February 19, 2020
BY ALYSSA GEHRIS ’20
A degree in communications can point you toward countless careers.
That was the message delivered by four communications alumni at their Break Through panel, The Possibilities of a Communications Degree.
Courtney Allen ’08, Megan McMullen ’02, Joseph Miscavige ’01 and Joe Palmieri ’00 all graduated from SU with a degree in public relations, yet they are all using their communications skills in completely different positions.
Palmieri is the supervisory program manager for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for the U.S Department of Homeland Security.
Self-described as “one of those students whose parents asked, ‘what do you do with that degree?’” Palmieri said he likes to encourage students who answer that question too.
“You can do practically anything with a communications degree,” he said.
In his cybersecurity role, Palmieri takes “massive amounts of information in a very dynamic global environment and all of that information needs to be processed and packaged into one or two sentences where I only have a few minutes with the director.”
McMullen, director of development at White Plains Hospital, Briarcliff Manor, New York, admitted that her first job working in a public relations position was not a good fit for her, and so she had to learn how to transition her skills into another position.
She advised students that their career path “doesn’t have to be linear.” She credited her education and embracing networking for getting her to the position she currently holds.
“I had a lot of event planning experience from my GO program working an internship in D.C.” she said but, “when I was sitting in your shoes I had no idea that fundraising was a career I would get into.”
“There is no such thing as wasted time,” said Allen, policy analyst at the office of the Deputy Mayor for Education in Washington, D.C., adding that it is just as helpful to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like.
“I went a lot of different places to get here,” she says, “I’ve had a lot of different experiences but I would say that my communications degree has allowed me to really be able to communicate well with people, be able to write really well and all the things you have to do in nearly any profession.”
About Break Through
Break Through helps Susquehanna students to network and develop contacts with alumni and other professionals in their chosen fields. Each year in February, alumni converge on campus for the student-alumni networking conference. Alumni offer career-specific panel discussions, money management advice, résumé tips, online branding and more. Break Through is organized by Susquehanna’s Career Development Center.