Alumna Carolyn Hurley, PhD says she entered the Communication field with little understanding of research, and no idea what she wanted to do or study. But that's okay, she says.
"The faculty at UB is so diverse, that you are more likely to find a million things you want to do rather than none at all."
She advises new applicants that a graduate degree in Communication prepares you to be successful in your career, because careers are all about skill building.
Hurley became very involved with research at UB from the start of her graduate career. “That would be my advice to new students - learn and try as many things as possible! Because you never know what you will be doing in the future, or what doors that may open.”
When she started at UB, Hurley generally was not interested in teaching. However, during her second year in the doctoral program she decided to teach one class, even though it was a lot of work, very little money, and didn't seem like it would be very fun.
“It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made - because it led to the ability for me to teach overseas, and improved my public speaking so that now I routinely lead briefings for our senior leadership, other governmental agencies, and foreign representatives visiting the US/TSA.”
“Students should participate in as many free workshops as they can given by other departments; after graduation you will still seek out those opportunities, but they won't be free!”
The benefits to such experience are numerous, Hurley says.
“You will develop teamwork, presentations, oral and written communication, and attention to detail - skills that are applicable across many fields. Seek out internships and external opportunities to learn and build your resume during your time at UB.”
“I have been able to work on some very cool projects; both starting when I was at UB and after I have left.”
Hurley is currently a program analyst for TSA's behavior detection program titled Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT). Although she has her hands in many projects, she focuses on providing the program with scientific advisement and designing pilot tests for new training and uses of behavior detection in airports.
Hurley became involved with security related behavior detection work through her advisor, Professor Mark Frank. She says it is a very interesting field, but you have to know the right people to get into the club.
“My advisor helped with that. I began by shadowing and networking at some of his workshops, and it wasn't long before I was building my own reputation. During my graduate career I was able to work as a consultant to the State Department, and assisted in the revamping of one of their training courses in analytic interviewing.”
At TSA, Hurley worked with colleagues abroad to develop frameworks for international behavior detection programs.
“UB not only provided my training, but also opened my eyes to career possibilities that I had not known of before getting into this program.”