About Jorge Jones: Jorge Jones is the Young Alumni and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator at the University of the Incarnate Word, which is also his alma mater. As Coordinator, Mr. Jones designs marketing and community outreach initiatives for UIW’s alumni and parent engagement programs, manages social events, builds community partnerships, and serves as an advisor to the student alumni association on campus. Prior to this position, Mr. Jones was the Marketing Communications Coordinator for Capital Insiders, a private real estate lending and investment firm. In addition, he completed an internship with NASCAR, during which he managed Spanish social media content and marketing campaigns for for Hispanic & youth audiences interested in NASCAR. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Bilingual Communications, and his Master of Arts in Communication Arts in Communication Studies.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background? What motivated you to earn your Bachelor of Arts in Bilingual Communications and Bilingual Media Studies and your Master of Arts in Communication Arts, and how did these degrees combine to give you optimal professional preparation? Could you describe your position as a Young Alumni & Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for UIW, as well as some of the past roles that led you up to this position?
[Jorge Jones] I graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word with both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. There are two main reasons why I chose UIW as the place where I wanted to pursue my collegiate education. The first being my faith and religion. Growing up as a Catholic, I always envisioned myself attending a Catholic institution where I could learn more about my religion and continue nurturing my relationship with God. Upon learning the history of this institution–beginning with the solidarity and bravery acts of the CCVI sisters who founded our school–I had my heart sold on UIW. The second and also very important reason why I chose UIW was because of the bilingual communications undergraduate program the university offered. I was born in Mexico City and I grew up speaking Spanish as my first language. Once I moved to the United States, I knew the importance and significance of continuing to develop skills in my first language. This was something that was very important for me.
The desire and motivation to earn a Master’s degree initiated early as an undergraduate student. After a few talks with my advisor, I was told about the Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s (ABM) program the Department of Communications offered. The Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s program is designed for students to complete both degrees in just over five years. I knew this was a great opportunity for me and this led me to apply for the program.
Both of these degrees gave me optimal professional preparation by offering a diverse selection of courses and electives encompassing the study of communication as a whole. These programs have the perfect combination of theory-based and experience-based courses teaching students to excel as writers, public relations specialists, journalists, convergent media professionals, and many other professions that I had no knowledge of, and it opened my mind to a whole new world of endless possibilities.
The experience I gained while I was a student led me to four different internships during my time as a college student. Three of those were with NASCAR–where I was selected to be a member of the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. These internships gave me the ability to put all the knowledge of this program into practice. I had the blessing of working in the Integrated Marketing Communications, Hispanic Marketing, and Multicultural Development departments in both North Carolina and Florida. My final internship was with the San Antonio Spurs, where I served as a Media Relations assistant–a position in which I was able to succeed thanks to the courses I took in writing for the media, bilingual journalism, public relations, and many others.
After graduation, I knew I wanted to be involved in communications and marketing–a passion I developed early on as a college student. My first job out of college was as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Capital Insiders, a private money lending and investment firm. Once again, I was putting all the knowledge I gained at UIW into practice; however, this time it was with a focus in the real estate industry.
Fast forward to today and I am serving as a Young Alumni and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for the Department of Alumni & Parent Relations at the University of the Incarnate Word. This job presented itself last year and I could not turn down the opportunity to work for the institution that made me the person I am today. In this role, I get to do many things–which is why I enjoy it and keep learning so much. A few of the duties I have are to assist with the communications and marketing strategies for both our alumni and parents through our digital channels; plan, promote, and coordinate professional and social events for different constituents of the university; serve as the advisor of the student alumni association; and lastly recruit and coordinate student, parent, and alumni volunteers.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue your Master of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word? What were your professional goals, and how did you see the Master of Arts program at UIW meeting them optimally?
[Jorge Jones] I decided to pursue a Master of Arts in Communications degree because of the great opportunity I had in front of me. I felt it was a great option to further my education–especially knowing that most of the exceptional faculty with whom I had already established relationships would be the ones leading this program. Upon entering this program, I knew I wanted to immerse myself in both the theory and experience-driven classes the program offered.
After completing my master’s degree, I had a strong urge to continue growing in communications-related positions, regardless of the industry. As I mentioned previously, my first job out of college was in the real estate industry. Honestly, I was nervous because I did not have prior knowledge of this industry. However, I knew I would be just fine if I put everything I learned while at UIW into practice–and I was.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is the University of the Incarnate Word’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts 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?
[Jorge Jones] The Master of Arts in Communications degree is designed to be completed in 36 hours of graduate study coursework. 12 of those hours are core communication courses, 21 are elective courses, and the remaining three are mastery credits which are the capstone or thesis work. After completing my core requirements, I was very excited to continue advancing in the program because I had the opportunity to choose elective courses based in my interests. Some of the courses I chose were: Communication Studies in Latino Culture, Strategic Communications in National & International Media, and a seminar in convergent media which specialized in social media–all of which I profoundly enjoyed and from which I learned so much.
