Studies in Interpersonal Communication Result in Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award

Posted on: May 8, 2017

The interest to pursue a career in interpersonal communication started at a young age for Samantha Shebib, whose ultimate goal was to be accepted into MSU’s Ph.D. Communication Program. Tracing back to personal experiences, Shebib connected immensely to the field of communication because it is relatable to every demographic.

Unknown“It has always been my dream to be a Spartan,” said Shebib. “I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with the impeccable faculty and students in the Department of Communication. It’s crazy to look back on all those years I put into it and to see my hard work pay off. It’s an extremely rewarding feeling.”

Shebib identifies herself as a post-positivist researcher who studies interpersonal/family communication, nonverbal communication, physiological responses, social support and most importantly, quantitative research methods. She has bounced around several different regions of the world to endure rigorous academic success, beginning with her Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University in May 2014, followed by her Master of Science in Communication Studies from Illinois State University in May 2016.

Most recently, Shebib received the Outstanding Master's Thesis award from the School of Communication at Illinois State University on April 17, 2017. The award is given each year to one student only and was designed to promote a high-quality master’s thesis. Shebib’s thesis was titled "Financial Conflict Messages and Marital Satisfaction: The Mediating Role of Financial Communication Satisfaction."

“At Illinois State, my advisor was Dr. William R. Cupach and my former committee member was Dr. Kevin Meyer, both who nominated me for this award,” explained Shebib. “My thesis was interested in examining the proposed mechanisms through which different financial conflict messages influence marital satisfaction, specifically through the mediating variable of financial communication satisfaction. This empirical work, and the work I continue to do at MSU, is aimed at constructing a theory in marital conflict.”

Shebib believes that marital conflict is an important area to study because of its impact on children that become exposed to it.

“Since conflict is inevitable in all relationships, a theoretical framework to understand why people engage in destructive and dysfunctional strategies when conflict occurs would be extremely beneficial and would add important insight when trying to make sense out of marital discord,” explained Shebib. “Not only do children exposed to marital conflict have a greater risk for a host of behavioral and emotional problems, but it also socializes children to handle conflict the way their parents handle conflict. If I can disentangle and make sense out of marital conflict, well, then I think I can tackle conflict in other relationships, too. Fingers crossed.”

By Emmy Virkus

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The Link Between Brain Activity and Social Networks

Posted on: May 4, 2017

This story was originally published on MSU Today

The structure of the social network to which a person belongs could shape how their brain responds to social exclusion, according to a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher.

Ralf Schmaelzle, assistant professor of communication, poses on Tuesday April 14, 2017.

Ralf Schmaelzle, assistant professor of communication, poses on Tuesday April 14, 2017.

The study is authored by assistant professor Ralf Schmäelzle, from the College of Communications Arts and Sciences, and published together with a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the Army Research Lab in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers looked at the brain’s response to social exclusion under fMRI, particularly in the so-called mentalizing system, which includes separate regions of the brain that help consider the views of others.

“The finding here is that these regions, which are in different places in the brain, show greater connectivity in response to social exclusion,” Schmälzle said. “They go up and down together, almost as if they’re dancing together, doing the same moves over time, and this ‘coupling’ of their activity increases during social exclusion.”

To create the experience of social exclusion, the researchers used a virtual ball-tossing game called Cyberball with 80 boys ages 16-17. While in the fMRI machine, each participant saw a screen with two other cartoon players — who they believed to be controlled by real people — and a hand to represent themselves. All three participants in the game take turns tossing a virtual ball to one another.

For the first phase of the game, the virtual players include the test subject, tossing him the ball frequently. The game then shifts to exclusion mode, and the virtual players stop throwing the ball to the participant.

“During exclusion, people might begin to ask themselves, ‘What might that mean when people are excluding me?” Schmälzle said. “They may ask, ‘Have I done something wrong?’ or ‘Why are they doing this?’ and such kinds of thought might engage mentalizing processes.”

The researchers also were able to access, with permission, the test subjects’ Facebook data, giving them a snapshot of their friendship networks. They found test subjects who showed a greater increase in brain connectivity during social exclusion were those in sparse networks. In sparse networks, the friends of a person tend to not know each other. In dense networks, by contrast, many of a person’s friends are also friends with each other.

