About Dhvani Unadkat: Dhvani Unadkat is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Hunter Public Relations in New York City. In addition to this, she is currently pursuing her third master’s degree, a Master of Business Administration. Ms. Unadkat previously worked as a PR and Content Intern at HomeLister, and Business Analyst Intern at the New York City Department of Transportation. Before relocating to New York, she worked in Public Relation for Universal Communications in India, handling publicity for major motion pictures and celebrity clients.
Ms. Unadkat holds both a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and master’s degree in Business from the University of Mumbai. She completed her second master’s in 2017, graduating from The City College of New York’s Master of Professional Studies in Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) program with a specialization in Public Relations.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Dhvani Unadkat] I have a variety of degrees. To be precise, I have two master’s and also am pursuing my MBA currently. I got my bachelor’s from University of Mumbai in Journalism. After which, I went on to working with one of India’s biggest Entertainment Public Relations called Universal Communications. I worked on over 150 movies, including Hollywood movies like Gone Girl, The Avengers, and Jungle book, to name a few. I wanted to understand Business at this point, because I worked on movies. That’s when I got my first master’s degree in Business Management, while I continued to work.
After two years in Mumbai as an Entertainment Marketer, I decided to pursue Public Relations as my specialty and applied to CUNY City College. I got my admission and moved to New York in 2015. I earned my Master’s in Branding and Integrated Communications with PR as my specialty. While I was defending my portfolio for my graduation, I met with the CEO of Hunter Public Relations on the panel of judges. She was impressed by my portfolio which leaned towards Analytics and Measurement in Public Relations. There on, I started working with Hunter Public Relations as a Digital Marketing Analyst in September 2017.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the Master of Professional Studies in Branding + Integrated Communications (BIC) program at The City College of New York?
[Dhvani Unadkat] After working in India for two years, I realized that I wanted to study Public Relations in depth and look at a global perspective, hence I decided to study in New York, the hub of Public Relations in the United States. I chose BIC because the course allowed to select between three specialties. I could pursue my specialty in PR but also take courses in Ad Business (Management) and Creative Design. This is what attracted me to BIC the most. I wanted to get a holistic view on the communications business and BIC helped me get it.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is the BIC program structured, and what concepts did the program emphasize? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?
[Dhvani Unadkat] The BIC program is structured keeping in mind all aspects of the communications business. All the core courses in the first year of the program teach you in detail about research, strategy, consumer mindsets and understanding consumer lifestyles and being able to categorize different consumers. The second-year concentrates on all the core skills you require for your specialty. I chose PR and hence I was offered courses in press release writing, corporate communication strategy, communications planning, crisis communications and measurement strategy in both our Capstone projects. We also worked in an agency setting as a team to pitch to non-profit and profit clients. It was the best experience I have had. We had client briefs, strategy sessions, tactic sessions and measurement based KPI outlooked pitches.
All these skills that I learned helped my get my job as a Digital Marketing Analyst today. Whenever, I look at any tactic now, I think about the touchpoints and KPI to measure them against. This core skill is what I learnt in my communications planning class with Professor Ellen. She always asked us for a rationale for every small or big tactic we suggested. She also asked us to think about ROI as a core concept while thinking of any strategy.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your final portfolio? What projects did you decide to include and why? What advice do you have for students in terms of successfully completing their portfolio?
[Dhvani Unadkat] The final portfolio is one of the most difficult projects I have ever worked on. The most important concept to keep in mind was how should I make my portfolio stand out amongst 10 of my classmates. I decided to include all my projects where I worked on budgeting the campaigns. I picked three projects depending on the budget: a small budget, a middle budget, and a large budget. Also worked on a clear ROI (return on investment) justification for all three of my projects.
The most valuable advice I wished someone gave me while working on my portfolio is to find your niche. Have enough confidence in the niche so that you leave an impression on the judges. Also, complete your portfolio at least two days in advance so that you can practice the talk through. It is very important to be familiar with your content and own it.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from CCNY’s MPS in Branding + Integrated Communications program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Dhvani Unadkat] The biggest takeaway from the BIC program that helped with my career path is what I mentioned, understanding consumer rationale and values before thinking about even a small tactic. My course of communications planning helped me gain this skill. This one skill has helped me at my work place the most and I am most praised because of this level of intricate thinking. CCNY also helped me bridge the gap between data and PR. These two didn’t closely work with each other until three years ago. Understanding data and learning how to use it in the context of PR is something BIC encouraged me towards.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting the BIC program at The City College of New York? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at CCNY or another university?
[Dhvani Unadkat] I think anyone who joins BIC should make sure to make the most of the program. The program offers a variety of one credit courses, a lot of sessions with esteemed members of various agencies and lots of training for industry competitions. Make the most of all these sessions, it gives a deep understanding into the industry.
For anyone picking a master’s in communications program, just be sure that you love what you’re doing. Also, be sure to be passionate about your portfolio/thesis. That is going to stick with you, for good. You’re going to get positions offered depending on your portfolio, make sure it’s an image of who you see yourself working as.
Thank you, Ms. Unadkat, for your excellent insights on The City College of New York’s Master of Professional Studies in Branding + Integrated Communications program!