Catherine JonesApril 10, 2018
Catherine Jones is a digital strategist who is committed to helping candidates and advocacy groups make an impact. When she’s not behind a computer, Catherine enjoys eating good food with good people, listening to live music, and spending time with friends.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I worked as a teaching assistant in the Communication department and Political Science department, was a member of Phi Sigma Pi (a national honor fraternity), and a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (the Political Science honor fraternity).
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I went to grad school immediately after undergrad to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs at Mizzou. My years at Truman energized my love for learning and I knew I wanted to take my formal education one step further.
What was your first job after graduation?
I began working at GPS Impact as a Graduate Intern my first year in Grad School. GPS Impact is a full-service public affairs and multimedia advertising agency that specializes in digital strategy for political campaigns and advocacy groups. As a Graduate Intern, I had the opportunity to participate in a wide range of projects and experience different parts of the agency.
A year later, I accepted a full-time position as an Account Manager, writing digital content and helping campaigns and advocacy groups with their online strategy. When I accepted my first job at the agency, I knew I’d found my people and I’ve been there ever since.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I currently live in Kansas City and work as the Media Director for GPS Impact. Everyday, I get to work with an incredibly talented and thoughtful team to help political clients across the country effectively communicate their message in the digital space.
In my position, I develop media strategies for political campaigns and advocacy groups and lead our in-house media buying team. When you combine working in an ever-changing digital landscape with the volatility of working in politics, there is never a dull moment! My job is fast paced, exciting, and incredibly fulfilling.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
My Liberal Arts education and experience at Truman shaped who I am today on both a personal and professional level. My experiences at Truman taught me to think critically, work hard, and consider other perspectives.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Hmm. I’m not sure any class sticks out as a class that I disliked, but I am grateful for my advertising course, political communication courses, organizational communication course, and business and professional communication course. They come in handy everyday.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
I was proud that I got to present original research at the Central State Communication Association‘s (CSCA) annual conference. I got to go to Iowa during the Iowa Caucuses and did political communication field research.
I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment at the end of each semester. While other big moments happened during my time at Truman, nothing felt as good as turning in numerous research projects, team projects, and taking finals at the end of each semester. I enjoyed pushing myself and demonstrating how much I had learned.
At the time, the weeks leading up to finals seemed too daunting to be fun. Looking back, some of my favorite memories include sitting around the kitchen table with my roommate at 1 am studying for our exams.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Truman is the best place for a student to study because you are constantly surrounded by faculty and staff that care about you and will invest in your success, you will be surrounded by high caliber students that will elevate your classroom experience, and learning will be fun.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s special to leave every class feeling smarter than when you walked in.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Find your area of interest and submit research to a conference. It’s a great opportunity to explore something you’re interested in, find mentors within the department, travel and have fun! I had the opportunity to participate in an Iowa Caucus course in 2012 that allowed us to conduct research at the Iowa Caucuses.
We had a blast and later got accepted to present at CSCA‘s annual regional conference. My partner and I did research on the importance of repetition in message penetration and I think about it constantly in my field.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
Get involved in issues you care about. Volunteer with local campaigns. Use online tutorials to learn HTML. Run social media accounts for organizations you’re involved in. Pay attention to changes in the industry. Pay attention to the news. Never stop learning.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
Truman and Kirksville have such a special place in my heart.
I miss my best friends being within a 5 mile radius (we’re spread out across the country these days — so many of them are doing amazing things!). I also miss talking to my professors regularly about everything happening in the world. They were my friends, too.
I miss feeling mentally stretched by the conversations in the classroom.
Is that too many things? Life after college is good too.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“Think it, don’t feel it” (If you had a course with Dr. Self, you’ll get the joke).
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
I would want to tag team the political communication courses with Dr. Self and Dr. Yaquinto. Taking these courses gave me a leg up when I took my first job in the industry and I’d want to set other students up for the same success.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
My biggest advice to anyone in college or getting ready to start college would be to pick majors that sound interesting to you. I chose my majors by going through the catalog and reading the description for each class offered at Truman. I highlighted the classes I thought sounded fun and tallied them up. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I chose Communication and Political Science because I knew I would enjoy the coursework. Pursue things you are passionate about and the rest will work itself out. I now use both of my degrees, everyday, doing something I love. How cool is that?