, a diverse student body that provides a variety of perspectives on issues discussed in the classroom, and a flexible program that every student can develop into a meaningful MCIS degree and experience. The Johnson & Johnson Fellowship provided Andrew with hands-on training completing high-level projects, such as the 2011 Annual Report, media relations responsibilities, and supply chain communications, which allowed Andrew to develop professionally. “The coursework and fellowship complemented each other very nicely,” Andrew states.
Currently, Andrew is a Public Relations Specialist for Rutgers University’s Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers). “I manage the public relations and marketing efforts in order to ensure that our messages are reaching the intended audience.” The MCIS curriculum and the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship helped Andrew tackle some new tasks in his current position, including developing the social media capabilities of the Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs. “Through my MCIS coursework I gained a deeper understanding of social media, and at Johnson & Johnson I was able to put that theory into practice while being a valued member of a team. Now I am putting that knowledge and experience into practice at my current job.”
Andrew is happy to still be in the Rutgers’ environment, mentioning that “the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship was the highlight of my experience in the MCIS program. Without question, I apply daily what I learned at Johnson & Johnson to the responsibilities of my current position.”
As a 1987 Rutgers University Communication graduate, it was not surprising that Donna got the RU graduate degree “bug” when making a return trip to New Brunswick. “I felt inspired by the environment to attend graduate school. I spoke with then Administrative Assistant Angela DiMartini, and she was so helpful and supportive. Shortly thereafter, I started classes for the then new MCIS program.”
Donna describes her experience in the MCIS program as influential, due in no small part to the small class size. A desirable faculty to student ratio resulted in camaraderie between faculty and students, and Donna still experiences this connection with former classmates today. “I made life long friends in the MCIS program, and those friendships have at times resulted in networking opportunities.” Donna also mentions the coursework as being integral to her professional goals. “I entered the program with an interest in Public Relations and Organizational Communication. My coursework was essential in providing the groundwork for my current profession.”
Immediately after graduating with her MCIS degree, Donna was promoted to leadership positions within her company, since her organization was merging with another. “Due to my MCIS training in crisis communication, change management, and web development, they viewed me as an asset in dealing with the merge and change process, the business redesign, and the assimilation of cultures.”
Donna currently owns a communication consulting company, which allows her to balance work with family life. Donna’s company provides consulting to various types of companies, including healthcare, environmental, and civil engineering agencies, while specializing in strategic communication. “I am able to analyze audiences and organizational dynamics in order to tailor messages effectively. That skill I owe to my MCIS training.”
After moving to New Jersey from Washington State, Julie was looking for a graduate program that offered a degree in Communication Studies taught by faculty experts in the field. Of particular interest to Julie was the ability to be part of on-going research projects as well as conducting her own research. “Rutgers and Rutgers MCIS fit the bill for both!,” Julie says enthusiastically.
Julie cites several aspects of the program as unique, including the small class sizes, getting to know the professors personally, and completing a capstone project prior to graduating. “Completing a capstone under the supervision of Dr. Doerfel was an amazing and influential experience. It prepared me to think critically and encouraged an ability to analyze and interpret data regarding communication.”
Julie continues, “What I love most about the MCIS program is that I was able to tailor the program to fit my interests. I didn’t necessarily want to focus on media or health communication. I wanted to focus on organizational communication. The MCIS program allowed me to create and tailor my own experience, once completing the required courses. While some of my colleagues were able to put more emphasis in Corporate Social Responsibility or Interpersonal Communication, I got to spend more time learning about organizational change, organizational stakeholders, and organizational communication. As a result, we were each able to form our own path.”
Julie mentions that needing to work full-time while attending grad school seemed like a daunting task at the start. However, she met supportive friends and encouraging faculty who assisted her with meeting the demands of full-time work and school. “Due to the flexibility of the MCIS program, I was also able to take evening classes, a few online classes, and a few hybrid classes to accommodate my intense schedule.” Julie also mentions that the social aspect of a graduate program is important, and found this through the socials, happy hours, and coffee breaks offered through the program.
Currently, Julie is Event Promotion Manager with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. She acts as the liaison between departments and stakeholders, creating a structured communication process flow for the execution of events from initial idea to marketing strategies to execution and evaluation. “I love my job, and I feel that my MCIS degree provided me with the training to work in organizations developing new programs, implementing organizational change, and looking at organizational communication from a big picture perspective. MCIS provided a great structure to not only learn communication theories, but also apply them to case studies and real life situations.”
Upon graduating with his BA in 2008 from Rutgers University, Jon knew the MCIS program was a perfect fit for his graduate studies, so much so that he did not explore any other options for graduate school. “I was able to continue playing baseball while earning my graduate degree. I knew it would be as rewarding as my undergraduate experience.”
Jon recalls the commitment of faculty and students to each other as one of the most beneficial aspects of the program. “The small class sizes allowed for us to engage one another. There was also a wide range of people in the program from different backgrounds and varied professional worlds, so that made for interesting debates and discussions.”
Currently, Jon is an Assistant Sports Information Director at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Jon feels that his MCIS studies gave him a “leg up” on other applicants, and he believes that completing the program gave him the confidence to tackle any task assigned.
“I can honestly say that the MCIS program brought out a hunger for more reading and the pursuit of knowledge after graduation. I’m grateful that it did.”
John Juchniewicz, a 1995 MCIS graduate, first heard about the MCIS program when he was an undergraduate in the Rutgers Communication Department. “The MCIS program offers you both theory and the application of theory. This combination was very attractive to me. I also appreciated the diverse student backgrounds—some students, like me, came directly from undergrad; others were working professionals. This combination of perspectives created a dynamic learning environment.”
Currently, John serves as President of the American Academy of CME, which is a not-for-profit educational foundation focused on providing high-quality, certified, educational activities to healthcare professionals. The Academy (alone or in partnership with other organizations) identifies gaps in healthcare practice among physicians, pharmacists, nurses, registered dietitians, and other groups. Once a gap is identified, continuing education activities are developed to address the gap. These activities employ various live, print and online instructional methodologies, and are followed by robust outcomes analysis.
John credits his experience as a Johnson & Johnson Fellow with providing him real-world professional experience while obtaining his graduate degree. “The Johnson & Johnson Fellowship offers an opportunity to develop practical skills, and serves as a professional credit on your resume and CV long after your fellowship has ended. As a Fellow, you are not an intern. Rather, you are treated as part of the Johnson & Johnson Communications Department and you are given assignments to work on independently that support the department’s goals. While executing your assignments, you are mentored and receive guidance from some of the best communication professionals in the business. Before I graduated from the MCIS program, I had professional experience working for a Fortune 50 company. This gave me a huge head start when looking for employment.”