“Social network analysis and thinking about social networks has been around a long time in sociology,” said Emily Falk, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School and director of its Communication Neuroscience Lab. “But it’s only recently that these kind of quantitative measures of social networks have been combined with an understanding of the brain. How do your brain dynamics affect your social network and how does your social network affect your brain? We’re at the very tip of the iceberg right now.”

In addition to Schmälzle and Falk, study authors include Matthew Brook O’Donnell, Christopher Cascio and Danielle Bassett, all from the University of Pennsylvania; Javier Garcia and Jean Vettel from the U.S. Army Research Lab; and Joseph Bayer from The Ohio State University.

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March for Science

Posted on: April 26, 2017

Science March DC April 2017As we were being driven toward the Washington DC National Mall On Earth Day, April 22 for the March for Science you could see people streaming toward the Washington Monument.  On sidewalks, in raincoats, carrying thousands of homemade as well as preprinted signs, walking in groups of 2, 3, 4 and more, a lot of them grouped by disciplines.  Entomologists on the left (“Black Widows for Science!”), physicists ahead dressed in Albert Einstein wigs and lab coats, science communication researchers on the right (“Science not Silence!”).  A hundred thousand graduate students, lab post docs, professors and researchers, federal government staffers, one girl wearing a space shuttle made out of cardboard, a boy dressed like Bill Nye the Science Guy (best sign:  “Without science, Bill Nye would be just a guy”), and me wearing all Green & White and holding a large Spartan umbrella and responding “Go White!” to calls every 60 seconds of “Go Green!”.  It was a proud day to be a MSU Spartan.
A Voice of America television crew followed me and a PhD from the MSU college of education for several hours, chronicling our experiences as we met an MSU physicist and listened to an MSU pediatrician rally the growing crowd (“What do we want?”  “Science!”  “When do we want it?”  “Now!”)  They were just one of the many many media organizations on-site with cameras rolling.  Questlove and his Big Band up on stage with a rocking horn section.  Bill Nye the Science Guy whipping up the mass of scientists, young and old.  Thomas Dolby thrilling the crowd in the light rain with his smash hit “She Blinded Me with Science!”  It was all serious and all fun.  It may also be just the start of researchers, academics and scientists and students standing up for knowledge and facts and their role in continuing to make a better world.

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James W. Dearing, PhD
Professor and Chairperson

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Edward Maibach shares research about communicating climate change

Posted on: April 25, 2017

Picture1On April 21 – one day short of Earth Day – the College of Communication Arts and Sciences welcomed Dr. Edward Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, to speak at the annual Bettinghaus Endowed Lecture organized by the Department of Communication and the Health and Risk Communication Center.

During a time when questions about our impact on the planet seem endless and recurring, Maibach highlighted how important it is to encourage people to learn and discuss the issue of climate change and its effects. He shared with faculty, students and staff of the college about his research on TV weathercasters as vehicles to spread news about this important issue via a segment called Climate Matters.

He spoke about how people trust scientists to provide information related to the environment and other scientific debates. However, just behind that group, people rank TV weathercasters high on the list of trustworthy sources. Maibach supported this by explaining that they have the trust of the public, access to the public and great communication skills. He credits experiential learning as a factor that helps people engage with issues and become more knowledgeable and aware of matters like climate change.

“Dr. Maibach’s work is cutting-edge both in terms of methodology and substance. He is creating innovative models for studying the effects of the news on people’s beliefs and attitudes," said Maria Lapinski, professor in the Department of Communication. 

Partnered with Climate Central, an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the public, Maibach and researchers provide the newscasters with the information and digital content necessary to reach audiences such as maps, severe weather trackers and more. So far, 390 weathercasters have been a part of Climate Matters and numbers are growing.

Dan Totzkay, a Ph.D. Communication student, attended the lecture and called it “exciting and interesting.” As a fan of Maibach’s work, Totzkay said the presentation got him thinking about his own research and taking inspiration from Maibach to design better campaigns and know where to look.

