About Emmie Madison: Emmie Madison works as a Content Writer for Public Trust Advisors in Denver, Colorado. In this role, she is responsible for the writing, editing, and creation of a wide range of content, such as monthly newsletters and emails, presentations, printed collateral, blogs, proposal requests, and website content. Prior to joining Public Trust as a Marketing Intern in 2016, Ms. Madison worked for Vail Resorts as a Communication and Concierge Specialist at the Beaver Creek Club.
Ms. Madison attended Colorado Mesa University for her undergraduate studies, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English. In 2018, she completed her master’s degree through the Master of Arts in Communication program at the University of Colorado Denver.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Emmie Madison] My educational background started at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction where I earned a Bachelor of Art in English Writing. I focused largely on technical writing courses and have always loved the grammar and syntax of the English language. My first professional job was with the Beaver Creek Club and Vail Resorts, where I worked in a private club doing a variety of roles that lead me to newsletter writing and gave me an introduction to marketing.
When I moved to Denver to pursue my master’s program, I took a marketing internship with a locally owned investment advisory firm, Public Trust Advisors, and have been growing with the company ever since. After a year as an intern, the company created my current role for me, Content Writer, and I’ve continued to take on new responsibilities, often wearing many hats within the marketing department. I recently had an article published in the magazine of an organization we sponsor!
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the Master of Arts in Communication program at University of Colorado Denver?
[Emmie Madison] There were a number of factors that lead me to a Master of Arts in Communication, primarily as an avenue to actually get hired as a writer. Not many people are looking for English majors these days (but they should be!) so communication seemed like a great way to build on my existing skills while making myself a better candidate for a variety of roles. To this day, it is the best decision I ever made and opened my mind to new ways of thinking, new challenges, and new career paths.
One of the reasons I ultimately decided on the University of Colorado Denver was because of the location. I wanted to live downtown in a bigger city after spending two years in the small town of Avon (just west of Vail, Colorado). I visited CU Denver’s campus one week and absolutely loved the location, as it was nestled right next to the busy downtown but had a beautiful charm about campus that gave me the familiar small campus vibe I had during my undergrad. As I continued to research the program, I found many articles and books published by the esteemed professors, such as Sonja Foss who created an entire way of thinking within the communications field, and wanted to be involved with the program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is CU Denver’s MA in Communication 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?
[Emmie Madison] CU Denver’s MA in Communication program is certainly geared towards the academia path and many students continue on to pursue their PhDs. That being said, the program is also conducive to students that want to take a more traditional route and have a career outside of academia. Some of the most useful classes I took were geared towards crisis communication, particularly crisis communication in the workplace. We spent semesters breaking down case studies on how businesses, like Coca Cola and McDonald’s, handled crisis situations which lead up to a live action final in which we were given a crisis and had to act in the moment as executives for the business as well as journalists covering the scandal. Other courses integrated media and communication, drawing on foundational communication scholars and applying them to modern situations.
[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?
[Emmie Madison] One thing that I truly believe makes the MA in Communication program at CU Denver unique is the way they handle the capstone requirement. Students are given a number of options ranging from a full thesis to a portfolio option, the option I ultimately decided was best for me. The portfolio option involved the creation of a polished resume or CV, an edited and perfected longer piece of research, and three short answer questions to showcase the skills learned in the program and their application to your current career.
Once the portfolio is completed, an oral defense of your portfolio is conducted with your advisor and two faculty members of your choice. They ask questions to inspire discussion and allow you to defend your work and showcase the knowledge you gained while in the program. I worked with my advisor to finetune my resume, reworked a larger piece that I had written for a course that examined media representations of Colin Kaepernick, and chose three short answers that allowed me to pull in examples from my body of work I had developed with Public Trust, particularly focusing on crisis communication.
I would highly recommend this option to anyone who decides to pursue a career path outside of academia, as it gives you a comprehensive body of work and polished writing samples to take with you to an interview; this is particularly relevant for students who may not have a lot of experience professionally right out of their undergrad or graduate program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from CU Denver’s graduate communication program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Emmie Madison] Crisis communication courses have helped shape my career in so many ways; I would have never known the value of being prepared before a crisis happens if it weren’t for my time at CU Denver and that knowledge has come in handy on numerous occasions in my current role. Being able to come to a company with the skills to handle a crisis, or even stop a potential crisis in its tracks, will get you hired nine times out of ten.
Additionally, many professors had tips on how they write larger pieces that will help you if you plan to pursue your PhD or enter into the workforce. One of my professors taught us her trick of “killing your darlings” when writing something with a certain word, page, or general length limit. What this entails is copying and pasting pieces of writing that are not necessarily bad but may not be the best for the final version into another document so you don’t lose them. Sometimes they find a home in the final draft and when they do not, they may have a home in a future piece (likely a larger piece like a book). Paying attention to the advice your professors give you, even if it is not necessarily communication focused, will help you in your professional career.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting the Master of Arts in Communication program at the University of Colorado Denver? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at CU Denver or another university?
[Emmie Madison] Do it! Just kidding, but I cannot recommend the program enough. Between the beautiful campus located in downtown Denver, the small course sizes with individualized attention, and the knowledgeable and experience faculty, CU Denver is a great option for those looking to build their career outside of academia or as a stop along the way in their ultimate PhD goals.
My advice would be to take any opportunity given while in your master’s program; the relationships you build with your classmates and the faculty can easily turn into lifelong mentors, new career paths, and even simply a new set of friends. Take the work seriously but remember to choose topics that you enjoy; communication programs allow you to look at media and communication in new and different ways without limitation on topic so the creative freedom and ability to grown are limitless!
Thank you, Ms. Madison, for your excellent insights on the University of Colorado Denver’s Master of Arts in Communication program!