What Can I Do with My $240,000 Degree? From a Confused College Senior to a Budding Career at Top-Tier Tech Company
by Ashley Cook
Every soon-to-be college graduate can relate to the panic that sets in right before graduation; the odd mix of anxiety and excitement toward the next chapter in life. USF Communication Studies alumna Hannah Decker, class of 2016, remembers this feeling all too well. During a recent interview, Decker reflected on her-post graduation journey from being a confused communication studies senior at the University of San Francisco to landing a position with San Francisco’s Yelp:
Describe how you felt about your next steps following graduation from USF.
Decker: I was nervous. After high school, I knew that I was going to college, but no one tells you what exactly you need to do after college. I had to decide for myself and make it happen. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or where I was going to go. I was lucky to have come across a career opportunity at Yelp via USF’s Spring Career Fair. It was such a relief to secure a job before walking in May. Though I felt I got lucky, I worked very hard to find the position and to prepare myself for success in a well-known and influential organization such as Yelp.
How has your education prepared you for your career?
Decker: At first, I thought communication studies was the same as communications. I was expecting to learn about media operations but I quickly realized the two are different fields of study. However, I fell in love with the major, faculty and course subjects. Many skills and concepts I mastered as communications studies scholars are extremely applicable in the workplace. I believe that my studies help me to master active listening, understanding and critiquing power dynamics and basic human communication in the workplace. Furthermore, I am able to think critically about situations, which leads to better success when working with clients.
How does the 9-5 workday differ from a day at USF? What is the most difficult part of this transition?
Decker: One of the biggest adjustments I am facing is adjusting to the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. I am still learning how to readjust my personal life around my work life. I come into the office and check my emails/schedules, and then I complete calls and do demos or “pitch on the fly”. Professional work life is very demanding, so it is important to manage your time wisely. Furthermore, I had to learn how to budget in order to afford all of my living expenses. I can’t eat out and get my nails done all the time because I have to pay my bills!
What does your position entail and what do you admire most about the company and your role?
Decker: I currently work in the sales for the Yelp Wi-Fi service. In this position I pitch, cold call–contacting a potential client for the first time–and walk clients through the purchasing process. I enjoy this position because I work directly with several small businesses, including restaurants, spa owners, and other brick-and-mortar companies. I have gained a sincere appreciation for small corporations and enjoy being able to help them expand their businesses through Yelp infrastructures. Furthermore, my supervisor is very supportive of my professional growth. She is currently assisting me in navigating the various departments within our company so that I can explore the different facets of the tech industry.
What advice would you offer to any communications studies students at USF?
Decker: Take advantage of your resources! Career Services offers a plethora of free career building tools that will truly prepare you for your first job. Also, go to office hours and learn more about your professors! We often forget they are all working professionals that have both worked in the communication/communication studies field, as well as in academia. They have a wealth of knowledge, advice and connections they can use to help you get where you want to go. They truly want their students to succeed.