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Q&A with Alumna Dana Edwards

Dana Edwards
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HIGHER ED

Dana works in higher ed, so the IMC program was perfect for her. Which program is right for you?

Dana Edwards (IMC, 2018) is the Strategic Communications Manager for the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Why did you choose the WVU IMC program?

I had actually done quite a bit of research trying to find the best graduate school program for me. I came across Integrated Marketing Communications programs, so I started looking more into programs like that and I saw that WVU was the first online program, which was great because I wanted to continue working full time. I was living in Tallahassee, Florida, and Florida State had a program as well, but it was not completely online. I saw that WVU was highly ranked and the classes seemed more interesting compared to other program’s classes.

The flexibility was also very attractive to me. During my time in the program, I ended up moving from Tallahassee to Gainesville for my job, and I was able to continue my classes without any hiccup. I like how you can do things at your own pace. I could say, "Hey, I’m going to be out of town at a conference, can I turn in my assignments early?" and the instructors would accommodate that.

What is your favorite part of working in higher education marketing?

I really like working with students and sharing their stories and accomplishments. I also like being able to market education, which is really important to me. I think it’s one of the most valuable products we have in our society.

Do you feel the program has helped your work in higher education?

Yes. My undergraduate degrees are in journalism and history, so I was first exposed to marketing, public relations and advertising all as a part of my job. This program helped to balance out my experience in the workforce by combining a foundation in marketing, advertising and PR with the instructor mentorship. It’s helped me develop strategic plans for the college that I work for.

Was there a certain class that you felt was most applicable to your career?

A lot of them were. One of the teachers, Karen Freberg, is actually a University of Florida like me, so I was able to connect with her through that. She taught the PR Strategy class and her insight was very valuable to me. I would also say the Web Metrics and SEO class was helpful in my job right now.

I think the introductory class and the Campaigns class at the end serve as very specials bookends for the program. You start off not completely knowing what the program is about or what you're getting into and it’s nice to evaluate your progress and see how much you’ve learned when you get to the campaigns class. The campaigns class, where you get to put together a full campaign from start to finish, is also really helpful. It was pretty fun to see how much I had grown.  

What would you tell someone who is considering a program like IMC, but is unsure about doing an online program?

I actually specifically looked for an online program because of the versatility and flexibility. I highly recommend it. I could continue to work and develop my experience and expertise while taking classes. I’m also graduating debt-free, which is incredible to me.

People say all the time that it's difficult to take classes and work full time. I was a part time student, so I took one class every eight weeks and that was a very good pace for me. I also appreciated that it wasn't going to take four years to graduate. I was still able to hang out with friends and go to work conferences. Clearly, I’ll have more time now that I graduated, but it’s so worth it.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the program?

I think it’s a really unique aspect that the administrators and professors are so hands-on. If I had any issues, the team was really quick to respond so that my studies weren't jeopardized.

Sometimes people might think that an online program doesn’t allow you to have a high level of interaction, but that is not true with this program.  I really appreciated how special the IMC administrators made graduation. I was impressed that we were actually hooded and that we had a luncheon afterward and got to meet all of graduates in person. It was fun to put a face to a name and connect with fellow students. There aren’t many programs that hood their master’s students and have a luncheon afterwards so I thought that was really special.