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A Place for Communication Studies at ELA

For Communication Studies major Samantha Gravity ’17, spending a semester at Emerson College Los Angeles was a no brainer.

“Emerson gives you so many resources,” said Gravity. “There are so many opportunities [in LA]; you’ve got to reach for them while you can.”

Some of the opportunities in LA that Gravity has taken advantage of include interning at The Price Is Right during the summer, exploring the West Coast as often as she can, and holding two internships during the fall semester. Gravity gets to flex her creative juices at an internship for the production company Good Universe and also works as an editorial intern at Render Media. Both internships have allowed Gravity to do something she loves—research—and explore her interests. She calls the internship experience invaluable because she’s gaining a wealth of experience.

“Communications is at the heart of any career,” said Gravity. “It’s a very flexible career path where you can do something more creative or on the business side of things.”

The discipline of communications is broad but central to any activity. Whether on social media, face-to-face, in a writer’s room, at a public relations firm, classroom, or any setting, making sure that your ideas are communicated in the way they are intended is key. Communication Studies students such as Gravity explore a variety of fields including politics, advocacy, civic engagement, public relations, and negotiation.

While many of the students at ELA are pursuing careers in the entertainment industry and interning at studios and media companies, beyond Hollywood, LA offers many opportunities for Communication Studies majors.

“There are other avenues here that are outside the scope of what you would naturally think about when you come out to LA,” said Dr. Angela Cooke-Jackson, associate professor of health and behavioral science as well as intercultural communication in the Communication Studies Department at Emerson College.

Cooke-Jackson, who is a visiting professor at ELA this semester, said teaching in Los Angeles has opened her eyes to the opportunities and benefits that LA offers for Communication Studies majors.

“Bringing Communication Studies students here would be hugely enriching for them,” said Cooke-Jackson. “You get to come out to Los Angeles, you get a sense of autonomy, you get to start pushing yourself to start thinking about your individual niche area, and you get to do all that without a lot of dictatorship in your life.”

Dr. Angela Cooke-Jackson, associate professor of health and behavioral science as well as intercultural communication in the Communication Studies Department at Emerson College. Photo/Daryl Paranada

Cooke-Jackson advises Communication Studies students interested in spending a semester at ELA to begin by researching—a couple of semesters before they intend to apply—some of the companies they would be interested in working for based on their interests. Then, students should look at some of the courses offered at ELA and consider taking classes that might help them feel more well-rounded. Once they have found at least five companies they are interested in, Cooke-Jackson recommends that students reach out to those places and see if they offer internships and what the guidelines are.

Even though Communication Studies is a broad field of study, Cooke-Jackson said it’s important for students to focus on what they are passionate about.

“Where do you really excel when you see yourself in your day-to-day life?” asked Cooke-Jackson. “I hone in on that because a Communication student can go into different career trajectories, and if you get into that door you need to be conscious of who you are and what you bring to the table.”

For Gravity, the internship experiences and opportunities in LA have helped her determine what path she might choose after graduation.

“At the core of Communication Studies is being an independent person who puts effort into getting what you want,” said Gravity. “It’s the most flexible major. You can do a lot with it and being in LA is a great place to explore those possibilities.”

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