Academic Cover Letter

To Whom It May Concern,

I am thrilled about my May 2015 graduation from the famously beautiful Elon University. My last four years full of classes, events, clubs, and master guest speakers have contributed to my personal growth, social awareness, and global citizenship. The Elon community has molded my scholarly identity into one that any college graduate can be proud of. I’m delighted to say that I chose an academic and professional path that will exemplify my strengths and passions for many years to come.

My Mission

 The label "Strategic Communications and International Studies double major with a Spanish minor" doesn't begin to explain my personal, collegiate, and professional endeavors. I’m a college student transitioning into the professional world exploring my strengths and passions through networking, internships, side jobs, clubs and overall experiences.

My mission is to learn as much as I can through each and every one of my experiences to gain the most knowledge and expertise that will prove me to be an asset to my future employer.

My experiences range from social media marketing and blog and article writing to graphic design, photography and event planning and promotion. I’m proud to say that I will be working as a Public Relations Intern with Tierney Communications in Philadelphia after graduation on a track to become an Account Coordinator and the Executive Assistant to the COO of Tierney, Molly Watson. Tierney is a full-service agency that helps clients with public relations, advertising, social media, digital, media planning, and many other opportunities and challenges.

Academics

I've always been a communicative persuader. Whether it was presenting my argument to the class or displaying complex information through an infographic (exemplified in my Alzheimer's Epidemic post), I have used my words and design skills to strategically convey a certain message. To develop this strength is why I decided to be a strategic communications major.

At Elon University and though my internships, I've studied a very diverse Strategic Communications curriculum where I've looked at advertising, public relations, social media, writing, and production. I'm interested in account services. I love building and maintaining client relationships in both advertising and public relations and exploring traditional and emerging ways of communicating with people. Organizing agency resources and team members for solving client problems has always been a fun challenge for me.

 I gained valuable professional experiences as a Marketing and PR intern for Uplifted in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In this capacity, I learned strong communications skills using a variety of mediums as well as the importance of research and how to work independently and under a strict deadline. Working directly with clients’ needs enhanced my interpersonal communication skills as well. I applied that knowledge to my other internships. As the Social Media and Marketing intern for the Give of Life Institute, I expanded my communication skills to include graphic design, social media planning and management, and website development. I also worked directly with CEOs and other leaders in the field to develop a strategic plan for the launch of the company’s new website.

I’m fascinated by the different ways a brand can display itself to its audience. I recently gave a presentation about Coca-Cola and included the Open Happiness campaign. This was a class full of a variety of majors and I was surprised with the comments and responses I received. Some students didn't believe it was ethical for Coca-Cola to convince people that Coca-Cola equaled happiness since it’s an unhealthy drink and because of its “negative” influence in poorer areas. It was the first time I had to defend strategic communications and it caught me a bit off-guard. I always thought that being a persuader was a strength, not an ethical weakness. I responded to those negative comments saying that the job of a strategic communicator is to give the public an authentic description of what a brand stands for. Coca-Cola hires probably 50 agencies at a time to work on different projects in order to portray its true brand. It is interesting that while a public health major would see the Open Happiness campaign as an ethical disaster, strategic communications majors would think of it as public relations and advertising masterpiece.

I am also an international studies major and Spanish minor. I've been lucky to choose areas of study that I truly love. Exploring international studies has allowed me to learn how my society and I fit in the global community. I, fortunately, inherited the travel bug from my mother and that is basically what I spend all my money on. Instead of getting a car in college, I studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina for four months and traveled all around South America. When I was 17 I spent all the money from my summer jobs to go to Spain with my best friend. Becoming an international studies major has deepened my passion for international travel and putting myself in other cultures. This area of study showed me, though, that international travel and international study is not just about me—it’s about the people I meet when I’m in Spain or Argentina. It’s about the people with whom I spend time in the hostels in Peru or hike a glacier in Patagonia. My only hope is that these individuals from all over the world learn from me just as much as I learn from them.

Developing my Spanish skills all throughout middle school, high school, and college helped me pursue these relationships. I believe that without studying a second or third language, it is impossible to fully emerge oneself in that language’s culture.  For example, even though I spoke Spanish, it was very difficult for me to understand Argentine Spanish because it is much different from the Spanish I learned in school or in Spain. At first, I thought that my host mom was always in a bad mood or upset with me because she would speak somewhat rudely to me. Turns out, that is just the language. People in Argentina are very blunt with their words and if translated directly to English, one could interpret it as rudeness. It’s important to not only know the language but also understand the characteristics of it. Once I fully embraced the Argentine dialect, I was able to bond with my host mom and Argentine friends more than ever before which enriched my experience.

Elon has given me many opportunities to add to my online portfolio. Next, I will explore some of my best work that adds to my personal and academic development.

Strategic Communications Disciplinary Theory

The assignment called Effective Brand Communications consisted of research, analysis and a report on a brand from which Strategic Communications experts can learn. I identified a company and brand that I believed illustrated effective Strategic Communications and is “doing it right.” The company I chose was Always and I focused on its “Like a Girl” campaign. I wanted to display how Always engaged its publics, used multiple communications platforms, and created memorable “sticky” messages. I discussed how these various “tactics” and activities they engage in illustrates this. I identified and analyzed the differences or “blurred” lines between traditional Public Relations and Advertising with this campaign and described what lessons other brands could learn from their strategies. 

Modes of Inquiry

I facilitated in a survey report for my Strategic Research Methods class. In this report, we reviewed our goals and objectives, methodology and our data analysis and detailed findings. After that, we described the implications and knowledge gained from our survey research. Finally, the report included any of our shortcomings and future research as well as our survey questionnaire and SPSS data.

Global Citizenship

The assignment called Honest Streets: Informal Work in Buenos Aires consisted of immense research, analysis, and a complete final paper reporting on my findings.  I wrote this thesis about the culture of informal work in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This paper allowed me to reflect on the daily struggles that the people of Buenos Aires must go through with a weak economy and lack of jobs.

Personal Responsibility

I designed and produced an infographic in my Corporate Publishing course using Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop. I created this infographic for a Sigma Kappa Cupcake Bar event on Elon University’s campus to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer’s disease. As a strategic communicator, it is my responsibility to present a message to a target audience in a way that they can clearly understand and remember. infographics rely on visual representations of information, data, and knowledge to present complex information quickly and clearly. Infographics can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. 

Looking Towards the Future

My two majors and minors have given me the opportunity to develop my own skills to assist a future employer. I have learned to think creatively and open-mindedly. I’m excited to show my future employer, Tierney, that my liberal arts education will not just provide them with an excellent communicator, but also a well-rounded global citizen.

If you would like to see examples of academic work or have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at shelly.maxwell13@gmail.com or (610) 659-8749.