This month, we interviewed Kimberly Coon, a 2012 grad of the MA in WRD program. Kim used her experiences in WRD to land an exciting job in the non-profit sector.
What was your academic and professional background prior to entering WRD?
What I focused on once I was in the WRD program was a really natural extension of what I’d spent the five or so years prior to WRD doing, which was finding ways to tell the stories non-profits are creating through their cause-based work. While I was earning my BA in Mass Communication from Anderson University, I was also studying Non-profit Leadership as a minor, doing internships with non-profit organizations, and finding ways to engage with non-profits for assignments and projects – I was always looking for an opportunity to combine my love for the third sector with my skill set and interest in communications. So after I graduated from AU, I worked in fundraising and communications at the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank and in marketing for other nonprofits. It took me all of these (wonderful) experiences across fundraising, digital and print marketing, public relations, social media, and much, much more to start formulating what my time in WRD would consist of and how I would shape the program for my goals and passions.
Describe your career & research interests as you were going through the MAWRD program. How did you customize the program to meet your needs?
The majority of my time in WRD was spent studying writing and composition as it intersects with the non-profit sector. As an example, I took Lisa Dush’s course on digital storytelling, which meant working directly with professionals at Chicago non-profit organizations to discover how both the individual and organization could benefit from the digital storytelling process. A less obvious example might be technical writing, which helped me gain a better sense of user experience in all communications (not just technical) and think critically about my agency as a writer.
How have you used your experiences from WRD in your current position? How did WRD prepare you for the professional world?
Immediately after completing my time in WRD, I began working in what would become my current position as marketing manager at The Damien Center, Indiana’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization. Since I’m a one-woman marketing show in this position, writing doesn’t always take center stage, but what I learned in WRD is that composition can be writing and so much more. I write blogs, social media posts, email newsletters, and so on, but I also compose through designing our annual reports, creating event materials, or speaking to a group about what The Damien Center is and does. While I wasn’t planning on going immediately back into marketing after finishing WRD, I’m not the same marketer I was prior to WRD. I have a broader (and better) understanding of the potential my role has for my organization to harness the power of rhetoric and communication for good.
What are your plans for the future? How will you continue to use your MAWRD degree?
My plans for the future are yet unknown, but I do see myself continuing on the path I’ve started on, seeking out opportunities to write/create/compose for the betterment of my community, a particular cause, or something I’ve not yet discovered. Whether I stay in the non-profit sector as my career progresses or explore other ways, and there are many, to approach cause-based work, my experience in WRD will certainly continue to inform my work. Words and how we use them truly shape our experience in the world, so as a communicator, I will keep working to create and disseminate stories that do the good kind of shaping.
Any advice for current and future WRD students?
My best advice for WRD students or those considering the program is to find out what motivates you to dig deeper and then study that. The MAWRD is a vast program that can be customized to your particular interests and goals, but you have to be the one to direct that. That’s not to say you can’t study a range of topics or take varied courses, but use those to learn more about yourself and where you’d like to be after you finish the MAWRD, then push your studies (courses, projects, internships, research, etc.) toward those goals.