About Nikita D’souza: Nikita D’souza is the Marketing Communications Coordinator for Bristol Associates, an aircraft remarketing company based in Washington, DC. Her responsibilities include designing and implementing communication plans and marketing campaigns, as well as creating a wide range of marketing materials, and maintaining the company’s website and social media accounts. Before joining Bristol Associates, Ms. D’Souza worked as an Integrated Marketing Intern for the National 4-H Council, and spent over a year as a Marketing Associate at Georgetown University Press while pursuing her master’s degree.
Ms. D’souza earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India, majoring in Business Management with focus on Marketing. She completed her master’s in 2018, through Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Nikita D’souza] I grew up in Mumbai, India, and earned my undergraduate degree in Business Management (Hons) with a focus on Marketing from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. I moved to Washington DC in 2016 to go to school full-time at Georgetown University. In May 2018, I graduated from Georgetown with a Master of Professional Studies degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, and I currently work at Bristol Associates, Inc. an aviation remarketing company in DC, as their Marketing Communications Coordinator. In this role, I create and implement communications and marketing plans and campaigns, and create presentations, graphics, sales support materials and proposals. I also am responsible for Bristol Associates’ digital footprint, including maintaining the website and social media accounts, and creating and distributing electronic and print communications, news releases and company announcements.
While I was a full-time student, I also worked part-time at Georgetown University Press (a publishing house affiliated with Georgetown University) as a Marketing Assistant. In this role, I integrated the traditional marketing practices of the Press with digital strategies, to create integrated marketing communications campaigns for upcoming publications each season. I spearheaded the Press’s foray into digital marketing and was responsible for the implementation of Google AdWords Campaigns and Google Analytics to enhance our marketing and branding efforts. I also managed the social media pages, and wrote and edited copy for the Press’s marketing materials and website.
[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 (IMC) program at Georgetown University?
[Nikita D’souza] My undergraduate degree in Business Management gave me a general overview of marketing and communications, but I felt the need to find a specialization that I was passionate about, and hence I chose to apply to grad school straight out of undergrad. So, while I had a couple of market research and communications summer internships under my belt, I didn’t have much formal long-term work experience going into grad school.
I knew that I wanted to build a career in Marketing, and I was looking for a comprehensive, application-based program that would focus on all the different marketing communications channels (advertising, direct marketing, social media and digital marketing). While doing research from India, I found many master’s in Marketing programs across the US, but I was attracted to the IMC program at Georgetown because the program offered a balance between the analytical and creative side of marketing communications. With equal emphasis on strategy and creativity, the IMC program combined my interests of marketing and communications, and was exactly what I was looking for. Of course, the Georgetown name and the location in the heart of Washington, DC helped!
[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?
[Nikita D’souza] Georgetown’s full-time IMC program has three foundation courses: Consumer Research and Insights, IMC Campaign Planning, and The Brand Concept. These courses are completed during the first two semesters of the program, and are the building blocks upon which the rest of your coursework is based. The program also has two compulsory core courses: Conversations about Ethics and Capstone.
Additionally, the IMC program allows you to pick six elective courses depending on your interest and career goals. The electives offered are spread across the marketing spectrum from Digital Marketing, Advertising, Digital Analytics and Measurement, to The Management of IMC and Innovations in IMC, so you can customize your coursework to your personal goals.
I think the program does a fantastic job of ensuring that each student has a clear understanding of the fundamentals before they dive deeper into the electives and Capstone. Most projects are application based, and are aimed at preparing you to deal with challenges that you would routinely find in the workplace. The curriculum helped me hone both my analytical and creative skills, and helped me develop a framework for marketing communications that I use at my workplace today.
[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?
[Nikita D’souza] Capstone is a requirement to graduate from Georgetown’s IMC program. For Capstone, students have to find a real-world client and solve a marketing challenge for their client through in-depth primary and secondary research, analysis of insights, and finally the creation of a marketing plan. The final deliverable is a comprehensive integrated marketing plan (including visual marketing materials and samples) that aimed at solving the problem. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor with whom they had weekly consultations, and students meet as a class a couple of times to discuss the challenges and issues they faced. At the end of the semester, students present their IMC plans to both the faculty and their clients.
My client was a fitness studio called Pure Barre in Arlington, VA, and their challenge was to increase the number of memberships to their studio. So, I had to create a marketing communications strategy that would attract new members to the studio. To arrive at my insights, I conducted in-depth secondary research, created a survey and interviewed multiple members of the target audience. I then used these insights to identify marketing tactics and a communications strategy to connect with the audiences. My faculty advisor helped me hone my insights, and was very supportive throughout the semester. She gave me constructive criticism and made me think about my project through a new perspective. At the end of the semester, I presented my completed plan to my classmates and the faculty committee and sent the plan to my client, and graduated a few weeks later.
[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?
[Nikita D’souza] Like I mentioned, the program’s emphasis on the foundation courses of IMC Campaign Planning, The Brand Concept, and Consumer Research and Insights was very helpful. Through the core courses and electives, I developed a framework and approach to solving marketing challenges that I use at my workplace every day. The classes were constantly evolving, and we discussed current events and trends in marketing communications very often, which helped students keep up with industry changes and happenings.
Also, the connections I made throughout the program have been so valuable to me! My colleagues in the program came from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, and I learned so much from my interactions with them. The faculty and alumni network were a fantastic resource for me as I was job hunting after graduation.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marking 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?
[Nikita D’souza] My biggest piece of advice to students looking to start a master’s degree at Georgetown is to align your coursework and Capstone client with your goals and interests. With this program, you get what you put in, so be sure to use all the resources that Georgetown has to offer (and there are a lot of them — events, seminars, trainings). Also, I cannot stress how important it is to network with your faculty and colleagues. These connections are invaluable as you move ahead in your career. Enjoy your time at Georgetown. It may not seem like it, but the two years will fly by!
To students considering a master’s in communications program, I encourage you to evaluate your professional and personal goals before you decide on a program. Doing this will help you get the most out of any program you choose.
Thank you, Ms. D’souza, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marking Communications program!