By Avra Bossov
M.A. ’16, Media & Strategic Communication (expected)
B.A. ’15, Political Communication
“I want you to feel comfortable with being a generalist,” said Lonnie, my career coach. I had never heard these words in a way that rang true—until this conversation.
In my 5th year at GW, as I am completing my Master’s degree, I often interact with students who are so sure of where they are going that they are unwilling to think outside the box when it comes to future paths. I am here to tell you: it’s okay to want to do many things. It’s okay to be a generalist.
That’s not to say I don’t have specific skills or interests. Being a generalist means I am adaptable; it means I can infuse my past experiences in my current and future positions; it means making connections between interdisciplinary subject areas in ways that are needed in several industries.
At first glance, my resume may look a little “all over the place.” Another way of describing it is, “I’ve tried many different experiences.” In media studies, we call it “framing”: that how something is said changes the perception of that topic.
For example, in my undergraduate career: I interned at a faith-based progressive lobbying organization; I took photos for the GW Hatchet freshman year; I joined Alpha Phi Omega, a gender-inclusive community service fraternity; I interned for the Sierra Club on their media team for academic credit in the sustainability minor; I served on the Jewish Student Association board for a semester; I interned for Revolution Messaging, a digital communications firm focusing on mobile messaging; I went on four GW Alternative Breaks trips to serve communities across the U.S.; I served as Director of Special Projects for Lizard Brain Solutions, a visual consulting firm, for a summer; I was a Resident Advisor in Thurston and Fulbright; I ran for Executive Vice President of the Student Association and spent the year presiding over our student senate and advocating for a peer support program, internship credit accessibility, and increased sexual violence prevention and awareness trainings; I spent second semester of my senior year as a Capitol Advertising team member, competing in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC).
Not so linear. But so rewarding.
In each of my experiences, I was able to use my skills, whether graphic design or communication or working with people to think: how can we do things better? I brought what I had learned from each preceding experience as the foundation on which to build up another. This – to me – is what a generalist is. I have realized that being a generalist is who I am, and who I want to continue being upon finishing my Master’s program and entering the workforce full-time.
In my current position as the Graduate Fellow for Strategic and Curricular Initiatives here in the Center for Career Services, and through my schoolwork in SMPA’s graduate program, I am constantly looking for ways to apply my previous knowledge in new ways and innovating how to do things effectively and better. And that makes me a proud generalist.
My career success story is knowing myself, and knowing that no matter where I am or what I am doing: I can be an effective communicator, working to make a difference in industries and communities.