Professor’s Corner with Dr. Tim Barney

barney-richmond-picRhetoric and Communications professor Tim Barney wants students taking his courses to understand practical applications for the theoretical material they learn in class.  That’s why, in an elections course he taught last year, students wrote advertisements and scripts for political campaigns — something Barney did while working as a copywriter during graduate school.

With spring break quickly approaching many students are excited for a week off from class to head somewhere warm, or at least warmer than Richmond. This break provides vital time for career planning so make sure you take advantage! No matter where you are in job or internship processes here are some tips to make the most of your timeHow does a degree in Rhetoric and Communications translate into a career path?

“Having a Rhetoric degree can make you a strong candidate for a number of jobs,” Barney says. “Communication skills are one of the main things [employers] look for regardless of industry.”

The strong writing and speaking skills Rhetoric and Communications students learn are applicable to the public relations industry, communications within corporate settings, social justice and nonprofit work, politics and lobbying, and journalism, just to name a few, Barney says.

But the opportunities don’t stop there. Barney believes that just because a student doesn’t have detailed knowledge of an industry, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t qualified.

While industry-specific skills can be learned in an office, “You can’t teach writing and speaking on the job,” he says.

Barney cites an example of a student he spoke with recently who was interested in interning at a record label. They talked about communications and public relations within the music business. Another student he has kept in touch with since she graduated is writing promotional material for a theater company and loving her work, he says.

In addition, many Rhetoric students go on to get graduate degrees in communication studies to make them more competitive in the job market, or seek new opportunities, like an MBA to add a business component to their undergraduate degree, Barney says.

No matter the career goal, Barney believes his students can achieve it. “Richmond students have drive and motivation,” he says.

How can Richmond students go above and beyond to achieve their career goals?

Barney’s advice? Be well rounded. Have unique experiences. Take courses within different departments. Study abroad.

Beyond what happens in the classroom, he says, “We want our students to be connected to the world.”


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