About Garrett Sherwood: Garrett Sherwood is a Senior Lead Campaign Manager at Branded Entertainment Network, a global entertainment marketing company based in Los Angeles. In this role, he manages a team that connects major consumer brands with social media influencers, personally handling the top accounts himself. Before joining Branded Entertainment Network in 2017, Mr. Sherwood worked as Senior Project Manager at the creative agency Big Monocle in Provo, Utah. For the past six years, he has also served as Operations and Marketing Manager for a nationally-touring musical production, Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera, which he co-wrote.
Mr. Sherwood graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government. In 2016, he completed his master’s degree through the Master of Strategic Communication program at Westminster College.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Garrett Sherwood] I received my BA in Political Science from BYU-Idaho, followed by my Master of Strategic Communication from Westminster College. I am currently employed at Branded Entertainment Network as a Sr. Lead Campaign Manager, where my team and I run global influencer marketing campaigns for some of the top consumer brands in the world, working and contracting with thousands of social media stars to integrate these brands into their content.
I previously worked at Big Monocle, a full-stack creative agency as the Sr. Project Manager, and for the last decade I have also been the Operations and Marketing Manager for a nationally-touring Rock Opera, Deep Love: A Ghostly Rock Opera, of which I am also a co-author.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication?
[Garrett Sherwood] I’ve always considered myself a creative person, but with an instinct to manage and lead the creative projects I was involved in. In 2014, I was managing an operation of more than 30 people for a fully-staged, nationally touring Rock Opera that I co-authored. I found myself in charge of everything from finances, to marketing and branding, to logistics and project management, and I was basically forced to figure all of that out as I went, never really knowing how to excel, instead settling for just getting by.
I never had plans to pursue a graduate degree, but when I came across a description of the MSC program at Westminster in an advertisement my brain was screaming, “this is exactly what I need!” As I researched it a little more, the way the program was described as fast-paced, having a lot of flexibility, and something for self-starters, that really drew me in. It was as if someone had created this program for someone exactly like me. I applied almost immediately.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of your experience completing the curriculum for this program? What key concepts did the program emphasize, and how did the five specific content areas (Rhetoric and Strategic Public Relations, Visual Communication and Brand Strategy, Organizational Communication and Culture, Integrated Marketing Communication, and Instructional Design) inform your learning outcomes? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?
[Garrett Sherwood] Each semester revolved around a specific content area that collectively enhanced and gave polish to my skills and my resume as a communicator. The different emphases built upon one another, with a foundation of Rhetoric, Writing and Editing, and then added upon that knowledge were Organizational Communication and Integrated Marketing. The curriculum for each of these content areas were of similar structures of executing projects both individually and with a team.
I believe the intent of how the curriculum was designed was to guide the student through a development of both hard and soft skills. This is exactly what I experienced. The specific proficiencies gained from the content area each semester were paired with skills such as how to manage a team, how to manage a client, how to build and execute strategy, how to be efficient and effective under varied requirements and deadlines, and how to review and analyze post-mortem.
[MastersinCommunications.com] As a student of Westminster College’s online/hybrid program format, what were your experiences interacting with course faculty and peers both in and outside of classes? What learning technologies did this program use, and were they effective in helping you feel connected to your professors and class cohort?
[Garrett Sherwood] The hybrid, project-based model in which I participated was brilliant in how it provided my cohort and me a lot individual, personalized access to the professors, while also providing a lot of flexibility to complete the coursework at a pace that worked best.
Much of the time I was in the program I was living out of state, and so I interacted with my team and professors via email, phone calls, and video calls. Professors had set times available for online office hours but were very responsive any time I needed a question answered or something reviewed. Essentially, they acted as advisors, available almost whenever I needed them. Working with the team required a little more planning to align schedules of five busy people, which is a skill unto itself and something that was polished throughout the program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Westminster College’s program is unique in that it includes a fully funded international trip during which students work collaboratively on a field project for a non-profit or other organization. Could you describe your experiences on this trip, and what learning outcomes, professional connections, and hands-on experience you gained from it?
[Garrett Sherwood] My cohort spent a week in South Africa working with the Desmond Tutu Foundation. We worked with local youth who were affected by HIV/AIDS, and together with them created short awareness videos around the disease to educate and destigmatize. We essentially served as the guides for these kids as they conceptualized, scripted, filmed, and starred in these short videos.
I could not imagine a better and more impactful way to end my MSC program. The biggest learning I gained from it was that the communication foundation we had cemented over the previous five semesters could be applicable in so many situations. Though we ourselves were not experienced in filmmaking, we applied the communication principles we learned to help the youth there create something of high quality.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Garrett Sherwood] Though Project Management was not its own content area, it was weaved into all the semesters in such a way that helped me build a strong proficiency. It may also have been the part of the program that I most enjoyed. So much so, that my first job after completing my MSC was a Project Manager at a creative agency, and that seems to be where my career continues to head.
Within the curriculum, I think it was the first semester on Rhetoric that has most impacted my professional advancement. The critical thinking required for a rhetoric-focused mind has been essential in just about all high-value professional challenges I’ve had. The semester that focused on Organizational Communication also really stands out for me partially because it was the curriculum that was most foreign to me at the time, but some of the knowledge I gained has truly help me navigate my career and become a leader with my employer.
My professional network also grew, both from fellow alumni that I worked with in my cohort, but I also got to meet and connect with other MSC alumni while in the program. I still keep in contact with most of these individuals, as well as all of my professors.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it is at Westminster College or another university?
[Garrett Sherwood] For students just beginning the MSC program, I would suggest finding clients to do your projects for that will really challenge you and reward you with memorable experiences. I wish I would have done a little more searching for potential clients. Instead, a couple of semesters I gravitated towards the easiest or most available client instead of the best one.
For anyone who is considering an MSC program, I can’t recommend it enough. For anyone that is considering furthering their education but is hesitant about going back to school, I would especially recommend the hybrid, project-based MSC program. It has already opened so many doors for me that would otherwise be closed. The most obvious example of this is that my first job after completing the program was for a company that I had taken on as a client for one of my MSC projects. They were so impressed with the work we did, that as soon as I graduated, they offered me a job. The MSC program really kickstarted my career, but it was also full of some of the most memorable, rewarding experiences I’ve had.
Thank you, Mr. Sherwood, for your excellent insights on Westminster College’s Master of Strategic Communication program!