John refers to the MCIS degree as a “flexible” one, in that you can apply what you learn in the program to various environments. This makes it valuable to both young professionals as well as those looking to excel in new positions in the global work environment. “The skills learned and knowledge gained in the MCIS program and through the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship program are extremely useful in today’s changing world. No matter what your career path may be, you need to understand communication theory and how to apply it. That’s exactly what I took away from the MCIS program.“
When Dionne discovered the MCIS program at Rutgers University while searching on Google, she knew the program would be a fit. “At the time,” she explained, “I was unhappy in an MBA program. I had completed my undergraduate degree in Communication and had extensive work experience in the area of corporate communication. I had always been interested in understanding the role of technology in communication, and how much mediated communication changed the way humans interacted with each other. And the fact that the MCIS degree could be coupled with the Johnson & Johnson fellowship experience was unique and attractive.”
Dionne found two MCIS curriculum components to be very rare and valuable. The first was the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) class, where she studied the role of internal and external communication in developing strategic CSR strategies, and she eventually focused her capstone project on CSR. Secondly, Dionne found the Organizational Communication class to be particularly valuable. This was particularly relevant for Dionne, as she was a Johnson & Johnson fellow in the Strategic Organizational Communication unit of the Corporate Communication department. As a Johnson & Johnson fellow, she worked on a variety of internal communications projects, and also helped maintain the organization’s intranet. She had previous experience in external communications, so the experiences at Johnson & Johnson worked well to prepare her for her current position.
Currently, Dionne works as a Communications Specialist at Optimized Systems and Solutions, a wholly owned subsidary of Rolls-Royce, where she manages the internal communications within her company. Specifically, Dionne is responsible for designing, implementing and monitoring the company’s internal communications strategy for 350-400 employees in the United States and the United Kingdom, ensuring that messaging is consistent and aligned with the company’s vision, mission, and values. Dionne also manages the employee intranet, and provides support for HR-initiated employee engagement efforts. Dionne also manages and coordinates employee events, including global employee engagement surveys, virtual company-wide team briefings, and live leadership conferences.
Dionne encourages applicants to be clear about their career goals when entering the program. The program has a “theory-driven component,” so she suggests supplementing classroom experiences with a practical aspect, such as the Johnson & Johnson fellowship, or employment-related experience.“With the combination of theory and practice that the MCIS program provides, it has encouraged students to explore many different career paths, well equipped for the tasks and challenges presented to communication professionals.”
Since Crystal experienced SC&I as an undergraduate studying journalism and media studies, she knew the opportunity to complete her MCIS degree through SC&I would be a beneficial one. “After I completed my bachelor’s degree, I entered the work force for one year. When I was ready to work on my master’s degree, I know that the MCIS program would be a good fit.”
Crystal obtained her MCIS degree while working full-time, and credits the evening course offerings as making this possible. “The most unique aspects of the MCIS program are its’ practicality and functionality. Every course contained content that was applicable to my job and the real world. Each professor did a good job of applying what we discussed in class to how it applies to real-world settings.”
Crystal acknowledges the challenges that working full-time and attending graduate school can present, but was also able to experience the benefits. “My capstone project, which started in my Organizational Communication class, involved my restructuring our intern program at my current place of employment. I learned a great deal about the importance of employees’ socialization practices, and the value of investing in such practices so that the organization can experience long-term benefits.”
As a public relations specialist for Mint Advertising in Branchburg, New Jersey, Crystal spends a good deal of time locating media opportunities for clients, writing, and ensuring that the tone of communication for her clients is appropriate and standardized. She also is responsible for Mint’s presence in the social media world, along with her clients’. Crystal still experiences the benefits that her expertise as a result of the MCIS program brought her. “Often my boss asks for my assistance on a project where the socialization of new employees is essential, particularly during a merger where two groups need to assimilate effectively. My MCIS degree provided me with the ability to pinpoint communication breakdowns and provide tangible ways to resolve the existing problems. I truly credit the MCIS program for making me a better public relations professional.”
As a digital media specialist for Chamberlain Heathcare Public Relations, Steven needed to have an understanding of the role of social media in the highly regulated field of pharmaceutical companies. The MCIS program coupled with the Johnson & Johnson fellowship program did just that.
“I was in China, and Professor James Katz gave a lecture. Meeting and speaking with Professor Katz was influential, as it led me to Rutgers for the MCIS program and the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship experience, which gave me exposure to the healthcare industry. I was then able to use the knowledge I acquired to be successful in my current position, which requires that I have the ability to manage social media within the healthcare realm.”
Steven credits the Johnson & Johnson fellowship experience as preparing him for his current daily responsibilities, such as social media strategy planning for clients, issue management, and account management. “The Director of Corporate Communication, Marc Monseau, is influential in the field of social media strategy, and was my mentor while at Johnson & Johnson. Soon I was managing their Facebook page and completing social media monitoring reports.”
“The MCIS program and Johnson & Johnson fellowship experience were very rewarding, and the exposure to the healthcare field allowed me to gain skills that contributed to my current success in healthcare social media. The knowledge I acquired through the MCIS program and the skills I learned at Johnson & Johnson were essential in my obtaining and excelling in my current position.”
Having previously worked in India in various advertising and public relations agencies, Vinita Abraham acquired foundational knowledge regarding branding, brand identity, and the importance of market research. After hearing about Rutgers University through a family member and subsequent on-line research, it became clear that the education provided through the MCIS program would allow Vinita to focus on organizational and other areas such as nonprofit and health communication.
“I noted the variety of courses that I could choose from and specialize in throughout my time in the program. In turn, I was able to combine my interest in organizational communication and research methods, which made me a more attractive candidate to potential employers.”
Currently, Vinita is a Communication Specialist at Linde North America, which is a part of the Linde Group based in Germany. Vinita credits her MCIS experience with contributing to her becoming more informed regarding communication theories and the connection to workplace practices. In addition, the emphasis placed on research throughout the MCIS program gave her an additional edge in the workplace when she presents findings to the leadership team. “The MCIS experience was challenging, stimulating, and varied, in the sense that it was constantly being made applicable to the corporate environment.”
MCIS and Ph.D. Alumna—Recipient of the W. Charles Redding Award for the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year from the Organizational Communication Division of the International Communication Association
When Lisa Chewning was thinking of attending graduate school, she knew she would not have to look far in order to find a quality university. “I was a Rutgers College alum, so Rutgers was the first place I looked. The MCIS program sounded interesting and academically strong, so I applied and was accepted. Once I was halfway through my Master’s degree, I realized that I wanted to stay and get my Ph.D. Because of my experience in the MCIS program, I really wanted to stay at SC&I. So I am a very unique graduate in that all three of my degrees are from Rutgers University.”