Being that Maibach’s lecture was on the day before Earth Day, it was fitting that a group of people came together to educate themselves about how being conscious of issues such as climate change can benefit the future of our planet.

“Not only is it Earth Day, but also the March for Science. It’s about protecting the Earth,” said Totzkay. “We’ve only got the one, so this is pretty pertinent because, for whatever reason, (climate change has) become so controversial, even though it shouldn’t be … I think finding people like weathercasters or anyone else who people will listen to is so crucial.”

The next part of Maibach’s research is in the works. Currently funded by the National Science Foundation, among others, the team recently submitted a second NSF grant proposal. Together, Maibach and his researchers are preparing for the future of the organization.

The Bettinghaus Lecture was endowed by former Department of Communication Chair Erwin P. Bettinhaus and his family, friends and colleagues. Bettinghaus also served as the Dean of the college for 20 years.

 

By Savannah Swix

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Communication junior to spend summer interning at BCPM in New York City

Posted on: April 14, 2017

New York City is like a second home for communication junior Allie Baer. Having traveled to the city almost every year since she was young will make her summer internship position with BCPM a smooth transition. BCPM is a global public relations agency, specializing in brand building and communications in New York City.

“I thrive in fast-paced environments and am thrilled Allie Baerfor this opportunity,” said Baer.

Baer’s personal and professional connections enabled her the chance to interview with the company over the phone. Just a few days later, she was offered the position, which she excitedly accepted.

“I can’t wait to be a part of such an outstanding agency,” Baer said. “I knew BCPM was a top public relations agency and it was started by two strong women, which really appealed to me. They offered me a position in the fashion department, so I am excited to learn more about that industry as well.”

Baer admires how the company got its start. She said it shows women choosing their career paths and pursuing what they want to do.

“Their client list spoke volumes for me,” Baer said. “BCPM works with high-level clients, including fashion and travel. I’ve been interested in both of these industries as it relates to public relations and now I will get to learn from professionals how these industries work.”

She describes this internship as her first real-world experience.

“I’m on my own at MSU, but this experience will be different,” Baer said. “I will be working and living on my own, which is exciting and scary all at the same time.”

How she started the search process

Baer started networking and applying for internships earlier this fall to get ahead of the summer internship season. At the time, she was a part of a course that met for two hours on Fridays, facilitated by Karin Hanson and Rachel Ruis. Each week, they brought in MSU alumni to speak to the class and offer advice about the networking process, the importance of attending career fairs and industry insight.

“They told us to not be afraid to reach out,” Baer said. “Talk to people, learn about what they do. A lot of their advice was about trying new things and how to use LinkedIn effectively, as well.”

Baer used LinkedIn to look for internships and find alumni at companies she wanted to work at. Now, she’s using LinkedIn to find her peers she will be working with this summer at BCPM.

Her advice?

“Don’t be afraid to reach out,” Baer said. “Spartans are always willing to help you. Don’t give up. I started applying in September and I just accepted this internship within the past month. Everything happens for a reason. Once I interviewed with BCPM, the process took only six days. So don’t give up and don’t get down on yourself. Always keep trying.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Communication Senior Selected as Speaker at 2017 Convocation

Posted on: April 10, 2017
Matt_photo

Matthew St. Germain

Graduation day is an experience that college students think about often – whether it be with excitement for the future or perhaps a fear of the unknown. However, before they cross the stage and turn their tassels, some of the university’s finest representatives offer them words of wisdom as they transition to alumni and seek refuge in the real world.

One of those people is Matthew St. Germain, a communication senior from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and this year’s Convocation Student Speaker for the Class of 2017.

Selected by the Associated Students of Michigan State University among other student applicants, St. Germain hopes to give the graduating class, family and friends a very “Matt-like” speech, he said.

“People can expect some pensive thoughts tempered with a little goofiness and inspiration. My hope is to make this significant life event even more enjoyable and memorable, and to send my fellow students off with an encouraging ‘hoorah!’” said St. Germain. “It is an honor to represent the graduating Class of 2017, and I hope to give a speech worthy of their world-class accomplishments.”

