COM Alumni Spotlight

Sean McBride

rivenbark
Sean (blue shirt) coaching the District Commander during an interview
with Fox News Reporter John Roberts

Name:

Sean McBride

Graduation Date: May 2009
Position Title:

Public Affairs/Social Media Specialist

Company:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, Charleston, SC

Current Location: Charleston, SC

What was your favorite class in the COM Department? Why?
My favorite class in the COM Dept was probably Rhetoric of Faith Healing with Dr. Pullum. While I loved all of my other classes for their practical nature (and use them on a daily basis now), Rhetoric of Faith Healing was previously unknown to me and I learned a lot about communication in a way I hadn’t previously thought. Learning how religious faith healers used their verbal and non-verbal communication skills to persuade their audience and followers to do the things they did and believe the things they did was fascinating.

What organizations/groups were you involved in while you were a student?
While I was a student, I was a member of the Communication Studies Society and served as the organization’s president in 2008-2009. I thoroughly enjoyed aiding in helping young students to sharpen their communication skills and help them choose a path through communication studies. Many students were unaware of what focus area they were interested in, or if they even enjoyed communication studies, so enabling students with knowledge during Make the Most of Your Major, Project Protégé, and weekly meetings was extremely rewarding.

Did you complete a departmental internship? If so, please list your internship agency.
I completed an internship with Talk PR, Inc. This small, local public relations agency was my first look at the controlled chaos that is public relations. I learned to improve my writing skills and aided in writing press releases, blog entries, brochures, event planning and more.

How are you using the skills/concepts learned from your COM degree in your life?
I am now a public relations specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the skills I learned in college prepared me a lot for what I do now. I spend most of my days writing magazine articles for our quarterly publication, writing press releases, creating content for our Facebook, Twitter and website. Learning to write for your audience was one of the biggest things I learned in school that I use every day. In all seriousness, you learn so much about how to do your job from physical trial and error while on the job. But the foundations I based myself on from my communication studies degree put me heads above the rest. When tackling a writing project, I am able to focus in on my intended audience and explain up front what the main point of the story is and focus my information around that.

What are your proudest accomplishments since graduating from UNCW?
My proudest accomplishment is probably being offered my first full-time job. When I graduated, I only had a summer internship lined up at a PR agency called 919 Marketing in Raleigh. Near the end of that internship, they offered me a job as a full-time contractor. I enjoyed this work, but was offered a full-time, permanent job opportunity with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Charleston eight months later. My other proud accomplishments were being published in an international magazine and being asked to speak at two conferences about social media and internal communications, which both garnered press coverage.

Communication is. . .
Communication is being able to clearly and concisely portray the message you want conveyed to your audience that leaves them more knowledgeable than before.

What advice would you give current COM majors?
Be prepared. Life after college is harder than you might think, especially trying to secure your first job. Having your portfolio up to date and ready to show makes a big difference. I took my portfolio with me to every interview I had and it really impressed my interviewers. Being able to tangibly show people the work that you have done makes a big difference over people who only talk about what they can do. And make sure you have fun. Having a job is important, but if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing, it isn’t worth it. There will always be another job out there. So always be looking and never give up on what you want.

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