About Carlos Lopez: Carlos Lopez is the Deputy Director of Tourism for the city of Veracruz, Mexico. In this role, he works with the Director of Tourism to organize public events and help craft the city’s image through its website and social media channels. Mr. Lopez has held a number of communications and marketing positions with companies throughout Mexico, including Calide Group, Eaton Wiring Devices, Ana Behabik, and Aurea Comunica. While pursuing his master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he worked as a Communications Consultant for the United States Tennis Association, and Communications Intern for the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.
Mr. Lopez holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Universidad De Las Americas Puebla (UDLAP) in Cholula, Mexico. He completed his master’s in 2017, through Georgetown’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Carlos Lopez] I attended Universidad De Las Americas Puebla in Mexico, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. A few years later, I got a Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University (2016 – 2017), where I had the opportunity to do hands-on work with a few clients.
Currently, I work as Deputy Director of Tourism at the Municipality of Veracruz, Mexico, my hometown. I support the Director of Tourism with the organization of events in public spaces and the new image of the touristic digital channels such as website and social media. Since graduating college, I have always worked in communications for small businesses and international organizations. That experience gave me an overview of the importance of the communications area/practice at any organization.
[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 Public Relations and Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University?
[Carlos Lopez] After a while working full time in Mexico, I noticed that a graduate degree was important to move forward professionally. So with that, I decided to do some research about specialized programs abroad. I was a hundred percent sure an MBA was not an option to me, and given my experience in the communications field, I started looking for programs in this area.
Doing some research, I found that Georgetown University offered a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. As soon as I saw the name of the program and took a look at the courses, and the quality of the faculty, I knew it was meant to be. Besides, the approach of the MPS got my attention immediately due to the hands-on experience it offers, unlike MSCs or MAs. In addition to that, the name, prestige, and recognition Georgetown University has around the world, added to an award-winning program, sealed the deal to start my application process.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is Georgetown’s MPS 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?
[Carlos Lopez] The program is structured using a hands-on methodology, in which we have the chance to learn something new in class and then apply in our assignments or the next day at our jobs. Also, there are some core courses that are mandatory for everyone, but every student has the opportunity to choose from a variety of courses to customize the program depending on the person’s preferences.
Furthermore, research is a big part on the Georgetown PRCC program because like I mentioned before, the program is a hundred percent practical, and in order to develop and build effective communications strategies, we must be able to support those strategies with research.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your capstone project? What communication issue or challenge did it address, and what were your primary deliverables (i.e. communications plan, tutorial, video, visual marketing materials, etc.)? What advice do you have for students in terms of successfully completing their project?
[Carlos Lopez] Completing a capstone project by myself in less than four months while working part-time in a foreign language was an amazing challenge. The planning process for my capstone project, which consisted of a communications plan, began the semester prior to actually starting the capstone course, when I had to look for a client with communications needs interested in getting pro bono consulting from a grad student. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a law firm in Mexico City interested in my services as a consultant and willing to implement the communications plan I was about to build for them.
The first meeting I had with them was to define their communications goal: increase awareness in Mexico City. Afterward, I did primary and secondary research to find meaningful insight that would allow us to build strategies and tactics that later became the tools my client would use to reach their goal. The final deliverable was a communications plan that included research, situation analysis, goal, objectives, strategies, tactics, budget, calendar, opportunity, key publics, positioning/framing, messages, and creative materials.
At the end of the semester, I had to present my project in less than five minutes in front of my classmates and the committee that included capstone advisors and faculty. I was lucky enough to have a great capstone advisor that supported me along the semester and helped me practice for my final presentation, giving me feedback on my public speaking skills and the content of the presentation. I had my commencement ceremony just a couple of weeks after the final presentation, and a couple of months later when I came back to Mexico, I visited my client at their office in Mexico City to pitch the communications plan we build together. In the end, when you look back, you realize that everything was worth it.
The advice I would give to all grad students for successfully completing a capstone project is to be organized. Plan your weekly schedules ahead (including errands and social life) and you will be fine.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Georgetown’s PR and Corporate Communications program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Carlos Lopez] The major takeaway regarding the program is the fact that every proposition made by a communicator must be supported by research. The Georgetown PRCC program shaped my mindset to have an analytical overview before deciding anything. For example, in the first core course Elements of Communications Planning, they thought me how to build a communications plan from scratch. The professor even gave us a few lessons on how to do primary and secondary research, and how to find insights between all that information that we could use to build a communications plan that would gain a client’s attention.
Moreover, the Public Relations Writing class left me a handful of useful tools that I used at my job at a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. It was very satisfying to have the necessary skills to accomplish my assignments with my former boss thanks to what I learned in that course.
I can assure that Georgetown prepared me for the latest developments in communication technology thanks to the digital communications related courses I took at the PRCC program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at Georgetown or another university?
[Carlos Lopez] The biggest advice I would give to students looking to start a master’s degree in communications is to choose the right program for your needs. Take your time to find a few programs of interest and see if those fit your professional needs. As I mentioned before, the Georgetown University MPS PRCC is a practical program that will boost your skills and therefore your careers within the organization you might be working for in the future. But, if you are trying to begin your career as a researcher and eventually get a Ph.D., find a program that will meet those needs.
Lastly, be aware that a master’s degree is not an easy task. You will sacrifice several weekends, birthday celebrations, time with your families and hours of sleep. But the feeling when you walk on your commencement ceremony does not compare to anything.
Enjoy every second of your experience at grad school!!
Thank you, Mr. Lopez, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program!