If you’re like most students, you know the exhilarating feeling of taking your first steps toward a career path by choosing your major. While thrilling, this experience can also be a scary one. What if you make a mistake? If you’ve chosen or are thinking about a major in the Manship School, don’t second-guess yourself. A degree from the Manship School really can take you anywhere. For Zach Barnett, a 2017 political communication graduate, his Manship School degree has already taken him to Washington, D.C.
“Manship graduates do have an advantage over others. The Manship School encourages students to think outside the box and deliver results,” he said.
Barnett speaks from his own experience as a recent grad first working on Capitol Hill, then in the Administration where he serves as Special Assistant in the Office of the U.S. Small Business Administrator.
“Each day is different. It’s never dull,” he said of his role serving as a liaison between the Small Business Administration and the White House. Daily, his tasks include mapping the administrator’s travel schedule, which takes her around the nation advocating for small businesses. He also writes briefings and conducts research throughout the day. His time at the Manship School prepared him to step into this role so soon after graduation, he said.
“Everything at the Manship School is designed to introduce real world experience into the classroom in a way that’s unparalleled,” he said.
Barnett says the capstone class that Manship School students complete to graduate was especially valuable to his current career.
“My capstone class with Bob Mann was deeply intertwined with real-world politics,” he said.
As a political communication major, the capstone assignments put him and his classmates in the role of hypothetical campaign managers. They spent their class periods responding to issues in real-time, writing press releases, building websites and otherwise managing content related to their candidates. These training exercises helped prepare Barnett to fulfill these functions in the fast-paced real world.
“In my position, we don’t have a 24-hour news cycle, we have a 24-minute one,” he said.
Barnett said he was drawn to the Manship School initially because of its small class sizes and expert faculty, many of whom are not only excellent teachers but also enjoyed successful careers in public relations, journalism or politics. This further increased the relevance of each Manship School class, he said, because they were led by experts familiar with the career areas they taught.
Beyond that, the strong Manship School community provides the support students need to succeed, he said.
“Top to bottom, from the dean to the professors and staff, everyone knows each other. I was able to build strong relationships both inside and outside the classroom,” he said.
So how can you, a current or future Manship School student, make the most of your time at the Manship School?
“Don’t focus just on your GPA, even though that’s important, but really pay attention to mastering the content of your courses,” Barnett said, “Every class at the Manship School is relevant to your future career.”
Barnett also recommends students get used to asking their peers and colleagues to edit and proof their writing, and to grab every opportunity to get experience in their desired fields, especially by way of internships.
“Don’t say no to any opportunities. You never know where even local or random opportunities might lead you,” said Barnett.
Article by graduate student Mary Chiappetta