The cross-functional value of an ADPR degree
By: Madison Drummond
I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking about “the moment:” the moment in time where I finally decide what I want to do with my life and career. For some, this moment comes all at once, in a dramatic, powerful way, when they are incredibly young. It fuels them forever and guides their every action. For others, that moment never comes, or maybe even comes every few years, changing their life path over and over.
Looking back at my college career, I felt like choosing a major was that moment for me: I was clicking a button that would set the tone for the rest of my life. It’s like buying an outfit you can never take off; one that says “I like my coffee strong and my slacks pressed. Do not mess with me. I am an ADPR professional.” I was convinced, by earning an ADPR degree, I was set on a very narrow path. It terrified me.
Now that I am older and (modestly) wiser, I realize that I did myself the ultimate favor. One of the lesser known benefits of studying ADPR is having an incredibly flexible and marketable degree. While I can be an ADPR professional in any industry, I can also take my skills and technical knowledge into any position and sell myself as a strong candidate–and even more importantly–a great hire.
In my life, this meant deciding to pursue a career in higher education administration, applying to numerous, nationally ranked graduate programs studying policy and theory of education in America, and earning offers for graduate assistantships in all kinds of departments at schools all over the country.
Here are a few of the skills and experiences I capitalized on to maneuver into a new industry:
If you know the ADPR curriculum you know group work steals the show. Working with project teams provides you a variety of skills including delegation, conflict resolution and collaboration.
Experience with team management also shows employers you know how to manage tasks and run the show. This experience proves that you are trustworthy and capable of getting the job done, no matter the task.
ADPR as a field is centered around competent communication. This provides some rather obvious advantages, but also helps you stand out from other candidates who are not used to working so heavily in brand management or storytelling.
I took every opportunity in my interviews to explain how important effective communication was and what it looked like in a given situation. This deeper level of understanding outside the basic “communication is so important” answer seemed to impress.
This places you in a unique position relative to other candidates in terms of your ability to present yourself. A standout, custom designed resume or well-written cover letter will push your material to the top of a large pile of applicants, and leave a lasting impact on interviewers.
In nearly every one of my graduate school interviews I was asked how I dealt with situations where I had competing priorities. This was my golden ticket question; as a UGA and Grady student, you learn to align your life by maintaining a certain standard of organization. ADPR students always have something going on; between career and educational pursuits, extracurriculars in and outside our college and other hobbies and personal lives outside the four walls of the building, we keep moving and keep organized to ensure we strike a balance between all these things.
Don’t be afraid to tell employers the responsibilities that you managed during your time as an undergraduate. Providing numbers and figures helps support your statements that you know how to stay organized. If you are a student still developing these skills, admit that and recognize that you are always improving.
Every industry is learning how to be competitive in the digital world. Through my ADPR coursework, I was exposed to strategy on how best to utilize social media to better a brand. While this may not be my exact job in another industry, knowing the “why” and “how” of ADPR will help you better understand business as a whole.
ADPR asks its students to carry a greater understanding of the world around them than some other programs. We need to know how people work to be able to relate to them for our various purposes. This level of social and cultural understanding is important to have anywhere an exchange of ideas is occurring- in a boardroom or in a classroom.
Having strong cultural competencies can show employers that you care about representing yourself and their organization in a respectful and inclusive way. It also can reflect your alignment with the organization’s values and visions of the world they wish to create.
As it turns out, the “moment” I thought so much about has happened a few times, and every time I have come to appreciate my ADPR education more. My degree provided me with exposure and experience I would not have had otherwise and that has shaped the way I view the world and think about problems in a positive way. So, have your moment, and know that an ADPR degree will help you on your path–whatever it may be.