Lisa feels that the MCIS program “is a program that can appeal to both professionals who want to further their careers, as well as students who are interested in theory and possibly interested in pursuing a Ph.D. The program is an excellent mix of the theoretical and applied. Additionally, the overall positive and collegial feeling engendered in the program made me feel like I belonged, was valued, and respected.”
This experience was increasingly positive during Lisa’s time in SC&I to obtain her doctorate. “The research and teaching opportunities offered to Ph.D students were excellent. I was able to work with top faculty, such as Dr. Marya Doerfel and Dr. Susan Morgan, on three different grant projects. I am not sure that I could have had such a rich experience anywhere else. I think it is precisely because of these experiences that I won the W. Charles Redding Award for the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year from the Organizational Communication division of the International Communication Association.”
Currently, Lisa is an Assistant Professor at Penn State University, Abington Campus. It is one of the PSU commonwealth campuses where she is a core faculty member for the Corporate Communication major. She is also responsible for making decisions about the direction of the major, serves on a variety of committees and the Faculty Senate, and advises students in the Corporate Communication major.
She credits SC&I wholeheartedly for her success in academia. “The program helped me to achieve my professional goals by giving me the opportunity to work with excellent and generous faculty in order to develop myself as a teacher and scholar. I believe that the research opportunities provided through my time at Rutgers made me stand out as a candidate.”
With a double major in Communication and History, Samantha Yakal-Kremski ideally wanted to blend her two interests into one career. She reached out to her SC&I professors to learn what a Masters in Communication and Information Studies (MCIS) entailed. Samantha was soon offered the Johnson & Johnson fellowship in Corporate Social Responsibility, which seemed like the perfect fit at the right time. “I was able to integrate myself into the Corporate Contributions team, apply what I learned from class and focus my capstone on corporate social responsibility,” Samantha said.
The experience of bridging her learning’s from class to her work at Johnson & Johnson was very rewarding for Samantha. Moreover, she believes that all MCIS students could see the positive impact Johnson & Johnson had on the program. “I loved how the MCIS program was so integrated in the academic and New Brunswick community and didn’t operate in a silo,” said Samantha. “For example, the knowledge management class was cross-listed with the library school and Johnson & Johnson had such a communal influence on the program by helping to secure speakers and provide real-world examples.”
The diverse courses and flexible scheduling were other advantages Samantha found in the MCIS program, in addition to the knowledgeable professors who are experts in their field. Now a Contributions Analyst at Centocor Ortho Biotech, a Johnson & Johnson company, working on the company’s volunteerism and philanthropic efforts, Samantha has advice for those interested in applying to the MCIS program: “Have your interests identified and know which professors can provide guidance as you pursue your capstone,” she said.
By Laura Schneebacher
BrieAnn Szatkowski, 2008 MCIS graduate
BrieAnn’s proactive and ambitious attitude helped her go far with the MCIS program. Currently Communication Specialist at Moody’s, BrieAnn attributes the MCIS program as a crucial element in getting her there. While working for one of Johnson & Johnson’s operating companies, BrieAnn had a supervisor who graduated from the MCIS program. Her supervisor spoke highly of the program and encouraged her to apply. BrieAnn reached out to Professor Aakhus, an MCIS professor, to learn more about the program. “My experience was great,” she said. “My professors’ doors were always open, they were always ready to give me advice and talk me through any obstacles I may have been facing.”
Prior to enrolling in the MCIS program, Melissa Waggenspack worked in book publishing and very much wanted a career change. By doing book publicity in the publishing industry, the projects Melissa worked on were campaign-oriented and communication driven. However, not only for her campaigns, Melissa looked at communication as more of a long-term strategy for herself as well. Obtaining a Masters degree from the Rutgers University’s MCIS program was Melissa’s one and only choice in advancing her professional and personal goals. “I was impressed with the professors I spoke with and very interested in the Johnson & Johnson Belgium Fellowship,” Melissa said. “I liked the selection of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and health communication courses offered in the MCIS program at Rutgers,” she continued.
Incorporating healthcare-related and CSR studies into a professional experience became a reality for Melissa once she landed the Johnson & Johnson CSR Fellowship in Belgium. “I worked very closely with Dr. Aakhus and my colleagues at Johnson & Johnson to apply what I was learning in my independent study to the business challenges that I encountered in my role as a communication fellow,” she said. The combination of the MCIS program with the fellowship was truly an invaluable experience for Melissa, since she had the advantage of working in CSR and focusing her capstone on it. “The program allowed me to have such an open-mind academically and professionally and allowed me to think about things differently by tailoring research to the professional world,” she said.
The experience Melissa had in the MCIS program has been personally, professionally and academically rewarding for her. It has helped her obtain a successful career change and move forward with the work she is most passionate about. Currently Melissa continues to do the work she loves, including updating the corporate website, and writing for the corporate blog, www.jnjbtw.com and annual reports with the Corporate Communications department at Johnson & Johnson.
“I encourage anyone to apply if they are interested in pursuing the fellowship. It was the most incredible experience,” she said. “It offered a unique opportunity to learn more about the cultural challenges and needs that exist when communicating internationally within a multi-national company.”
By Laura Schneebacher
As Chief of Communication for UNICEF in Myanmar, Zafrin feels that her experience in the MCIS program both contributed to her professional development, and provided her an advantage as an international communication professional working for the United Nations. In fact, Zafrin still has moments where she draws upon the knowledge gained from the MCIS program to analyze and evaluate real work-related situations.
In her current position, communication functions as a core component in advancing UNICEF’s mandate to globally help children survive, grow, live a healthy and safe life with dignity, and to assist in allowing them to fulfill their potential. Zafrin feels that what she learned while in the MCIS program enriches her evaluation of situations, since she is able to draw upon the theoretical and conceptual frameworks she learned in order to devise a solution to a variety of communication-related matters that need attention.
Zafrin, a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in 2003-2004, came in contact with the Department of Communication’s Dr. Kathryn Greene, who acted as her advisor as a Humphrey Fellow within the MCIS program. Dr. Greene was instrumental in Zafrin’s successfully completing the MCIS program in two semesters, about half as long as the traditional period of time. Zafrin feels that she found and chose the right combination of courses in MCIS suited to her needs. Her courses offered not only theoretical grounding, but also provided updated knowledge and practical skills in areas such as persuasion, negotiation, behavioral and social changes, international communication, media studies and new technology, organizational communication, and knowledge management. Experiencing the flexibility of the program, Zafrin was able to add a few of courses from outside the MCIS program in international development, and children’s and women’s studies.
Communication objectives in UNICEF encompass a wide range of levels, forms, and audiences, including working with grassroots communities, dealing with international media, remaining in contact with partners regarding fund raising and advocacy efforts, corporate communication, and even emergency communication related issues. With a team of 10 professional and support staff, Zafrin implements the communication activities that contribute to the achievement of UNICEF’s country program goals and objectives in Myanmar.
