How I Designed My Career with a Communication Major

Ed Brodka is a Career Design Consultant at UB’s Career Design Center.

1)   What is your educational background and how did it influence you to be in your current career?

When I started at UB I came in as a Physical Therapy (Exercise Science) major but after the first Chemistry test, I went to my academic advisor to discuss other majors. I liked the idea of a career in which I help people but realized I wanted to do this without using the natural sciences like chemistry and biology. My advisor suggested I take a career interest inventory that would help me figure out how my career interest would relate to a major. The assessment I took is much like the Focus2 (Career Interest Assessment) that any UB student can now take. My top three Themes were Social, Artistic and Enterprising, which meant I like to help people using my creativity to influence the people I help. My top three job titles that matched my career interests were 1. College Professor, 2. Social Worker, and 3. Clergy (Priest). This assessment didn’t tell me the exact job that is best for me but it helped me better understand who I am. Today, I am not a College Professor, but I do work with college students at UB. I am not a Social Worker but I do meet one-one-one with students to help them design their careers. I am not a Priest but I do pray I don’t mess students up too much when I try to help them. J

So, I knew I needed to switch my major. I chose a Joint major in Communication and Psychology. The question now was, what am I going to do with this new major? When I was a Physical Therapy major, it was easy to know; I was going to be a Physical Therapist. There are some majors that are also the name of careers, like, engineering, nursing, architecture and accounting. Most majors are not directly related to a specific career. Some students want to know for sure where their major will lead them and others are ok with a major that they can work with to design their future career. I tell students, you choose your major but you grow (or design) your career. In my case, I grew into my career not so much by the major I had but rather by the activities, I was involved in as a student.

Certainly, the role I am now in as a Career Design Consultant, I use what I learned about psychology and communication. I also went on for a Master’s degree in Communication which was helpful because in that program I had a graduate assistantship which allowed me to teach a Communication 101 so it helped me develop my teaching and communication skills which I use in my current role. And I needed a Master’s degree to qualify for the first professional role I had at UB, a Students Activities Associate.

2)  What organizations, clubs or internships were you involved in during college? How did those experiences help prepare you for your current role?

The summer after my first year at UB, I worked as Peer Advisor during the Freshmen Orientation program. It was that experience that helped me realize I love helping students one-on-one and doing presentations and public speaking. As a Peer Advisor, I used to do a presentation about registering for classes in which I juggled three tennis balls to use humor to talk about the topic. When I “accidently” dropped a ball, I would say, “sometimes you may have to drop a class if it’s not right for you, but talk to your academic advisor first.” I still try to use humor in my presentations I do in my current job.

Besides working the Summer Orientation Program, I also was a Campus Tour Guide and Resident Advisor. This work helped give me more experience working with college students. Another benefit from these on-campus jobs was that it helped network and me meet with professionals at UB. When I graduated with my Master’s degree, I was offered full time professional job in the same office I worked in when I was student. Remember, 80% of all jobs come from connections.

I also worked as a team member for weekend retreats given by the Diocese of Buffalo Youth Department. Working these retreats helped me learn skills and activities that I still use today in my current role. When I was a graduate student, I did an internship in in the Training and Development Department at what was then Marine Midland Bank. That helped me learn about training models and teaching content in a business setting. That internship also gave me a taste of what it was like to work in the banking industry, which made me realize I liked working in the higher education industry better. Sometimes it’s not so much the type of work you do but the industry that you do it in.

3)  What other advice do you have for anyone working to design a career?

Network, network, network. (Make professional friends) Meet and talk with other professionals in fields and jobs that interest you and ask about their career path (how they got started), what advice do they have for you and ask them if there is anyone else they know that could help them. Buy talking with others you hopefully, will get good advice and learn from their experiences. Another benefit is that when you meet with people (virtually, by phone or even in person) you demonstrate your good communication skills and professionalism and will make a good impression on them. The connections you make will help you in your job search and may be the reason you get your internship or job.

To find other UB alumni that you can talk with make sure you use Connect-a-Bull, where you’ll have access to hundreds of people that are in the platform who want to talk with you. LinkedIn is also a great tool to look for and set up meetings with UB alums and other professionals.

4) If a UB student wanted to talk with you, what is the best way to reach you?

Students and alumni up to one year out of UB can make an appointment with me by logging into Bullseye powered by Handshake and click on Career Center, Appointment. Look for Ed Brodka in the Staff Member box and you’ll see my availability. I am also on Connect-a-Bull so make sure you create an account and message me or request a meeting. I am always on LinkedIn so feel free to send me a personalized invitation to connect.

For more blogs like this one sent right to your inbox, subscribe to the  🎨 Arts, Design, Entertainment + Communications community.

For more blogs like this one sent right to your inbox, subscribe to the 🤲 Nonprofit, Education + Social Impact community.

By Ed Brodka
Ed Brodka Career Design Consultant