If you think about the Smith, Lasswell, and Casey statement that those of us who study communication investigate “who says what, through what channels (media) of communication, to whom, [and] what will be the results,” you should realize how truly complex a task we perform (121). While we’ll explore many examples later in the book, we want to briefly highlight a few examples of what you might study if you are interested in communication as a field of study.
Studying communication is exciting because there are so many possibilities on which to focus. For example, you might study elements of the history and use of YouTube (Soukup), the use of deception in texting (Wise and Rodriguez), college students’ “guilty pleasure” media use (Panek), how sons and daughters communicate disappointment (Miller et al.), an examination of motherhood in lesbian-headed households (Koenig et al.), or daughters’ perceptions of communication with their fathers (Dunleavy et al.).
The above examples demonstrate just a small taste of what we can examine through the lens of communication. In reality, studying communication has almost limitless possibilities. That’s what makes this field so dynamic and exciting! When you think about the infinite number of variables we can study, as well as the infinite number of communication contexts, the task of studying “who says what, through what channels (media) of communication, to whom, [and] what will be the results” is open to countless possibilities. The study of communication has proven helpful to us as social beings as we work to better understand the complexities of our interactions and relationships.
As a student taking an introductory communication course, you might be thinking, “Why does this matter to me?” One reason it is important for you to study and know communication is that these skills will help you succeed in personal, social, and professional situations. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that “college students who wish to separate themselves from the competition during their job search would be wise to develop proficiencies most sought by employers, such as communication, interpersonal, and teamwork skills.” Whether you major in communication or not, the more you understand communication, the greater potential you have to succeed in all aspects of your life. Another important reason for studying communication is that it can lead to a variety of career opportunities.
Career-Focused Communication Skills
The kind of skills developed by students who study communication are highly valued by all kinds of employers. Courses and activities in the academic field of communication both teach and make use of the skills ranked consistently high by employers. Students who study communication are ready to excel in a wide variety of careers. Forbes listed “The 10 Skills Employers Want in 20-Something Employees.” Look to see how many relate directly to what you would learn from a course such as ours:
- Ability to work in a team
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems
- Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
- Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
- Ability to obtain and process information
- Ability to analyze quantitative data
- Technical knowledge related to the job
- Proficiency with computer software programs
- Ability to create and/or edit written reports
- Ability to sell and influence others