About Katie Bowen: Katie Bowen is an experienced Marketing Communications Professional, who has spent much of her career working in politics, issue advocacy, and non-profits. Most recently, she served as a Consultant for Platinum Enterprises in Washington, D.C., helping to develop event and promotional marketing strategy. Before that, Ms. Bowen was an Account Executive at Vertical Strategies, where she managed social media and email marketing.
Ms. Bowen holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Marketing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Intelligence from Johns Hopkins University. In 2017, she completed the Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program at Georgetown University.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Katie Bowen] I attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for my undergraduate degree from 2008-2012 and then both Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University for my graduate degrees from 2016-2018. At UNLV, I studied Political Science and Marketing, whereas my graduate degrees consisted of Integrated Marketing Communications at Georgetown and Intelligence at JHU.
I have a diverse background working in non-profits, issue advocacy, campaign management, and client relations. A beginning in Nevada politics ultimately led me ten years later to Washington, D.C., where I decided to pursue a master’s in communications in order to advance my career.
I soon discovered my passion for cause marketing and social impact communications during my time as a Cause Consultant and later a Research Assistant with Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication – which helped clarify my chosen career path, as well as awarded me Georgetown’s 2017 Golden Bulldog Award for Social Impact Communication in IMC.
[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 Integrated Marketing Communications program at Georgetown University?
[Katie Bowen] In the political arena, effective and efficient communications help win elections, educate key publics on policy, and is the bread and butter of navigating Washington, D.C. I felt by pursuing a degree in integrated marketing communications, I would strengthen my skillset to better manage campaigns, tie together my passions for political science with marketing, and acquire new techniques for showcasing my creative side.
I applied to both Georgetown University’s Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications and George Washington University’s Master’s in Political Management. After receiving acceptance to both programs, I decided on Georgetown for its in-person class structure, rather than GWU’s online program.
Personally, I gain more from learning in social settings, in-person classrooms, and among a diverse network of people. Both programs were highly rated, however, Georgetown’s program had a wider range of flexibility for both online and in-person course options and allowed for cross-electives among its School of Continuing Studies programs.
Plus, IMC was a new program that spun off of Georgetown’s PR/CC program, so there were similar courses between the two, however, a greater emphasis on marketing and brand management – which was ultimately what I wanted to immerse myself in academically.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is Georgetown’s IMC 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?
[Katie Bowen] The IMC program has a total of eleven courses broken up into three sections. The first requirement consists of two core courses: Conversations About Ethics and a final Capstone project. Then three foundation courses: Consumer Research and Insights, IMC Campaign Planning, and The Brand Concept. And finally, six electives which allow each student to personalize their graduate experience with their professional ambitions.
I found that each course was a building block upon another that came together full circle in the final Capstone project. Even with a diverse selection of electives and the ability to choose cross-electives from other programs, the course content always related back to IMC in some form.
An important concept that I gained from the program was the ability to deep dive into the psyche of the consumer/target audience and discover the “ah-ha” moment that ultimately leads to an effective marketing campaign strategy. I’ve been able to apply this concept more effectively in my role with non-profits and fundraising.
[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?
[Katie Bowen] The capstone project was the most stressful and most rewarding experience of my graduate career. Every person I spoke to beforehand noted the feeling of failure around the two-thirds mark of the semester – of which I brushed off until I realized it was true and had to overcome it.
My capstone project specifically addressed fundraising for an international non-profit in Liberia whose mission is for every girl to have the opportunity to go to school, called More Than Me Foundation. It was a large communications project and I worked closely with my client’s team. Given the idea of a collective for the United States, my goal and objective was to build a marketing communications strategy that reached target audiences, activated them to give to a monthly collective and help a cause that they may never know on a personal level.
The deliverable was the marketing strategy and research in a 52-page bound document, all the research performed (complementary and for my client’s reference), as well as a presentation in the form of a story on the strategy to both the capstone course and to my client via Skype. I was so proud of the work towards the end of the project and to know that the organization implemented the strategy – it made my master’s worthwhile in one single project.
When completing capstone, I highly suggest going after an organization that a student is passionate about and may never be able to work with otherwise. It’s essentially pro-bono work that benefits the organization, however if done properly, it can make an impact in a sector like non-profits.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Georgetown’s MPS in Integrated Marketing Communications program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Katie Bowen] Georgetown has a strong alumni network globally – a huge key takeaway for graduates. Professors and advisors don’t neglect students once finished with the program. I found my network to become more valuable and a greater asset professionally since my time in the IMC program.
My experience in the program brought increased self-awareness in terms of career passions, strengths, and abilities that I’m appreciative for since that discovery brought about clarity and professional development. In marketing, there’s an “ah-ha” moment when a brand is able to breakthrough and meet the need of a target audience – that’s what the IMC program did for my career.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing 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?
[Katie Bowen] The best advice I could give is to make the experience of graduate school a tailored experience to the specific individual. I believe in pushing one’s self out of a comfort zone and not necessarily sticking to the program – i.e. taking the opportunity to explore electives that contribute to development, however may not necessarily fall under the program’s curriculum. It allows for a well-rounded experience.
Also, approaching Georgetown University’s MPS in IMC program with an open mind will aid in creative development of the necessary skills used in marketing, as well as a unique personal development of the student’s brand and how they want to build their career after completion of the program. I learned more about myself and my strengths during the IMC program than I ever had in my undergraduate studies.
Pursuing graduate school is like storytelling and each student will need to develop their story in order to reach “the end” of the program – make it an epic one.
Thank you, Ms. Bowen, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marking Communications program!