About Professor Wendy Zajack, MBA: Wendy Zajack is the Faculty Director for the Master of Professional Studies in Design Management & Communications and Integrated Marketing Communications programs at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. She is also an Assistant Professor who teaches a number of graduate courses in the program including: Conversation in Ethics, Collaboration Lab and Capstone (the final course in the program).
Before joining academia, Ms. Zajack had a 20-year corporate career working for large, global organizations, including Reuters, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia, building messaging for multiple audiences and using a variety of marketing channels. She now brings her extensive experience into the classroom and helps her students explore new and innovative ways to market and communicate in an increasingly crowded business environment. She has earned bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Syracuse University, and her Master’s in Business Administration from New York University.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies’ Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications program, and how it is structured? What are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] Georgetown’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is an applied program focused on giving students skills and knowledge at the intersection of strategy and creativity. Fundamentally we want our students to recognize that understanding their audience and coming up with a deep meaningful insight around what their audiences need and want is a hallmark of great marketing. Once this is achieved we help them continue to hone and create out of the box ideas (or sometimes very basic ideas) to reach their goals.
We believe these are critical underpinnings for students to understand and master to be successful in the rapidly changing marketing scene. We are a 33-credit program (eleven three-credit classes) with 5 core classes: Conversations in Ethics, Consumer Research & Insights, IMC Campaign Planning, Brand Concept, and Capstone (taken at the end of the program, where students work with a real client to prepare an IMC plan). We also offer a number of electives focusing on various key elements of marketing, including creativity, leadership and business strategy, and digital channels and analytics. In addition, we offer client-facing courses where students work in teams to support client projects as well as a global client travel course.
The IMC program is really built around creating great brands, messages, and products that meet the needs of consumers, as well as figuring out the strategies and channels that can be used to execute those plans. We explore traditional channels (advertising, events, public relations and direct mail) with digital channels (web, email) and social media channels (snapchat, twitter) and whatever may come next.
Our students take this myriad of channels and learn to weave them together to create a cohesive and strong brand story and message. The PRCC [Public Relations & Corporate Communications] program focuses more on reaching a variety of audiences through the communications and public relations lens — while sometimes the channels can be similar, the discipline is more around reaching key stakeholders with messaging and content that shapes their opinion.
Since we are part of a larger family of communications Masters programs including Public Relations & Corporate Communications, Journalism and a new Design Management Communications Program launching this Fall our students also have the opportunity to take electives in some of our other programs to explore areas of interest as well as giving them the opportunity to learn in the large (and growing) world of communications expertise.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Georgetown’s Master of Professional Studies in IMC program gives students the option of completing part or all of their program online. Could you please describe the online program and how students take classes and interact with faculty and peers?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] We work extremely hard to make sure our online students enjoy the same learning experiences as our on ground students. We offer an asynchronous format that does not require our students to visit our Washington, DC campus; however, they are welcome at any time. We are not fans of binge-education, so our modules are meant to be worked through gradually each week. The classes include discussion with classmates (and the faculty) via discussion boards, ground projects, and sometimes live presentations.
Our program is fully blended, so if students want to take classes online or off-line they can mix and match. This allows our working students complete flexibility. We continue to experiment with online formats, for example this semester I am teaching a class called Collaboration Lab that mixes both on-ground and online students in one class, with both live and asynchronous classes. Many of our faculty teach both on-ground and online, so our online students have the same opportunity to make connections with this amazing team. Online courses also give us the ability to recruit instructors from outside of the DC-metro area, giving us access to an even larger group of faculty talent!
[MastersinCommunications.com] How does Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in IMC evolve its curriculum to align with industry advancements? What have been some of the recent and most distinctive additions to the curriculum?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] Marketing is a field that continues to change rapidly with channels and strategies becoming outdated extremely quickly. However, one thing that does not change is the need for understanding and empathy for the behavior of your consumer, being able to identify great insights, and the ability to understand and develop great creative strategies. Because we are a program that leverages working professionals as adjuncts, we are very fortunate that the latest and greatest strategies, insights, and technologies are being brought into the classroom. That being said, we continue to look at areas for our students to grow. This semester we added a leadership in IMC class to explore critical thinking and the development of more effective management skills when leading teams. We have also continued to make sure our students are learning the ‘numbers’ side of marketing, including business fundamentals like budgeting and return on investment, as well as the increasingly important area of digital analytics.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications program? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while in the program?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] The professional strength and breadth of knowledge of our faculty, their willingness to connect with students, and the powerful networks they bring have proved time and time again to be a great launching pad for our students. As we are a program with working students, the connections students make with one another in and outside of classes have also proved to be incredibly useful from an academic and professional standpoint. Many times these connections lead to new job opportunities or leads. Both our on-ground and online students get to know each other and their faculty members to form meaningful and lasting connections. Because we are based in a large, international city, we also are able to bring in excellent guest speakers (both in classrooms and in a larger setting) who are able to interact with students.
After graduating, Georgetown has an amazing (and supportive) network of alumni around the country and the globe. For those located in the DC metro area, we have a number of local events to help our alumni students stay in touch and keep connections going.
[MastersinCommunications.com] For students interested in Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications program, what advice do you have in terms of submitting a competitive application?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] We holistically review applications so we like to see a combination of things from our students: 1) a good undergraduate academic performance 2) excellent and relevant work experience – we like to see at least a year of working experience (or amazing internships). We have an opportunity to submit work samples – so please do! and 3) an application that really helps us understand why our IMC program is of interest to you and fits your career goals. This could include looking through our list of courses and letting us know which ones you are excited about, as well as an explanation of your career aspirations.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students? How does the program prepare students particularly well for advanced careers in marketing?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] I think we are a great balance of strategy and creativity. This helps our students learn to combine key marketing fundamentals with cutting edge techniques they can immediately apply in their careers now – techniques that will also help them build for the future. We bring this to life the classroom (on-ground or virtual) with a world-class team of adjunct faculty who are able to connect this with their own unique experiences and examples.
As the faculty director, I wake up every day thinking about ways to make this program the best it can be and to prepare our students to be the best marketers they can be. I left the corporate world to be a part of academia to change our industry for the better –and I haven’t ever regretted that decision!
[MastersinCommunications.com] You are also the Faculty Director for the Master of Professional Studies in Design Management & Communications program at Georgetown University. Could you please provide an overview of this program’s curriculum and online instruction methods? What concepts are covered in the core courses and electives, and what are the key learning outcomes of the program?
[Professor Wendy Zajack] One of the things that is becoming clear in our cluttered world is that the visual connection is one of the strongest, deepest connections we have as human beings. The primary goal of the Design Management & Communications (DM&C) program is to teach students how to utilize good design to change people’s mind or change the world.
This online only program brings together students across a broad spectrum of disciplines–from graphic designers to analytical problem-solvers–with the goal of exploring a holistic approach to design management. Like all of our Georgetown Masters programs, it is taught by faculty who are both industry experts and seasoned academics.
The core courses that make up the 33-credit DM&C program include topics from Ethical Design, Visual Communications, Design Management & Strategy, Design Thinking, Design Leadership, and the final Capstone project where students work with a real client on a design challenge. Electives will explore topics ranging from Technology Innovation and User Experience to Business Communications and Integrated Design Strategy.
Students will graduate from the Design Management & Communications program with not only a well-rounded understanding of the challenges of the design process, but also the confidence to lead a design project from development to marketing and beyond.
Thank you, Professor Zajack, for your excellent insight into Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications program and the new Master of Professional Studies in Design Management & Communications program!