Q&A with Alumna Heather Miesen (B.A. 2009) | Communication Studies
October 31, 2017

Q&A with Alumna Heather Miesen (B.A. 2009)


Q: Could you please provide a brief summary of your career path since you graduated from UNT?

A: I worked at a company that sold radio advertising time after I first graduated as a gateway into the Advertising community. I quickly realized that was not my intended path. I went back to school to pursue a MA in Dispute Resolution. I searched for a variety of positions and ultimately found my place in Human Resources, where I have been for the past eight years. Initially I worked as an HR Assistant, until a position on the company's benefits team became available. The Affordable Care Act was being discussed and health insurance was at the beginning of the Obama-era changes. I found the environment of change to be particularly interesting. The daily updates, predictions, and debate kept my daily tasks from being routine. I was drawn to the complexity of the area of benefits within Human Resources.

Q: How has having a degree in Communication Studies helped you in the Human Resources profession?

A: 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.

Q: You were recently accepted into the London School of Economics and Political Science to pursue an MS in Human Resources and Organizations. What motivated you to make this career change?

A: My past career experience has been focused on HR benefits. 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. The policy changes will have world-wide consequences.

Q: How do you feel about relocating to London?

A: 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.

Q: How helpful was your internship in your career path?

A: Internships are an invaluable way to learn about available career paths. I think most people think of working in a traditional office setting; however, an internship is a chance to explore options. During my internship at a traditional office, I remember learning about the small, but important things such as who has an "open door" policy versus who expects me to set up an appointment. Internships are an opportunity to evaluate what you want to gain in a career, the structure of your job, and values you expect to share with your network.

Q: What were some of your favorite classes in the COMM department?

A: I have always been especially interested in interpersonal communication. I was painfully shy as a child and had to learn to be a social person. Knowing more about communication and human interaction has made me more comfortable with the process.

Q: What do you miss most about being a student at UNT?

A: I miss being in an environment that gives freedom to engage in intellectual conversation, without coming across as confrontational. Discussing taboo topics outside of the academic bubble can be perceived as inappropriate, sometimes. We should give ourselves permission to jump into sometimes controversial conversations for the sake of gaining knowledge. I think there are an increasing number of online platforms, companies, and organizations that cultivate communities that welcome innovative conversations.

Q: What advice do you have for current students in the COMM department?

A: Creating a plan for your future is important. 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.