St. Germain is heavily involved in university life as a member of the University Academic Hearing Board, an undergraduate researcher, an intern at the MSU Federal Credit Union, a previous member of the Spartan Marching Band, RHS Representative as well as an apprentice of the University Carillonneur at Beaumont Tower.

“My co-workers know me as ‘Smiley,’ and I do my best to learn something new every day. I try to live very intentionally, and be grateful for the smallest things in life. I believe every moment of every day is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and be the change you wish to see in others, and ultimately, the world,” said St. Germain. “I am never afraid to be my goofy self, but I also work extremely hard to demonstrate love and kindness to all. It may be cheesy, but I believe that something as simple as a genuine smile has the potential to turn someone's life around.”

He hopes to someday take his talents and enthusiasm into a future of helping others as a member of the Peace Corps or possibly working in developing countries on community and environmental sustainability. His goals might even provoke him to consider running for elected office, he said. St. Germain will enroll for the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Program in Communication with a specialization in Non-Profit Fundraising in the Fall of 2017.

Michigan State University’s Spring Convocation ceremony will take place on Friday, May 5 at 1 p.m. at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

By Savannah Swix

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Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s Programs Offer Undergraduates Connection to Higher Education at MSU

Posted on: March 31, 2017

bamaStudents in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University are offered unique experiences and opportunities during their undergraduate years. From top-tier faculty to international competitions, state-of-the-art technology, innovative learning spaces and reoccurring networking events, it’s no wonder that many students want to stick around to continue their education.

With the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s programs at Michigan State University, undergraduate students from across ComArtSci – including journalism, advertising + public relations, communication and media and information – can apply to complete their master’s degree in just one year.

The programs allow students to use nine credits from undergraduate courses toward receiving their master’s degree – cutting the two years often required to receive a master’s in half.

Constantinos Coursaris heads the Department of Media and Information’s Linked B.A.-M.A. program. He said the faculty who contribute their knowledge and resources to the program are a major advantage for students to consider when thinking about applying.

He added that students learn “the professional demands of not only today’s, but also tomorrow’s, workplace that leverages the power of media and information – from game design and the creative arts, to user experience and the management of information and communication technologies.”

In the classroom, Linked B.A.-M.A. students often apply their growing knowledge and skills to hands-on work created for real-world clients. Celina Wanek is currently enrolled in the media and information program for media management and said working with her classmates to develop client-ready projects for organizations outside of Michigan State University has been her favorite part.

I would highly encourage (other students) to apply,” said Wanek. “It's definitely a full year of work but knowing that it's just a year and being almost done is incredibly rewarding.”

Linda Good, director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations, said these programs are for students dedicated to the pursuit of higher education and aiming to increase their value as professionals in their industries.

“As they seek positions that may not require a master’s degree, having the master’s degree gives them an edge over students that don’t have it. They’ve only added a year, basically, to their studies and they enhanced their knowledge base, their experience base and their network by completing the Linked Bachelor’s-Master’s degree (program).”

For more information about all of the Linked B.A.-M.A. programs, click here.

By Savannah Swix

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ComArtSci student landed internship at Traverse City media company

Posted on: February 16, 2017

kathryn mcLavryCommunication senior Kathryn McLravy immersed herself in the Northern Michigan culture this past summer, as a marketing intern for MyNorth Media in Traverse City. MyNorth Media is a media company that shares stories and photos of life in Northern Michigan, including its publication of print issues such as Traverse Magazine, wedding issues and food issues.

McLravy helped facilitate relationships with other companies in the Traverse City area, planned events and the coordination of other daily and weekly tasks.

“A lot of what I worked on was marketing that MyNorth Media was a part of the local community in Traverse City,” McLravy said. “I would work on how to improve the local hotel advertising and tell them about events that were coming up. It was all about having a symbiotic relationship with others in the community.”

She liked how MyNorth Media wanted to give back to the Traverse City community, not only for tourists, but connecting the community together as a whole. McLravy also enjoyed being up north for the entire summer.

