Nicole FloodJune 5, 2018
Nicole Flood grew up in Kahoka, MO. Currently, she is a nonprofit communications strategist who works as a Communications Coordinator at Saving Sight in St. Louis. In this role, she does everything from managing social media to creating marketing materials for surgeons to writing compelling recipient stories. Nicole has also contributed articles as a freelance writer for over seven years with publications in mid-Missouri. Her work has appeared in the Columbia Business Times, COMO Living Magazine, Jefferson City Magazine and Professional Daym. She loves to travel, explore St. Louis, and spend time with family and friends.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
I was very active in the service organization Circle K International, serving as president, treasurer, and public relations chair while at Truman. I was also a member of the Advertising and Public Relations Club, Lambda Pi Eta, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key International, and played co-ed slow-pitch softball.
Outside of Truman, I worked at the Kirksville License Office all four years of college. This experience allowed me to connect with the community outside of campus and helped me gain work experience and time management skills. I miss walking to Pagliai’s Pizza for soup and a slice with my License Office ladies.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first job after graduation was as an administrative assistant in the Dean’s Office at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. This position was a wonderful first step for me in that I was able to network with many individuals who have been instrumental in my career development. Getting to work with the Director of Communications at the medical school and the Director of Alumni Affairs helped me learn more about where I wanted to go next in my career. The Director of Communications pushed me to begin freelance writing, which I still do and enjoy today. The Director of Alumni Affairs pushed and encouraged me to apply to graduate school and served as a letter of reference for my application as well.
Working there opened the door for a promotion within the medical school. After working in the Dean’s Office for 3 years, I was promoted to a Program Coordinator position with the Office of Medical Education at the School of Medicine.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I knew I wanted to attend graduate school at the University of Missouri, but was torn between pursuing a master’s degree in Hospital Administration or in Journalism. I decided to apply for jobs at Mizzou after I graduated from Truman to gain work experience and to narrow down exactly what I wanted to pursue.
I ended up getting hired in the Dean’s Office at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and reported 50/50 to the Dean’s Office and the Communications/Alumni Affairs Office. This was great because it allowed me to see both of the majors I was considering while gaining work experience. Through this work, I realized the communications world was really where I wanted to be and went for my Master of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in Strategic Communications.
Additionally, working full-time at Mizzou while attending graduate school allowed me to receive a 75 percent discount on my graduate tuition. While in graduate school, my thesis topic was Health Beliefs About HIV/AIDS Among South African and American Millennials. I was able to tailor my courses to be focused around health communications and also created my own course within the J-School to be able to join public health and social work students in a summer study abroad class in South Africa. I graduated in May of 2016.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
As I neared graduation at Mizzou, I knew I was ready to work in the nonprofit health communications sector. I applied for a Communications Coordinator position with Saving Sight in St. Louis and I still work there today! Saving Sight is a nonprofit organization that serves as an eye bank and works to recover, process, and distribute corneal tissue for transplantation. It is humbling getting to talk with organ donor families and corneal recipients about how our programs and the gift of sight have made an impact in their lives.
We are a communications team of two at Saving Sight, so I have been fortunate to be able to learn and do all aspects of communications for our organization. In this role, I manage our social media platforms, write many of our web stories, interview program recipients for both written stories and video, create and edit the internal and external newsletters each month, work to create marketing collateral to go out to our surgeon partners, and work with local media to put out press releases.
On behalf of our organization, I am a member of Donate Life Missouri (the state team affiliate of Donate Life America) and manage their social media page. Donate Life Missouri is a partnership between the state’s organ and tissue procurement organizations and the State of Missouri.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
My liberal arts education has helped me in countless ways. Throughout my time at Truman, professors encouraged me to think freely and apply multiple disciplinary approaches to the work I did. Being required to take courses outside of my major showed me I could figure out subject matter that was outside my comfort zone. It helped foster a passion for lifetime learning. This has been an asset when learning new things in my career. I’m always willing to do research and try to figure out the answers I don’t know, whether that’s creating a budget or learning how to edit in Photoshop.
