Matthew Braun, '01 communicative arts
Public relations specialist at Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee

I decided to be a communicative arts major because an introduction to public relations class and marketing class I had with Professor Terry Stetzenbach had a real impact on me. She encouraged me to pursue public relations, and I had a fair amount of special event experience. I thought it could be fun to make an impact for a business or organization by influencing people's thought process, which is what intrigued me about public relations.

I'm a public relations specialist at Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee. I work with financial representatives and managing partners across the country and help them in building awareness in their communities through public relations tactics. I help them with media requests, as well as other marketing ventures.  Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual, I was a public relations generalist at two agencies in the Milwaukee area and worked with both local and national media on behalf of a variety of clients, including Miller High Life, Lienenkugel's, Briggs & Stratton, Major League Baseball and Dremel.

The communication program gave me a well-rounded understanding of basic communication processes, and the communicative arts major gave me experiences in business, communication, graphic design and more. It helped me to become strong in multi-tasking, which is a critical component in the world of public relations.

The communicative arts major is what you make of it. You can easily just go to class, get by, graduate and have a degree. But ultimately, you have to push yourself, get everything you can out of the classes and then showcase what you learned when you're "out there" in the real world.  I think there is a perception among a lot of people that a communication major is a simple major and maybe not the most applicable in the business world. I've heard a lot of people say, "What are you going to do with a communications degree?"

I say, "You can do whatever you want with it, as long as you have a passion in what you do." There are so many people who could benefit immensely from basic communication skills learned in a communication degree. The skills you learn become a part of your daily life, at home or the office. Embrace the program and the opportunities it offers you.