“I actually have a cottage in Northern Michigan, so I knew of MyNorth and the Traverse Magazine,” McLravy said. “It was really cool because whenever I mentioned to someone that I was interning at MyNorth, they would recognize the website and magazine as a good resource for restaurants and events going on in the area.”

MyNorth had posted about the position on their website last spring and McLravy reached out via email and by phone when it took some time to hear back.

“Being persistent and really wanting it definitely paid off in the end,” McLravy said. “I think showing that I was very interested in the position helped. I wasn’t calling everyday, but emailing once in awhile, saying I was looking forward to hearing from them and connecting their company to my experience in Northern Michigan.

The biggest thing she learned during her internship is that there is a strong sense of community surrounding the Traverse City area.

“I didn’t realize the extent of MyNorth’s community involvement,” McLravy said. “MyNorth really tries to connect local businesses with each other and I just learned how connected everything truly is. There is just so much to offer in this area that I didn’t realize.”

Working on email newsletters and learning how to reach out and communicate with others made McLravy interested in this research.

“I thought I would be more interested in event planning,” McLravy said. “But I found through my internship with MyNorth that I actually had more of an interest in the behind the scenes projects and research and how to create the best relationships with local companies.”

McLravy also learned the importance of being persistent when it comes to creating partnerships. It’s not as simple as just asking. It takes working out benefits between both companies and establishing an effective language.

Her advice? Visit the ComArtSci Career Center and ask for help.

“As someone who also works in the career center, there are so many resources people can take advantage of,” McLravy said. “Even just getting your resume looked at is a good step. There is always someone there to help you. If you need advice about something, don’t be afraid to ask. People are afraid of being too forward, but it’s okay to ask for help.”

By Meg Dedyne

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Communication senior blends two passions into one internship

Posted on: January 26, 2017

laurentamboerPassionate about the environment doesn’t even begin to describe communication senior Lauren Tamboer and the work she is doing as a communications intern at MSU Sustainability.

She is pursuing a minor in environmental and sustainability studies, a decision that she said was inspired by her father.

“My Dad has definitely had an influence on my interest in the environment,” Tamboer said. “He was always asking, ‘What tree is this?’ ‘What animal is that?’,” Tamboer said. “The environmental classes (at MSU) also keep my interest ... I hope to dedicate my career in some type of way to the study of sustainability.”

The internship with MSU Sustainability is a year-long position. Tamboer said she has already learned so much. She runs all of the “Be Spartan Green” social media accounts, developing content and monitoring channels. She also creates the content for the newsletter that goes out every month. She contributes a story of her own to the newsletter, which requires her to research and brainstorm as well as interview a subject matter expert.

Sometimes, she interviews professors or researchers for these stories. They are all based on environmental topics, community engagement and sustainability.

“I have a really strong personal connection to sustainability, which makes this job fun for me,” Tamboer said. “The environment is one of the issues I care most about and one of the most pressing issues in the world. Our generation is really receptive to these issues and there is a lot of research being done here at MSU. Seeing other people’s passion about it, gives me passion about it, too.”

Her passion led her to seek out more information and eventually to her internship.

“I followed ‘Be Spartan Green’ on social media and they always keep all of their channels updated with positions,” Tamboer said. “I wanted an internship that combined my passions for communication and the environment and when I heard about this job and the content I would be writing, this sounded exactly like what I was looking for.”

Tamboer found the job on MySpartanCareer, the career network website replaced by Handshake, and formally applied.

“When they offered me the job, I accepted right away,” Tamboer said. “I knew it would be a good fit.”

In addition to working on issues that matter so much to her, she said her favorite part of the job is the people.

“They really make it,” Tamboer said. “Everything is collaborative and they value my opinion. I know that it’s okay to try things out and make mistakes. When other people care about sustainability, it makes the collaboration so worthwhile.”

For those who don’t exactly know what sustainability means, Tamboer describes the term as living a lifestyle using resources in a way that allows future generations to use our future resources.

“We cover water, transportation and campus environment. Sustainability on campus is the ultimate goal,” Tamboer said. “We focus on the community message of sustainability and send the message out to university facilities. We also try to focus on including students in the sustainability conversation so they can share their own impact on campus.”