In order to achieve these objectives, Zafrin’s daily communication activities are multifaceted. The scope of the means and modes UNICEF uses is broad, such as various forms of written communication and reporting, graphics, folk and traditional media, street theater, audiovisual media, interpersonal communication, online communication, the internet, our website, music, and art. UNICEF also tries to engage children and young people and promote their participation through their work.
This can involve working with local and international media, in order to implement appropriate communication strategies and messages, such as effective persuasive communication, by adopting culturally appropriate means and communication channels for dissemination.
The range and breadth of courses in the MCIS program allowed Zafrin to feel better informed and equipped with new ideas when she returned to the workforce. Since MCIS students come from such diverse cultural, academic, and professional backgrounds, the class discussions were highly motivating. Also, the program offers a good range and mix of different aspects within the field of communication that really helps a student meet the demands of many different types of jobs.
As Kati was completing her undergraduate degree at The College of New Jersey as a math major with a minor in journalism, she knew she wanted to attend the MCIS program at Rutgers University. “Rutgers has a great reputation, and is a research-based school. It was a great fit for me.”
While in the MCIS program, Kati was also provided the opportunity of being a Johnson and Johnson fellow. “The fellowship experience was a wonderful complement to the coursework. I read and discussed the theories in the classroom, and the fellowship provided me the hands-on experience.”
For Kati, this was perfectly tailored to her interest, Corporate Social Responsibility. “My favorite courses were Corporate Social Responsibility, and the final Capstone project, which I tailored to my interest in Corporate Social Responsibility.”
Currently an account executive at the public relations firm Guttenberg PR, located in New York City, Kati feels that her fellowship experience helped her to land her current position, and feels that her degree assists her in performing efficiently at her job. “It demonstrated my ability to manage multiple activities, such as being in graduate school and working part-time.” Kati continues, “I use my MCIS degree on a daily basis in my job, since I write and do a large amount of research. My employer also tries to include me on projects specific to Corporate Social Responsibility.”
“If you have the opportunity to be a Johnson and Johnson fellow, the professional growth you experience coupled with the MCIS program will be incredible.”
When Jillian Lukach reflects on her experience in the MCIS program, she remembers it fondly.“It was a wonderful experience. I was surrounded by helpful staff, knowledgeable faculty, and interesting peers. It was a busy time, but a good time.”
Jillian started the MCIS program while employed full-time at Siemens Corporation. “The team I worked with was very supportive of my attending Rutgers for my MCIS degree. In fact, they allowed me to take a daytime class that met twice a week during a summer session in exchange for my working a longer day. Their support coupled with the flexibility of the MCIS program was a winning combination for me.”
As Director of Sales and Marketing Support within Siemens’ financial services division, Jillian handles various public relations, internal communication, and marketing efforts to promote the company’s energy finance offering. “My MCIS experience helped me to become a better general communicator. For instance, I can look at the entire organization and isolate specific functions that, if improved, could assist the entire organization in performing more efficiently.”
Jillian is quick to point out another benefit of the MCIS Program. “It provides exposure to various professionals within the field of communication. These individuals are extremely qualified in either the hands-on practical domain, or within the teaching and scholarship domain. The effect is a profoundly informative combination of practical applications to theoretically informed issues.”
Melissa’s experience as a Johnson & Johnson fellow and MCIS student confirmed her enthusiasm for learning, leading her to continue her studies at the PhD level at the University of California Santa Barbara.
While in the MCIS program, Melissa assisted Dr. Marya Doerfel in her post Hurricane Katrina research. This hands on research experience resulted in a new level of curiosity for Melissa who wanted to further explore research questions that could bring about new insights in the communication field while making a real world impact.
Working in the Corporate Contributions office at Johnson & Johnson while pursuing her MCIS, Melissa was further motivated by her department colleagues, most of whom held either a PhD or MD, to combine her passion for learning and giving back. Now at UCSB, Melissa’s research examines interorganizational interactions including issues related to corporate social responsibility and knowledge sharing.
Currently, Melissa is investigating interorganizational knowledge sharing among nongovernmental organizations in the development field, including the organizational and interpersonal networks that facilitate knowledge sharing among not for profit organizations, with a graduate student research grant awarded by the UCSB Institute for Social Behavioral and Economic Research.
As Director of Corporate Communication at Johnson & Johnson, Matthew Johnson reflects fondly on his experiences in the MCIS program and as a Johnson & Johnson Graduate Fellow. “As a former fellow, I cannot recall a better professional experience. I highly recommend that students take advantage of, and appreciate, the Johnson & Johnson fellowship experience through the MCIS program.”
As an undergraduate who had recently completed his bachelor’s degree,
Johnson was encouraged to apply to the MCIS program at Rutgers University. “I realized that the program had so many appealing attributes, namely the strength of the program, the quality of the faculty, a culturally diverse environment, and the Johnson & Johnson fellowship opportunity.”
Johnson, who now has responsibility for managing organizational communications across the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, thoroughly enjoyed his experience in both the MCIS program, and his experience as a Johnson & Johnson graduate fellow. “The MCIS program encouraged me to learn as much as possible from a theoretical perspective, and the Johnson & Johnson fellowship experience afforded me the opportunity to bring new ideas to the work environment that I had learned in class. This process accelerated my professional development, since I gained experience applying theories to a work environment early on in my career.”
Having been a fellow himself, Johnson knows how important it is to encourage current graduate fellows to utilize the Johnson & Johnson experience to the highest degree possible. “Being a fellow is such a rare opportunity. You learn from some of the smartest professionals in the field day in and day out.”
“Our fellows are not interns, but peers. The experience as a fellow accelerates the function that business plays in their development. They are here to learn how to become a well-rounded business partner, and encouraged to do so.”
The combination of the MCIS program and the Johnson & Johnson graduate fellowship experience was a win-win pairing for Johnson. “What I learned in the classroom I brought to my fellowship experience, and was encouraged to try out in the work environment. I was then able to report back to my classmates on the practical application of these concepts in the business environment.”
When Tim Pernetti walked into his very first class at the Masters of Communication and Information Studies (MCIS) program, Professor Todd Hunt did not treat him as a football player. “He treated me just as a young man who was pursuing his master degree as anybody else was in that class.” Tim said.
“That’s what I’m very thankful for from the MCIS Program,” said Tim, who went on to be the Executive Vice President of CBS College Sports Network and was recently named Rutgers Athletic Director.
Tim found himself quite fascinated with all things related to media even when he was still a high school student. He then chose Journalism as his undergraduate major at Rutgers University. As the tight end of the Rutgers Football Team, Tim did very well as a student athlete. However, he never lost his interests in media.
