Master's In Communication Management

On my search for a graduate program I tried two courses in the Master's In Communication Management (MCM) program at the college where I was working.  

I was attracted to the program for a few reasons.  It reminded me a little of my undergraduate degree, Human and Organizational Development, because it looked at organizational dynamics around communication.  I was also intrigued at the idea of learning more about how communication worked.

But it was clear almost immediately that the program just wasn't a good fit for me.  I don't want to criticize the program; I know a lot of people who got a lot out of it.  But the program just wasn't a good fit for me.

In my first class most of our work revolved around how corporations communicate bad news internally and externally.  That seems like an appropriate topic for future communication professionals, but it wasn't a very good fit for my style.  My approach was always to be as straight forward as possible, explain the issue clearly, acknowledge the problems and take appropriate responsibility for the actions of the fictional organizations we were supposed to be representing.  My assignments always came back with comments like "You can't say it like that," "You're being too negative," "Try to to put it into a more positive light."  

One of our assignments was to write a memo to the staff about organization-wide layoffs at our fictional organization.  I wanted to say "We know that these changes are devastating for those directly affected, and strike at the morale of our remaining staff..," and I couldn't find any way that felt honest and sincere to put a more positive spin on what was happening.  The feedback on my paper wasn't especially good.

I did learn some interesting things in the class, however.  It was helpful to learn about the basics of developing a communication plan, and how to use communication tools like SWOT.  One of the most interesting parts of class was a case study we did around the communications plan used for the introduction of the artificial heart.  It was fascinating to learn how complex it was to manage all the communications involved, and how communications intersected with issues of medicine and ethics.

Although I wasn't very satisfied with my first MCM class, I still thought I might be interested in the program and decided to take a second course.  I really expected to enjoy the second course, which was about corporate community outreach programs.  These are efforts by companies/organizations to support community efforts.  This can involve anything from sponsoring local events to encouraging employee volunteering to close partnerships with nonprofit organizations.  I had always been interested in these programs, and had thought I might be interested in coordinating that kind of work.

I didn't enjoy the class, but I did learn a lot.  I learned that I would probably not enjoy that kind of work, at all!  The course focused on how community outreach efforts were always part of a company's bottom line, and were always considered from how they contributed to the organizational profits.  We looked at some cased where corporations were doing really interesting work, but we also looked at lots of cases where the work was shallow, insincere or completely self-serving.

I learned a lot from both of my MCM courses, and I'm glad I took them.  But what I learned was that I probably wouldn't be good at communications management.  In some ways communication professionals are like lawyers.  Their job is to present their clients/employers in the best possible light.  That effort requires compromises that I'm just not comfortable making.

*Note about Assignments* While I do have some assignments from my MCM classes, I don't think I'll post them.  I don't think they're representative of my best work, nor do they paint an especially meaningful picture of the program.
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