My time at Truman also taught me how to advocate for myself and look for solutions to problems that seem insurmountable. This really helped me in graduate school to complete my research and create my own course to study in South Africa.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Well, it seems I’m not unique in this answer, but Communication Theory. This course was a challenge for me and one that seemed like it didn’t have application outside of the walls of Barnett Hall. Yet, it turned out that this course was an invaluable foundation for me as I began graduate school and had to determine which theories were best to study for my thesis research. The field of Communication is also interesting in that several theories have multidisciplinary application. I saw this come to light in various projects and abstracts I helped with while working at the medical school and with our researchers at Saving Sight.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
I think my greatest accomplishment at Truman was my involvement in Circle K International and serving in leadership roles, including president. Seeing the club grow and impact the Kirksville community through service events I helped create was inspiring. This organization instilled in me the value of giving back to your local community. Because of this, I always try to find organizations to volunteer with in the communities I work and live in today.
One of the organizations I’m currently involved with is MindsEye. MindsEye is a virtual newsstand that connects people with vision loss to the news and entertainment. It’s a free radio reading service serving people who are blind or have visual or print impairments. As a volunteer reader, I go in and record myself reading various magazines for their theme hours a few days a month. This experience has been wonderful for me in that in combines my love for nonprofits and volunteering with my COMM nerd side. In my day-to-day work, I rarely deal with audio, so it’s been interesting learning more about radio broadcast. As a consumer and creator of print media, it’s great getting to share the articles with those who wouldn’t have access to print media without MindsEye.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Truman is a wonderful environment of peers, staff, and faculty who push you to be the best version of yourself. I was routinely challenged and inspired by those around me. The courses and professors also taught me to think critically and prepared me for graduate school and work. The size of campus also is great because you always see someone you know when you walk across the quad. I loved feeling like I was truly part of the campus while there.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Take part in extra-curricular activities within the COMM department – KTRM, TMN-TV, The Index, Detours, Ad & PR Club, etc. These organizations will give you great experience outside of the classroom and will be of great benefit after college when you begin to interview for jobs. These organizations are also places you’ll make great friends with future communications professionals. If your experience is anything like mine was, you’ll be amazed and inspired 10 years later by the career paths your classmates have chosen.
I would also encourage COMM students to do an internship. You’ll gain valuable experience and it allows you to apply what you’ve been learning in the classroom. I was the Community and Public Relations Intern with the South Carolina Stingrays minor league hockey team in Charleston, SC the summer between my junior and senior year. I learned so much that summer, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I learned what it was like to work with a communications team and got to do things like create newsletters and run community events. Personally, I learned how to navigate and make a life for myself being far away from family and friends. Prior to this internship, I’d never lived outside of Missouri.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
If you are interested in nonprofit communications and/or health communications, start developing relationships and exploring what careers are possible in those fields. I was a member of Circle K International while at Truman and that experience and volunteerism in a service organization helped show my passion for nonprofits when I interviewed at Saving Sight. I would also say look for organizations that inspire you versus only looking for jobs with a title you would like. My first job after college had the title of administrative assistant instead of a public relations or communications title. But that position helped me get my foot in the door at the university where I wanted to do my graduate coursework and helped me hone my passion for health communication.
Lastly, never be afraid to go up to people who have a career similar to what you want someday and ask for advice. In my first year at the Dean’s Office, I asked my Director of Communications if we could sit down for 30 minutes so I could ask him questions about career development. I asked him, if in 15 years I want to be in your position, what should I be doing now to help gain that experience? One of the things he suggested was freelance writing. I will always be grateful to his advice and willingness to sit down with me.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
I miss being able to walk to the SUB and bump into friends for dinner. No matter where you went, you could easily connect with people. I miss being able to walk everywhere from campus to downtown. I also miss all the conversations from classroom chats to the lounges with my fellow Truman students. The free exchange of ideas and hearing what classes and topics excited people always left me feeling recharged and ready to tackle life.
And of course I miss Pagliai’s Pizza!
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
COMM – The Key to Building Relationships
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?
Health Communication Ethics – This course would focus on what it means to be a communications practitioner in a healthcare setting and the ethical implications and obligations you have when sharing patient and recipient stories.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
One of the greatest gifts of a liberal arts education is the focus on a multidisciplinary approach to education. Take courses that interest you even if they’re outside of your major. The great thing about a COMM major is that nearly every single company and field needs a communications team.