Guide to Life After College for Communications/Advertising Major

So, You’ve Graduated College – Now What?

Congratulations! For some this is the first time in your life where you will officially be out in the world on your own. Everything has lead up to this moment and… you have no idea what to do. Don’t worry! No one does. Some people are just better at faking it than others. The congratulations are still in order though. You have spent so much time and effort, and you have finally got your shiny new degree in hand and the entire world has opened up to you.

Now that you’ve made it it’s time for you to know – college was the easy part. Life has no set path for you to take, and there isn’t an academic counselor holding your hand telling you what you need to do. For the most part you are now set loose into the world, but if you have no idea what you want to do it’s ok. You are a communications graduate and you have what it takes to take on whatever challenges will face you. Hopefully this article can help shed light on potential avenues for you that might make deciding what you want to do with your life a little easier.

To start, the field of Communications is so expansive and includes various amounts of disciplines, including: advertising, public relations, and journalism – but you already knew that. It would be an incredibly arduous and daunting task to attempt to quantitate every possible field that students studying Communications could get into. Communications is one of those wonderful majors that encompass so many different types of students and personalities. While this sounds nice, it also leads to the challenge of students trying to find out what potential career path would fit them.

While some people may have already cemented in their minds the exact career path that they will take, others might still need a little direction. At my university I was able to focus on the field of Advertising within my Communication studies. While I learned quite an extensive amount of knowledge about the industry and have had some incredible opportunities to figure out what career path I personally would want to embark on, everything will always be up in the air. No matter how sure you are of any field you want to get into, there will always be other paths that you could pursue that could greatly alter the course of your professional life. The good thing about a major like Communications, is that even with a focus (like advertising, PR, etc…) is that you still learn general concepts that could apply to a plethora of different industries

The skills learned within the major vary greatly from discipline to discipline, but all students are initially taught a foundation of communication skills that are later built upon depending on what their focus is. Throughout their major, communication students will have developed important skills and abilities that will directly translate into whatever field they eventually end up deciding. These include:

  • Effectively writing across different mediums whether creatively or analytically
  • Integrating various methods of data collection in order to correctly display their point
  • Conflict resolution and the ability to communicate diplomatically between parties
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Public speaking
  • Visual and graphic design
  • Media and marketing expertise

With such a wide array of applicable skills it seems that communication majors really have their pick-of-the-litter when it comes to career choices. While yes, there are an incredible amount of fields that you’d be able to get into, there are jobs that utilize what you’ve learned more than others. If you’re looking for a potential career path that will mirror more of the world of communications, here are a couple options:


Academic Counselor

If you’ve got a yearning for helping other people, then you might want to get into academic counseling. Remember how lost you were when you were a freshman, or even when you were a senior? Academic counselors are the brave souls that work within academia in order to help students realize their goals and the best way to get there. While some students can’t wait to get as far away as the college they graduate from as soon as they have their brand—spanking-new degree in their hand, some might still want to hang around the world of higher education. If you have good running through your veins, you enjoy giving out advice and want to hang around the pearly gates of university then this career path might suit you.

Entry-Level Salary: $38k | Median Salary: $47k | Senior Salary: $69k



Journalism is an ever changing industry that is sure to bring its own load of challenges, but with that a great deal of reward as well. Journalists work in various degrees of mediums in order to communicate stories, news, and ideas that are at the forefront of society. Chasing down stories, making documentaries, sharing the news of what’s going on around the world is the bread and butter of journalism. If that is what gets you going you might want to consider journalism, but remember that no one got into journalism to get rich.

Entry-Level Salary: $25k | Median Salary: $40k | Senior Salary: $70k


Art Director

Have you ever watched Mad Men and thought to yourself how cool it would be to be Don Draper? Well, that will probably never happen in today’s world, but becoming an art director is pretty close. Art directors work in various industries, and while no one is still smoking in midtown skyscrapers and drinking before noon, there is quite a lot to enjoy within the career. A creative and analytical job that flows through various industries, art directors are responsible for the way in which people react to something. They create the mood, sell the emotion, and get you to feel the way that they want you to feel. Depending on the industry it can be a very competitive market, and for good reason. If you’re good at your job, you can see monumental growth as you rise through the ranks, and your bank account will be thanking you for the years to come.

Entry-Level Salary: $47k | Median Salary: $85k | Senior Salary: $150k



Piggybacking off of talking about art directors, copywriters are a vital part in many different industries. Copywriters work in a couple various types of organizations, and the job may see you writing anything from blog and social media posts to the slogans in advertisements. They are the people responsible for writing the publicized text that is, in-part, responsible for developing the brand image and consumer rapport. Being a copywriter develops the student into a masterful wordsmith able to communicate ideas big or small to the masses. Choosing this career path would surely stretch both your creative and analytical sides, and has the option to compensate you very well for your time and effort.

Entry-Level Salary: $47k | Median Salary: $76k | Senior Salary: $140k


Social Media Manager/Coordinator

It seems that today now more than ever people are spending more and more time with their eyes glued to screens. Good thing is that people will now pay you to effectively communicate with these people. With all your wonderful qualifications that you’ve earned at your stint in higher education you can now help brands and organizations leverage themselves to people obsessed with their tiny glowing screens. The role of either a social media manager or coordinator require you to be able to communicate persuasively, analyze user and consumer behavior, and have a firm grasp on the concepts surrounding social media. If you choose this career path then you will be working with a variety of different organizations, brand, and/or products across multiple different platforms in order to make sure that the average consumer feels the way about them that you want them to.

Entry-Level Salary: $43k | Median Salary: $76k | Senior Salary: $107k



Positioning brands in a certain way can convey a multitude of different messages. The role of a brand strategist is to conduct analysis and market research in order to better understand consumer behavior. You will be working directly with brands, organizations, or agencies in order to drive up sales, reposition brand image, and increase awareness.

Entry-Level Salary: $40k | Median Salary: $70k | Senior Salary: $120k


Event Planner

The job of an event planner is to develop the plans for both small- and large-scale events, meetings, and anything in-between. They utilize a heavy amount of interpersonal skills through execution in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Event planners can work with a multitude of different people and organizations. Leadership skills are incredibly important for this role as you will have people working under you, and it is your job to make sure that everyone knows what they’re doing.

Entry-Level Salary: $31k | Median Salary: $48k | Senior Salary: $75k



Chances are there is something that people don’t know about that you know do. Consultants advise businesses about certain aspects that they know a great deal about. The world of consulting is so large, seeing as you can consult about pretty much anything at all. Business and advertising consulting, however, is what most people think about when they think of large bank accounts, a caffeine addiction, and not remembering the last time they had a decent night’s sleep. The career is massively competitive and work is rigorous, but you will revel both in the fact that you are helping people out and that by the time you retire you could probably live out your fantasy of diving through gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.

Entry-Level Salary: $60k | Median Salary: $95k | Senior Salary: $140k