Tim went to the MCIS program right after he left the football team and had undergone a complete and successful metamorphosis from an experienced athlete to a fully engaged graduate student. Serving at Rutgers Football Team for 4 years had taught Tim how to balance his study and practice and the value of time. From his very first day in MCIS, Tim decided to make the most of this educational opportunity.
“This program had a very interesting setting. The whole environment was different,” said Tim, who graduated from MCIS in 1994. “We always had very casual conversations with our professors and all the classes were more driven by students than by professors.” The initiative that Tim had learned from MCIS assisted him in undergoing another significant metamorphosis in his life---from a graduate student to a successful business executive.
Since 2001 Tim has served as the game analyst on the Rutgers Football Radio Network and has also provided color for college football various regional sports networks since 2002.
He has been a regular contributor as a college and NFL football expert on SportsNet NY and also served as Executive Vice President at CSTV, College Sports Television where since its startup in 2003 to its sale of the company to CBS in 2005 he has overseen the TV and multi-media rights and relationships part of CSTV's business.
Now, the circulation of Tim’s network has reached to 15 million families. And this alumnus of MCIS has been nominated for the Sports Business Journal's '40 under 40' for the last four years recognizing the most powerful people in the sports business under the age of 40.
“Running business has something in common as playing football,” Tim said, “they both need strategy, creativity and most importantly, excellent time management.” MCIS played an important role in Pernetti’s growth in all those areas.
By Difei Xie (Steven Shie)
Alice Tier was a successful practitioner of advertising and public relations for more than a decade when she came to MCIS to learn about communication theory.
Tier, owner of the Fallon Creative Group in Monmouth Junction, NJ, credits much of her success to what she learned through the MCIS program, from which she graduated in 2003.
“I really gained a deeper understanding of communication theory/philosophy,” said Tier. “The most helpful bit of information I took with me is that messages sent do not always equal message received.”
Tier explained that the most beneficial part of the MCIS program were the courses offered. “My favorite course was leadership,” explained Tier. “I think everybody getting a degree like this should take a course in leadership,” she added. The leadership course offered by the MCIS program not only educates students on how to become a better leader but also instills a set of fundamental values that enable people to work more efficiently in the workforce, she added.
Along with the course in leadership, Tier feels that public speaking and other communication courses offered by the MCIS program benefited her in the workplace and are essential for a successful career. “I think it is unfortunate that communication courses are not required for everyone, especially business majors,” said Tier.
“People do not know what communication is, and you meet people who have not had training in organizational communication and it’s unfortunate,” she added. “Not only do people not have a background in communication, but they also have a misconception of what it is. A lot of people think of telecommunications right away.”
Tier has an undergraduate degree from Rutgers in Journalism and Media Studies. She recommends an undergraduate sequence in journalism followed by the MCIS degree. “I would absolutely recommend going to MCIS,” said Tier. “You get a theoretical background from the MCIS program.”
Since graduation from MCIS, Tier has worked as a consultant, writer and editor for many clients. Through her business she does marketing, advertising, and public relations for corporations. “I have clients in a variety of industries such as global logistics, healthcare, and computer technology,” said Tier. “I do everything from developing concepts to buying media space, placing ads and writing press releases.”
The MCIS degree also gave Tier the credentials to teach college level courses. She currently teaches at Rider University, sharing the knowledge and experience she learned from the MCIS program with her students.
“I enjoy teaching communication and the reward it brings when students begin to understand the social science aspects of the subject,” said Tier. She has taught a variety of classes ranging from public relations to public speaking and strategic speech for business and grammar.
Tier believes that potential and current MCIS students should learn more about the philosophy of communication but should be certain to keep improving their skills at the same time. “Interpersonal and group communication skills, and of course writing, speaking, listening, acknowledging and critical thinking are extremely important,” said Tier. “I think an advanced writing course is extremely important because the educational system stops teaching English grammar early on, and many students do not know how to write,” she added.
As technology and the media continue to change the way we communicate, curriculum continues to change as well. The core lessons Tier learned while she was in the MCIS program help her despite rapid changes in the communication system.
“The MCIS program taught me to become a better listener,” said Tier. “I consider all points of view and try to remember that every interaction matters,” she added. “The program helped improve my self awareness and awareness of others.”
By Kristina Zias
Since being placed at Johnson & Johnson 14 years ago through the MCIS program, Alison J. Sentie remains an effective and dynamic employee at J&J today.
“The MCIS program was my introduction to J&J, and without it, I never would have embarked on the career I have now,” said Sentie, who is a customer logistics strategy analyst based in Skillman, NJ. “I believe all advanced degrees provide a certain amount of credibility, but the MCIS program, within Johnson & Johnson, has influence due to the quality of the graduates it turns out.”
Sentie was privileged enough to be offered one of the J&J Fellowships while at MCIS. “So while I was earning my master's, I was also working in a business setting and able to apply my classes to my job and vice versa,” she said.
Not only has the MCIS program helped Sentie develop specific skills for her career but she also learned many communication skills. These have served her well in not only business settings but in everyday situations. “I learned that crafting a message so that it can be heard by the intended audience is critical to succeeding anywhere, and perhaps that applies most in the corporate world,” Sentie said. “In addition, MCIS taught me to value information very highly, before it was really viewed as a critical skill in many places.”
The MCIS curriculum was extremely beneficial for Sentie. She loved her professors and felt that they were extremely knowledgeable in their fields. They helped her see how communication is crucial in the operation of any company. “The MCIS program also taught me that designing a system to capture data is useless, unless you can get that data back OUT in an organized, intelligent fashion that allows for rich analysis after the fact,” Sentie said. “Otherwise, all that data is simply trapped and does not have an actionable impact on your business.”
There were many aspects of the MCIS program that convinced Sentie to apply. As a Communication major in the Rutgers College Honors program she was fortunate enough to be able to take graduate level courses in the MCIS program as an undergraduate student. “I felt the MCIS courses were very well run and allowed me to explore topics at a much greater depth than I could as an undergrad,” Sentie said. Her favorite courses analyzed the direct communication between people in different ways, which were atypical of classes she was used to.
“I liked the types of courses that allowed me to look at how people said things in addition to what they said,” Sentie added. “I also loved the course where we would observe people in social settings and deconstruct their entire communication, both verbal and non-verbal. I found the entire topic fascinating.”
She rates her graduate study in the MCIS program as “completely beneficial and a positive learning experience.” Said Sentie, “The education itself was wonderful. I benefited from smaller class size, interesting topics, the ability to take some cross-training classes from the MBA program, and a core group of great classmates.”
Relating what she learned in her classes to her fellowship tasks at J&J was very useful. She called the MCIS collaboration with J&J “the absolute most valuable and rewarding work experience I've ever had.” Sentie has been able to apply the essential communication knowledge she gained from the MCIS program to her career at J&J. “I believe that the fundamentals of communication, critical thinking, and understanding information flow in organizations are of huge benefit,” Sentie said.
