Chris Jones graduated with a BS in advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007. He earned his M.A. in New Media Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, & Discourse at DePaul in 2011. He presented “Hip-Hop in Second Life” at the 2011 WRD graduate conference, for which he won Best Presentation in the New Media Studies category. Chris began working in communications for Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago after taking his degree.
What have you been doing professionally since you earned your degree?
Chapin Hall is a policy research center focused on several areas, such as foster care, school systems, workforce development, and child maltreatment prevention. I manage our website, write and edit content, run our listserv and social media channels, plan events and seminars, and occasionally do web and print design.
What is a typical day “on the job” for you?
Today actually illustrated the variety of tasks I’ll do on any given day. I did some print design work on an invitation, updated website content, planned an all-staff memo, posted links to new research on social media, and began writing our next email newsletter. We have a small but dedicated team at my office so I end up wearing a lot of hats.
How did your education from DePaul influence what you’re doing now?
The best influences came from having intellectual conversations with my professors and instructors. The nice thing about the NMS program is that it encourages a lot of self- directed, out-of-classroom study. I liked that I would find myself constantly swapping articles with my instructors, not necessarily because they were directly related to our coursework, but often because of a mutual interest in the field.
What were the most helpful courses you took in NMS?
I found courses with Dr. Ceraso extremely useful for learning design practice and theory. His graphic design course improved my skills tremendously. Dr. Dush’s courses on storytelling were also beneficial, because in the information age, communicators have so much to consider: What medium do you use? What is the tone and rhetoric of your messaging? How do you encourage (or discourage in some cases) a dialogue? Those strategic thinking skills are important because things change so quickly—10 years ago no one would have thought communicating effectively in 140 characters would be needed. Today, it’s essential.
What advice would you give to a NMS student who would one day like to work in a job similar to yours?
In general, we’re seeing a trend where communications professionals have to be able to engage with their audience in a variety of media. To that end, it’s important to be as well rounded as possible. I think it’s vital to learn how to code and design, but even more important to be a good writer. I also would advise future NMS students to read obsessively. Communicators in the 21st century have to be able to adapt to trends and technologies that move at a breakneck pace, but we also need to be able to think outside the box, so read more than just blogs on social media and web design. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your alumni for assistance and advice. We’re happy to help!