Communication Leadership Student Stories – Hallie on balancing work with Comm Lead

I found Comm Lead by chance in 2018; my husband and I had just relocated to Washington state from southern California. We were in a new place with no family or friends in the area and were looking for ways to build community. I had been considering graduate school for a while and it just felt like the right time to do it.

My Bachelor’s degree is in History, but I was working as a Social Media Manager for a nonprofit at the time. I was considering a Master’s in Art History and design school when I found Comm Lead. It felt like the best of both worlds; I could expand my professional skills in storytelling and content creation, and also engage in a critical study of media and communications. It was clear Comm Lead would prepare me professionally and personally for a new path, so I applied and was accepted to Cohort ‘19 with a Digital Media (MCDM) focus.

Balancing Work with Comm Lead

I knew that going to graduate school posed a few challenges for me – I had a 2+ hour commute and I was still working 20-hour weeks at jobs I did not want to give up. But that’s one of the great things about Comm Lead, the program is flexible. All courses and events happen in the evenings and over weekends. This meant I could pick classes that fit into my workdays and I was also able to participate in the extra offerings, like networking or cohort events.

In the program, alongside many students working full-time, I was also able to balance 10 units with my professional commitments. Faculty and staff also recognize this reality for many students, they always work to ensure that students feel supported and capable of doing it all. I don’t know if this would have been as possible in programs other than Comm Lead.

Partner Programs

In my final year at Comm Lead, I decided to apply for a Comm Lead Partner Program Project.

I was selected to work as a Project Coordinator for a Washington State Department health campaign. The experience was fantastic! I gained a ton of professional experience in the role, met other students in the program, and got the chance to put my education to work in a real-world scenario. I was also able to apply the experience towards my education by enrolling in Independent Research for academic credits so it fit into my schedule easily.

Partner Projects are great because they…

  • Give students direct work experience with organizations in Washington state
  • Are diverse opportunities, ranging from content creation to project management and everything in between
  • Provide scholarships to students for their work on the project

My Take-away

The cross-disciplinary approach of Comm Lead has allowed me to take courses on data analytics, data marketing, audio storytelling (we get to listen to and produce our own podcasts!), the role of listening in leadership, storytelling in a variety of formats, crisis communication tactics and so much more. The faculty at Comm Lead is passionate about helping us to find our voices as storytellers and leaders in our communities. I’m so glad I found Comm Lead and look forward to seeing this wonderful community continue to grow!

If you’re considering Communication Leadership, want to know more about the student experience in the program, or have a question you can reach out to me at