In almost a decade and a half she has worked in three sectors at J&J as well as its corporate offices. She has also held positions in IT, Sales Operations, and Customer Logistics. “At J&J, I have worked with large amounts of data in all my jobs, and my primary function is to turn data into actionable information,” Sentie said. “That is the underlying key that has allowed me to move between functional silos and J&J companies.”
She would definitely recommend the MCIS program to others. “When taking courses, look at how you would apply them not only within the confines of the course itself, but to real-world situations,” Sentie advised. “Take advantage of networking within the program and reach out to others who have been in the business world for some time. If you are an experienced person pursuing a degree after having been in the business world for some time, be open to new and interesting solutions, even if they are unusual or different than how you have always done things.”
By Laura Schneebacher
A valuable master’s degree in Communication and Information Studies from Rutgers University has taken Monica Hunter Fish from New Brunswick, NJ, to Los Angeles, where she manages public relations for Neutrogena, a Johnson and Johnson company.
Without MCIS, where she was chosen to join the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship program, Fish does not believe she would have the position she holds today. It’s really hard to get a foot in the door at a place like J&J,” she noted, “and the fact that MCIS offered an opportunity like that was amazing.” She was lucky enough to intern in the Corporate Communication Department at J&J, where she gained hands-on experience in the field of public relations.
Fish, a Washington D.C. native, was an undergraduate Communication major at Rutgers, and one summer found herself as an intern at the global PR firm Weber Shandwick Worldwide, where she was a member of the account team for the successful Beijing 2008 Olympic Bid campaign. Weber Shandwick was the first western public relations firm hired by the Chinese government and was charged with leading the communications effort to secure China’s first Olympics.
She knew she wanted a career in public relations yet at the end of her senior year was unsure of how to go about it. In a public relations class someone mentioned MCIS and the Johnson & Johnson Fellowship program. “It seemed like an amazing opportunity so I applied,” Fish recalled.
Looking back at her studies as a MCIS student, Fish believes, “Having a go-get-it mentality helped me understand the concept of how to apply classroom learning to the work environment. I got as much from the program as I put in.” Fish feels that the MCIS program was extremely beneficial and useful. “You get to meet other working professionals; it’s a really nice mix to work with other people in the classroom. I met great friends, great contacts, people I still keep in contact with today. Having a network like that is really so valuable.”
Although Fish doesn’t know where her career might take her next, she feels that not only do companies value advanced degrees but master’s degrees open the door for many other opportunities. “I would love to be involved in the training of future public relations professionals,” she said. “Having a master’s degree allowed that door to be open for me. It allows me the opportunity to be an adjunct professor down the road.”
Fish’s MCIS degree has brought her success and enhanced opportunity. She believes the program can do the same for others. “Everyone comes to MCIS with a different end goal, so make it your own,” she continued. “At the end of the day it’s your experience. Each experience is a stepping stone to somewhere else.”
By Kimberly Topping
Location, location…curriculum! These are what attracted the interest of MCIS alumna Tara Flynn Condon to the Rutgers MCIS program.
Condon, director of product marketing for a large New Jersey technology manufacturer, Cryptek, Inc., entered MCIS in fall 2001. She admits that she was first enticed by the program’s close proximity to her home in the Garden State. “However, once I began to learn more about the MCIS program, I was attracted to the curriculum,” said Condon. “I liked that I could get a broad education on the subject and then focus on the areas that interested me personally and professionally.”
She attributes her success in her job to the expertise of the MCIS faculty and the independent work she was permitted to do at Rutgers. According to Condon, faculty emphasize original research, cutting edge theory, and knowledge and skills necessary to understand and manage complex communications. “I got the opportunity to do some independent study related to e-mail marketing,” said Condon. “Having the ability to connect my studies to something in my professional experience was very valuable.”
Courses like Organizational Communication taught by Professor Marya Doerfel have proven to be “absolutely invaluable,” according to Condon. Since graduating in 2004, Condon has held several jobs marketing hardware and software products nationally and internationally. She has also served as an executive board member of the New Jersey Business Marketing Association (NJ/BMA).
“Because it is less common than an MBA, I feel the degree has—in some cases—made me a more interesting candidate,” said Condon. “Communication is part of everything we do. So, I feel my MCIS experience allows me to bring knowledge and experience to bear across a wide spectrum of projects.”
She continued: “I think I learned a strong framework for understanding and tackling communication challenges, particularly those in a corporate setting. Additionally, I learned a vocabulary for how to break down these challenges to others, which allows us to work our way through them. For example, if I had a nickel for every time I've asked, ‘Who are our stakeholders here?’ I would be very rich indeed!”
The bottom line is that the program helps students excel in the fields of their choice. “I love technology in all forms,” emphasized Condon. “So I like that I get to constantly learn new products and then educate and excite the public about them.”
Condon also acknowledges the importance of respect for the audience. “The MCIS program helped me to expand on this concept,” said Condon. “Understanding your audience and communicating with them on their terms are essential to getting your message across.”
By Megan Vear
Because of MCIS, alumna Edna Castaneda can run circles around her competition. Castaneda, account manager for client services for the athletics-oriented Active Marketing Group in Manhattan, is enamored with running. “It is an amazing sport that pushes individuals to exceed their goals,” Castaneda says.
Castaneda is familiar with exceeding ambitions--a skill she honed during her graduate work at MCIS.
The program was an easy choice for the Rutgers communications major. “As an undergraduate, I found that SC&I equipped me with insightful knowledge,” Castaneda says. “It seemed a natural fit for me to continue with the school’s curriculum for my master’s. As I transcended into more graduate work, I learned how the undergraduate fundamentals further resonated with real life and work situations.”
Castaneda especially enjoyed her organization and mediated communication courses. “I still remember when I would leave Professor Brent Ruben’s and Professor Marya Doerfel’s classes fascinated by what I had learned,” Castaneda gushes. “The funny thing is that even now I refer back to my textbooks to incorporate lessons with my real-life work experiences.”
In her work with Active Marketing Group, these experiences sometimes include direct contact with occasionally “temperamental” clients. The digital media and marketing firm’s clientele includes Hershey, Choice Hotels, Vitamin Shoppe and Dunkin’ Donuts—to name a few. The company uses its direct relationships with clients and the public to communicate nationwide with active-minded consumers and athletes.
“We work with very targeted groups to ensure that their message is clearly being relayed to the specific audience they’re looking for,” Castaneda says. “A lot of work goes into ensuring a happy client. Our role on the account management and operations side is to always do our best to attain a flawless outcome.”
Castaneda’s MCIS education has served her well. “As I work with specific clients, it is very important for me to understand the granular details that make them tick so that I better speak and understand their language,” Castaneda says. “At MCIS I learned the vast amount of details that go into a person’s make up. Having that framework has allowed me to better understand our business and our clients’ direction.”
