Communication Studies

COM Alumni Spotlight

Caroline Merrill

Caroline Merrill at work


Caroline Merrill

Graduation Date: December 2012
Position Title:

Managing Director of Accounts & Projects


The Forté Institute

Current Location: Wilmington, NC

What was your favorite class in the COM Department? Why?

This is a tough question! It is a combo of two classes:

  • Communication Consulting with Dr. Weber
  • IMC 2 with Dr. Persuit

Communication Consulting taught me how to actively listen during conversations which sounds like a simple task but you would be surprised at the number of people who communicate well but tend to be bad listeners. IMC 2 was the class that prepared me the most for life after college. The practical application/client work that we completed during IMC 2 gave me a taste for what to expect once I got a job. I find myself using the tools I learned during both of these classes every single day in my job.

What organizations/groups were you involved in while you were a student?

  • CSS (Communication Studies Society)
  • DIS (Direct Independent Study) with Dr. Weber
  • Team Teal (Sports Marketing fan rewards program)

Did you complete a departmental internship? If so, please list your internship agency.

I completed two internships during my time in the COM Department, but they were not for credit. I interned for the Philadelphia Eagles at their 2012 Training Camp and then interned in the UNCW Sports Marketing Department. My internship with the Eagles happened during Summer 2012 and my UNCW Sports Marketing internship started when I returned from Eagles camp and ended when I graduated. I got very lucky and was hired as a temporary employee of the Sports Marketing Department until I landed my first job in May of 2013.

How are you using the skills/concepts learned from your COM degree in your life?

I think the real question is what skills/concepts am I not using?! The Forté Institute provides a Communication Style survey to over 6,000 clients globally (including the COM Studies Department) so I am analyzing a variety of individual and team communication styles every single day. My job allows me to utilize so many different skills from: interpersonal communication, conflict management/mediation, quantitative/qualitative research (HELLO COM 200!), solutions focused communication consulting, public speaking, strategic IMC plans… basically the entire COM Studies catalogue can be seen and/or heard at any given time at Forté headquarters! Having a COM degree and working for Forté has provided me with a high level of self and situational awareness.

What are your proudest accomplishments since graduating from UNCW?

  • Gala Auction Committee Co-chair for a local nonprofit in Wilmington
  • 2015 COM Studies Day panelist
  • Joining the organization “Women on Fire”
  • Becoming an Aunt to the coolest nephew ever

Communication is. . .

...a never ending balancing act that takes time, practice, patience and learning to actively listen.

What advice would you give current COM majors?

When you think you have found the avenue that you want to focus on, find job descriptions in that field and then find the correlating classes that match the job descriptions. This will help you figure out what additional classes you need to take like graphic design, coding, video production, etc. It is better to go into the job with a lot of tools in your toolbox then already feeling behind. Also, when you start looking for jobs, keep an open mind. The great part about a COM degree is that you can apply it in so many different ways in a variety of sectors. Use that to your advantage!

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