Tamboer said this internship has solidified that she wants to further pursue environmental communications. This field keeps her excited about a future career. Her advice for searching for that perfect job or internship is to be selective.

“It’s about paying close attention to where you would want to work and what content they are creating,” Tamboer said. “It’s challenging to find something that blends all of your passions together, but it definitely comes around if you just keep looking.”

By Meg Dedyne

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MSU alum walks into strategic sector of Campbell Ewald

Posted on: January 18, 2017

In the advertising industry, it can be tricky for students to decide on the concentration that best suits their skillset or interests. From creative to production, account, strategy and more, each team comes together as one to make up an agency and make the magic happen for clients. For 2014 communications grad Ken Walker, he credits a specific class that he took as an undergrad at ComArtSci, ADV 342: “Account Planning and Research,” for pointing him in the direction that led to his position today at Campbell Ewald, an advertising agency in Detroit.

“Initially, I didn’t understand the different departments and their roles in an agency as an undergrad,” said Walker. “I think in order for me to discover my niche, it took different courses that were tailored toward each aspect and component that an agency needs. That makes the ADV courses more valuable, because working as an account person, you learn what every department does, which that in itself has its own value to your growth in this industry.”

“Planning” for the future

After interning as an account executive for a couple years at a local agency in Okemos, Walker landed a position post-graduation as a strategic planner at Campbell Ewald on the Cadillac account. With this role, his hope to “be the voice of the consu14117718_10207414730347698_5314308850025772459_nmer” came to life, for he is now in a department that is more hands-on and he has a bigger input on a campaign’s augmentation.

“I knew right a way that I didn’t want to be an account person after working as an intern, because I wanted to have the ability to give some insight or thought when it comes to creating ads,” said Walker. “If you’re a thinker, I think planning is always a good choice, but if you have some ability to use some level of persuasion, then an approach with more research involved is your saving ground.”

A strategy for strategy

In the words of Walker, strategy is the ability to give an insight from a point-of-view that the client, the account team and creative team hasn’t thought of yet. The challenge of this is that consumer behaviors are constantly evolving, but it’s up to you to find a new, strategic way that makes sense for the campaign’s message and target.

“The key to strategy and planning is curiosity. Your curiosity is what makes you better, and it causes you to always ask ‘why’,” Walker said. “You can challenge research that way, and become more equipped by constantly finding more useful insights out of the data.”

Walker continued, “Strategic planning is all about connecting the dots and bringing everything together. Everybody has an opinion, but you can inspire effective creative in ways that encapsulates everybody’s thoughts if done the right way.”

Life in the agency

The culture in an agency is very different from that of your “average corporate America role,” but Walker states that the fast-paced atmosphere never allows for a dull moment.

“Advertising, as a whole, is an industry that is easy going,” Walker, said. “My favorite thing about working at Campbell Ewald is how highly collaborative it is. The agency is one of the few that promotes an open architecture (which) helps inspire us all, no matter the department.”

Everybody brings their own personal story and skillset to the workplace, too, according to Walker, which makes it a special place to be and create.

“Diversity is important in this industry. (Campbell Ewald is) actively improving the ways that we educate each other about our differences and how they make us who we are,” he said. “I think a lot of the effective work that our agency has created (i.e. the recent Find Your Words campaign for Kaiser Permanente) has been mindful of different cultural tensions, because ultimately we want to compete with culture, not advertising.”

Advice for the aspiring

Just like many students toward the end of their college careers, Walker felt lost in terms of how to approach finding where he belonged in the advertising industry. Based on his experiences, he has a couple of useful tips for students that are about to graduate.

“I can attest that MSU has the best advertising department. It is both robust and challenging, which will teach and prepare you for all aspects of this industry,” said Walker. “The courses are there to help you find your way, but you must be resourceful.”

Walker states that it is up to the student to define their future.

“It’s your job to be proactive enough to talk to your professors on a personal level, because you are part of a network where Spartans are literally all over the world. If you learn how to be resourceful and proactive at such a young age in college, that persistence is only going to help you build life-long useful connections.”

For more information about Campbell Ewald and the work they do, visit here.

By Emmy Virkus

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