A crucial lesson Castaneda learned at MCIS was that the characteristic makeup of a leader is unique and specific. “In a meeting with executives of one of our biggest clients, they were sharing a story on taking a ‘leader personality’ survey,” Castaneda said. “I recalled lessons from Professor Ruben, and they were quite impressed with my educational background on the subject. There have been countless other instances that I’ve referred back to my education to help me rationalize, access and better manage situations.”
In addition to fine-tuning her communication skills, Castaneda’s work broadens her athletic horizons. “With the opportunity to work on different accounts, I’ve garnered a fondness for running events, golf tournaments and the Little League World Series,” the avid cyclist said. “And, of course, any event that could give me a glimpse of Lance Armstrong.”
By Jessica Sager
Maggie Pazian has turned the art of people watching into her own behavioral consulting company, and that’s more than okay with her.
Pazian was born in Poland and grew up in Montreal, Canada before finally settling in Bergen County, New Jersey at thirteen years old. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Communication and French, and her master’s degree from Rutgers University
“I went to Rutgers because it was my safety school… my fallback school financially,” Pazian said, with a touch of shy humor. “But I’m very happy I came here and went through the Rutgers experience.”
Pazian, a graduate of the Master of Communication and Information Studies (MCIS) degree program, formally studied organizational communication and worked as a graduate student for Dr. Mark Frank while working toward her master’s degree.
“I ended up specializing and learning about nonverbal communication because of my work as a project manager with Dr. Frank: I ran studies, I analyzed data and I managed his office.
“My master’s degree was pointing me to the corporate world, communication within organization. It was like doing two master’s programs at once, one work experience and one corporate. Now that I graduated, I’m working in the nonverbal field.”
Pazian is the president of VisualEmotion, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in behavioral analysis. VisualEmotion, LLC offers analysis of people’s behaviors, facial movements, body language, deception detection and emotional recognition.
Pazian is grateful for her MCIS education, which she feels helped her prepare for her current role as the head of a behavioral consulting firm.
“The training I got was through SC&I, but it wasn’t through classes. It was all hands-on experience. I got really lucky, doing this stuff day in and day out for two years and getting a graduate assistant position, which is very rare. The class work was a complement because it taught me more organizational theories.
“Both my fields were very different but prepared me for owning my own business.” Using the skills she acquired as a student of nonverbal communication, Pazian draws on everything from her subject’s expression to their tone of voice to determine whether they are lying or not.
Pazian forms her detailed analyses using a program called the “facial action coding system”, developed by Dr. Paul Eckman. She also uses a body coding system, currently under development, that she uses to analyze body deception. “I’m a human lie detector, essentially,” Pazian said. “People often think that looking someone in the eye as opposed to looking away means you’re lying, and that’s not necessarily true. There are small signs, like scratching one’s nose that’s also not necessarily true. The most important thing is to always gauge people’s baseline and then to look for deviations,” Pazian said.
For the most part, Pazian appreciates the flexibility running a company allows her. “I work with independent contractors and everything is done virtually and remotely. [Running my own company] taught me how to manage a virtual team and how to manage having people working in different areas.
“I’m my own boss, and it’s constantly changing. I’m always looking at different people and being challenged in different ways by applying theories of emotional recognition.
As for future Rutgers students eager to follow in Pazian’s footsteps? Pazian recommends the MCIS fellowship program with Johnson & Johnson, something she calls a “very good corporate and networking experience”, and pure, old-fashioned persistence.
“There’s a lot of opportunity. The professors are excellent and full of knowledge, and it’s just a matter of taking advantage of the knowledge that professors have. “The door’s always open. There’s always an opportunity waiting around the corner—you just have to go after it.”
By Amanda Cafaro
“I hope what I do can not only benefit myself but more importantly, benefit others,” said Joshua Gelles, a recent graduate of the Master of Communication and Information Studies (MCIS) Program at Rutgers University.
Carrying this commitment from the moment Gelles started his study in the MCIS program, he focused his academic interest on Health Communication area. “ I believe the achievement in this field will help more people,” said Gelles, who has been involved in several heath communication research studies on the dangers of drinking on campus.
As a Project Manager of the Center for Communication and Health Issues (CHI) which is dedicated to conducting research on communication and health issues affecting college students and to designing, implementing and evaluating campus and community-based education, intervention and prevention programs, Gelles closely worked with Professor Lea Stewert on the “R U SURE Campaign,” a campaign that targeted on changing the “culture of college drinking” and correcting first-year students’ misperceptions of excessive drinking as a norm.
“We collected our data from the Personal Report of Student Perceptions and it helped us determine healthy, alcohol-related, normative behaviors of Rutgers students,” Gelles said. “The preliminary findings we’ve had is that 2/3 of RU students stop at 3 or fewer drinks. Almost 1 in 5 don't drink at all.”
An on-going public relations campaign was then created to gain increased media coverage of normative drinking behavior at Rutgers and it has received coverage on CNN, News 12 New Jersey, WWOR, and the Daily Targum (Rutgers student newspaper).
The academic capabilities Gelles aquired from his research in MCIS and CHI as well as the experience of being the Teaching Assistant for Health Communication led him to another health communication study at a higher level---Let’s Talk About It, an activity designed to provoke discussion and self-awareness about drinking-related behaviors and perceptions among college students.
“Let’s Talk About It is an interactive simulation/game that encourages discussion of alcohol-related choices and behaviors among students and their peers,” said Gelles, “We created a conjuction computing database to generate our survey which was a Personal Feedback Intervention survey and we implemented the whole survey online.”
Let’s Talk About It has been now updated to reflect not only contemporary choices facing college students but to extend previous games by including fact-based information and incorporating individual response technology.
The deep involvement in real academic research made Gelles’s master studies very busy.
“I do feel the two years here at the MCIS is a very rewarding experience,” said Gelles who graduated from this program in 2009 and has decided to start his career in heath communication area.
Gelles said, “What I’ve learned from MCIS shaped what I want to do and where I want to go.”
By Difei Xie (Steven Shie)
Michael Hall, ’09, hopes to use his MCIS education to develop a career in politics, perhaps one focused on campaign organizing and strategies, more specifically for the Obama administration.
To get him there, he is planning on using the skills he learned at MCIS, such as implementing the principles of organizational leadership he learned from Professor Brent Ruben, along with his acquired ability to manage media campaigns.
Hall is a former history major at Centre College in Kentucky and freelance writer for the Sunshine State’s Jacksonville Magazine.
He says he is inspired by role models David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s top political advisor, and David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager. “Planning and organizing events like that is something I would love to do myself because it allows you to be creative and hands-on, all at the same time,” he stated.