Two of the most important skills I developed while completing my Master’s degree were how to effectively conduct research and to also express myself clearly and effectively in written communication. I attribute my mastery of these skills to Dr. Liu, Dr. Reyes Garcia, Dr. Perry and Dr. Guinn. These skills are relevant to me to this day because I still apply them in my daily life, both personally and professionally, whether it is in my current job or any other instances where I might need them. Written communication is a big part of my current job, as I assist in the communication strategy of over 40,000 alumni located across the globe.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your final capstone project? What communication issue or challenge did you explore, and what was the structure of your capstone project? What advice would you give current and future students of UIW’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts regarding the successful completion of their capstone project (or thesis)?
[Jorge Jones] It’s probably not a common answer but completing my capstone project was a very enjoyable and unforgettable experience for me. I still remember one of my very first classes as a graduate student with Dr. Guinn. If I can recall correctly, the class was Introduction to Graduate Studies in Communication Arts. During this class, Dr. Guinn picked our brains to see what topics we would eventually want to complete our thesis or capstone projects on. I have a vivid memory of an exercise Dr. Guinn had us do involving a triangle. In this said triangle exercise, our task was to think of three topics we were really passionate about. We then had to explore how these three topics related to each other for a possible thesis or capstone project. I started brainstorming and knew my three passions right away–professional sports, social media, and Spanish language. This simple exercise eventually led me to researching how professional sports in the United States utilize Spanish language on social media to attract Hispanic audiences–a topic I wouldn’t have linked if it wasn’t for Dr. Guinn’s exercise.
The structure of my capstone project consisted of a literature review, content analysis of the topic, and interviews of Spanish-speaking Hispanic sports fans. Each interviewee was asked a series of questions regarding their perspectives on how they consume American professional sports through social media platforms. My faculty committee chair was Dr. Zazil Reyes Garcia–a very passionate professor who focuses on race, gender, and cultural studies. I met with Dr. Zazil Reyes Garcia regularly and she was always available to assist me and guide me throughout the process of my capstone.
My advice to current and future students completing their capstone or thesis project is to start planning and structuring your project as early as your first semester in graduate school. This early planification process will allow you to seek alternative options in case you encounter unexpected complications you had not taken into consideration. My second and final piece of advice is to always ask for help if you need it–especially from your professors. I cannot stress how helpful all of the communications professors at UIW were whenever I needed guidance or clarification in any question I had. As a student, that meant the world to me.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from UIW’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Jorge Jones] In my current job and previous positions, social & digital media have played an important role in my short professional career. Some of the biggest takeaways from this program were the tools taught to me in the courses of said subjects. After graduation, I had the knowledge and confidence to apply everything I learned in a professional setting; whether it was in the sports industry, real estate, or higher education, I was able to fall back on the basic concepts I learned throughout this program.
Lastly and most important are the personal and professional relationships I was able to develop while I was a student of this program. To this day, in some way or another, I continue to interact with and learn from the wonderful people that played such a big part in my academic journey as a graduate student. I’ve had instances in my professional career where I’m working on a specific project and I reach out to former professors or classmates for their advice or input. I know I can count on them and they know they can count on me.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting the Master of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of the Incarnate Word? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at UIW or another university?
[Jorge Jones] My advice to any student starting their Master of Arts in Communication at UIW is to take advantage of the access students have to the professors. One of the things I valued the most as a graduate student was how accessible professors were with all their students. I was always encouraged to talk to them after class or visit them in their office to clear any doubts on whatever it was we were learning at the time. In my experience, those short 5-10 minute conversations I had with them evolved into a valuable relationship I still have with them to this day. My second piece of advice is to fully immerse yourself in the program. Studying communications is such an interesting topic–if you think about it, human communication has been there since the beginning of time and it’s so fascinating to learn how it has evolved over thousands of years.
If you are still undecided on whether to apply to a master’s in communications program or not, I would advise you to take some time to contemplate the process and outcomes of both options you have in front of you. Research the topics you will be learning and ask yourself if this is something you really want to do. Full immersion is required for this program and if you immerse yourself with passion and determination, you will be just fine.
If you are wondering how to make your application competitive, I would advise you to showcase the skills and values you would bring to the program. Whether it’s your upbringing, previous job positions, or past experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today, make sure you share these special things about you. Another piece of advice is to have a clear idea of what you want to do with a master’s in communications degree once you graduate. What are your passions? How will you make the world a better place with this degree?
Thank you, Mr. Jones, for your excellent insight into the University of the Incarnate Word’s Master of Arts in Communication Arts program!