Producing competent and well-rounded graduates that pursue careers in a wide variety of fields is one of the Communication Studies Departments' biggest strengths. Not only do alumni thrive in diverse environments, they positively impact those environments with the knowledge they have gained at UNT. These characteristics are exemplified in Caroline Baugh and Heather Miesen, two Communication Studies alumnus who have not only brought their gifts to various places in the United States, but who have expanded their personal and professional horizons in Europe.
|Caroline Baugh, B.A. 2011|
Baugh is currently living in Paris, France, while Miesen resides in London, England. While Baugh and Miesen were both excited to begin their pursuits abroad, they have different ways in which they got there and various reasons why they continue to stay.
After graduating from UNT in May 2011, Baugh began working at The Hockaday School in Dallas where she served as the Development Department Assistant. From there, Baugh became the Director of Annual Giving. While acting as the Director of Annual Giving, Baugh raised over $2.5 million a year for the School, and participated in volunteer management.
"I worked at Hockaday for five years and from there moved to my next post in Paris, France, where I am currently the Associate Director of Development at the American School of Paris. I do the school's fundraising, volunteer management, alumni relations, and event planning," Baugh said.
Baugh recalls that she had always dreamt of living in Paris, but did not believe it would become a reality for her until after she decided to utilize an international recruiter to search for opportunities abroad.
"The firm put me up for a few different posts worldwide, and I actually almost ended up in London. Then the Paris job came my way, and it was too good to pass up!" Baugh said. "After an intense few months of interviews I flew to Paris for my onsite, two-day interview and was offered the job on the spot. I took a few weeks to decide and now, here I am - a year and a half later! It was the hardest decision I've ever made but now I can't imagine not being in Paris."
|Heather Meiesen, B.A. 2007|
While Baugh found herself abroad with the help of an international recruiter and a passion for Paris, Miesen was drawn to London. She recently applied to and was admitted to the London School of Economics and Political Science in order to pursue an MS in Human Resources and Organizations. Miesen discovered that she was drawn to the complexity behind the area of benefits within Human Resources while serving as a member of her former employer's benefits team.
"The Affordable Care Act was being discussed and health insurance was at the beginning of the Obama-era changes," Miesen said. "I found the environment of change to be particularly interesting. The daily updates, predictions, and debate kept my daily tasks from being routine."
It was from these experiences, as well as enjoying the few months she had previously spent in London, that Miesen realized she wanted to make a bigger career change.
"I want to shift my focus to company culture management during times of extreme change. The United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union created a rare opportunity to study organizational change on an unprecedented scale. The details of the departure are still being negotiated, but will certainly have an impact on the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the UK and EU," Miesen said. "I spent a few months living in London last year. I thoroughly enjoyed the ease of traveling to nearby countries and learning the nuances of the British culture. London offers an international community with endless opportunities to learn about culture, the arts, and to remember to look in the opposite direction when you cross the road!"
Landing positions and acceptance abroad took extremely hard work and dedication on Baugh and Miesen's part; however, they feel that the time they spent at UNT in the Communication Studies department greatly shaped the way their journeys have progressed.
"My degree in Communication Studies has helped me in extraordinary ways professionally. I do a lot of writing in my career. The writing comes easy to me after spending so much time in the Comm Department learning how to write and honing in on certain writing expertise" Baugh said. "I focused my studies on Interpersonal Communication and have found this to be very rewarding for management - I have a good sense of how to read people, which has helped exponentially to be a better manager of my team."
Miesen feels similarly when thinking about how Communication Studies has benefited her, stating "I believe a background in Communication Studies gave me an edge over other applicants during the interview process and in the workplace. Clear and concise communication is the key element in creating a successful and healthy organization culture. The value of constructive communication cannot be overemphasized regardless of the role, industry, and size of organization."
Baugh and Miesen have adjusted well to their lives abroad, but UNT has a special place in their memories. They urge people to cherish the time, freedom, and resources that are abundant at UNT, while also keeping an eye on the future.
"Creating a plan for your future is important," Miesen said. "Tasks set to a timeline can help you achieve goals that are meaningful. Ultimately, you will excel at what you enjoy. Do not be afraid to make changes to ensure your goals remain rewarding. The ability to be resilient will serve you well throughout your life."
As their course loads become more challenging, it can be easy for students to forget the world of opportunity that surrounds them each day at UNT. Baugh urges them to recognize what is available, and cherish every aspect of it. At the end of the day, it is not only the professional connections that people form that make a difference, but the personal connections that occur between people on a human level that make the biggest impact on life, and makes everything worthwhile.
"Work hard - it WILL be worth it," Baugh says. "Use the network that is around you. Your professors and fellow students can open doors for you that you would never imagine," Baugh said. "I got my first job at Hockaday after meeting the speaker at an NCA Future Pros meeting. I remember being fascinated by her - two years later, she hired me. If I hadn't gone to that meeting, I probably wouldn't be in Paris now. She is still my mentor and a great friend. My professors were a huge help to me in helping launch my professional career. You are surrounded by opportunity but it is up to you, and only you, to launch your career. Just because you are a freshman, sophomore, junior - it is never too early to make a good impression."
-Written by Communication Studies Undergrad Emily Perez