Hall began the MCIS program a year and a half ago, transferring in with previous credits. “I came to the MCIS program because I wanted a grounded, yet liberal communication education that was broad enough to encompass multiple topics and themes,” he said.
To finish early, he also has been taking four classes each semester rather than the three most students take.
He chose the Rutgers program over several others, including Penn State and Lehigh University. “I wanted to be a part of the history of the university, and I chose the communications program because it closely matched my background in journalism,” Hall noted.
His favorite MCIS experience has been Professor Ruben’s Organizational Leadership course. In a class of four students, Hall said he learned a great deal. The course focused on specific books about leaders. “I learned a lot about various people I might otherwise have never bothered to study,” he added.
He is also learning about media campaigns and corporate PR, communication fundamentals, corporate social responsibility strategies, knowledge management, and organizational planning.
According to Hall, a lot of the MCIS professors are passionate about what they teach through knowledge and creative design. “Rather than letting the readings be the focus of the class, it is often the students and student-led ideas that become the focal point,” he reported. “In this way, the professors help generate a lot of lively discussion and idea sharing.”
Other professors he admired were Dr. David Greenberg, who teaches Media History, and Dr. Kathryn Greene, who teaches Health Communication. He said that both were encouraging to him. “A lot of emphasis was placed on student-led discussions and presentations,” noted Hall. “Both encouraged me to read the materials extensively and know them backward and forward. Both were very adamant about allowing us to come up with a design for our final papers.”
Through all this, Hall is learning how to manage stress and multiple deadlines. Although he was never taught to manage stress or deadlines, he has developed a coping mechanism over time through experience and trial and error.
“This is something you don’t learn in class,” he added. He said that many professors assign a lot of large papers over the course. Even though it can be overwhelming, said Hall, it is something you get used to.
He said, “I’ve definitely grown in terms of the amounts of pressure I can work under. This program is not for the lazy or faint of heart, and I can say that I honestly feel very prepared to go out into the working world.”
Without hesitation Hall recommends the MCIS program to other students. “I would say it’s a smart decision, but that it’s going to require a substantial amount of work and commitment,” he said.
Now that he is close to graduating, he notes how much he has grown in a positive way throughout his time in MCIS. And Hall is still excited to be in the learning curve. Before he graduates Hall is “hoping to gain an awareness of how corporations and/or media communicate messages to us.”
He may or may not end up in Washington, DC. But having an MCIS degree from Rutgers, he noted, will definitely benefit him due to its “reputation, its foundational structure.”
By Dupal Patel
In the stressful world of practicing law where can a lawyer turn to for personal growth and a chance to be creative? For Laura Lamberta the answer is not the legal profession but rather the MCIS program at Rutgers University.
“I liked the law profession, and it was challenging,” noted Lamberta. “But I enrolled in the MCIS program because I wanted to do something a little more creative, and Rutgers has a great reputation.”
In the MCIS program, Lamberta is in an environment that appeals to her creative side while still offering her the satisfaction of thriving while overcoming challenges. “It has pushed me to be a better researcher,” she said. “And the program’s focus on communication theory has been challenging,” Lamberta said.
“MCIS teaches you business communication skills, writing, and oral presentation skills,” she continued. “It really teaches you how to think critically about your communication with others.”
Lamberta is among a large and growing group of Americans who change careers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (April 2002), Americans averaged 10 jobs between the ages of 18 and 34, and that number has increased in recent years. While some of these changes can be attributed to laid-off workers, there is a growing number of Americans who undergo career changes in pursuit of greater career satisfaction.
Lamberta has not yet decided on a specific career path, but after just two semesters in the MCIS program she is more aware of her options. “I’m still searching but the MCIS program has exposed me to different areas in communication that I haven’t thought of before,” she said.
Lamberta credits her MCIS professors for giving her the tools to learn what is necessary to understand and manage the complex communication, information, and media processes inherent to the information age. “The professors are very open to new ideas,” she said. “They want you thinking about current research and how it affects your job,” Lamberta said.
In the MCIS program there is little separation between cutting-edge research and real-world applications. “My professor works at Johnson & Johnson, and he comes in with real-life scenarios,” Lamberta reported. “The professors in general work hard to be current.”
MCIS is hoping to attract more students like Lamberta who are anxious to make a career change. As technology keeps reinventing itself, the MCIS program may be the path toward a new, exciting, and more rewarding career, both emotionally and economically.
By Jonathan Rosenberg
Harry Glazer, 2009 MCIS Graduate
The communications director for the Rutgers University Libraries, Harry Glazer, is back in school in the MCIS program. “It was time to go back to improve my skills,” said Glazer, who attends MCIS part-time. A 1987 Rutgers College graduate, Glazer looked seriously at four different master’s programs at Rutgers before he chose the MCIS program. “It was the most appealing to me in terms of my interests, experience, and professional work,” he noted.
And he has immersed himself in the program. For the past two and a half years, Glazer has also been the president of the MCIS Graduate Student Association (GSA). There used to be a student group before Glazer took over, but it slowly diminished. Glazer helped to bring the group back to life.
The GSA holds symposiums and also provides a chance for students within MCIS to socialize, build relationships and network with each other. With such different and busy lifestyles in graduate school it is not as easy as it is in undergraduate studies to build relationships, Glazer noted. He enjoys being involved and serving as president. “But if anyone else would like a chance, I’ll step aside happily,” he said.
The best thing about MCIS, said Glazer, is that what he learns in classes has helped him obtain more skills to bring to his current job.
Some of the classes he's appreciated the most include: Knowledge Management with Professor Stew Mohr and Media Studies with Professor John Pavlik. Glazer explains, “Knowledge Management is a class that helps one to better track the skills of different employees within an entire organization. This particular class has helped me to grow as a
communicator. I feel better trained and more confident when working on particular projects for my job within the library.”
Drawing on one of the concepts he learned in Knowledge Management, Glazer formed a Rutgers University Communicators' Community of Practice. The group brings together communicators from SC&I, the Bildner Center, the English Department, the Rutgers Foundation, and others to share best practices and meet with guest speakers such as newspaper reporters, a website usability consultant, and others.
The Media Studies class with Professor Pavlik is an online class. Glazer laughs as he states, “I don’t even know what the professor looks like, but I love the class." The class looks at different forms of the media and how they are developed. One of the projects Glazer had to do was to create his own blog. The blog Glazer created was called Facebook: Beyond
the Campus. It studied the uses and misuses of Facebook by people who are not in a college atmosphere. Glazer said, “From creating this blog I learned how media works from the inside. I would have probably never created a blog if it was not for this class.”
Glazer, who plans to graduate from the program in October 2009, definitely agrees that the MCIS program has made a significant difference in his work as the Rutgers University Libraries communication director. Glazer said, “My greatest achievement so far is doing well in my classes and making valuable contributions.”
By Jaime DiCostanzi