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An inside look at the strategic communication major

When you major in strategic communication, you start applying your skills to relevant projects and internships right away. For Lily Vander Molen, that practical experience gave her a pathway to meaningful work that she loves.


  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: October 2, 2019
  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: October 2, 2019

Meet Lily Vander Molen, a strategic communication and film & media double-major. Here are some of the experiences in the communication department that have shaped her the most.

Why did you decide to major in strategic communication?

I found myself really enjoying a communication course that I took my sophomore year. I looked into strategic communication and found that it seemed to pair best with my film classes. Strategic communication is really just another way to tell stories and a great way to learn about the people you're telling the stories to. I’ve found that film courses have helped me in strategic communication courses, and vice versa.

What are your communication classes like?

Communications is very hands-on, so you get to quickly apply a lot of the things that you learn in class. One of the best classes I’ve ever taken was a communication class in which we worked with clients on campus that needed help with advertising, PR, and marketing. I worked with the health sciences programs that were about to launch. Employers are always impressed when they see the experience that I have from that class alone, not to mention my other communication classes.

The professors are also incredible. They are always willing to work with you. I know that I can talk to my professors about anything, class-related or not. The relationships I have with my professors have been incredibly helpful in my learning and for growing in my major.

What are you doing for your internship?

I’m an intern at Henna Crowns of Courage, a nonprofit that works to make women and children dealing with cancer or going through chemotherapy feel beautiful. The organization was founded and is run by my supervisor, Amanda Gilbert. She gives women and children personal crowns of henna. You may have seen her 2017 entry in ArtPrize.

My job is to help create content that will lead to more funding. Over the summer, I have been filming the crownings and interviewing different women who have been crowned. We are also in the process of creating more content for the nonprofit’s Instagram page (@hennacrownsofcourage) as well as a podcast.

This internship has been one of my favorite experiences. I have met some incredibly strong women. And it’s something that means a lot to me because people close to me have been touched by cancer. Through my time with Henna Crowns of Courage, I’ve found that I want to use my talents to tell stories like this.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently talking with the Muskegon Lumberjacks hockey team about being their media relations intern this winter. My goal is to find a communications job and work on some other projects of interest on the side, like making a documentary.

  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: October 2, 2019

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