My debut in the professional academic field

By Su-Yeon Cho, master’s student in journalism and mass communication

Even before joining the Greenlee School’s master’s program I knew wanted to continue my studies and get a Ph.D. Now in my last semester at Greenlee, I am in the process of choosing what that next step in my career would be. I’m really excited to have received admission from several of the universities where I have applied to Ph.D. programs. I would like to share how I prepared for applying to a doctoral program and offer some tips to other graduate students who might want to pursue doctoral studies. If you are thinking about applying to a top Ph.D. program in our field, you already know that a high GPA, strong GRE scores and a well-structured SOP (Statement of Purpose) and CV are important. For international students like me, the TOEFL score is important as well.

Besides these standard requirements, I wondered what else was needed to make me stand out. I started asking what else I could do by myself to make my application stronger. I’m an international student interested in global brands and advertising in social media. I already had experience writing academic papers since I already have a master’s degree from South Korea. Thus, I challenged myself to submit a research paper to a conference during my first year at Greenlee. Before beginning graduate school, it seemed too challenging to submit and present an original paper at a conference. I was not even sure I could finish and submit all my class papers while preparing a conference paper.

Whenever I had doubts about my abilities, I consulted with the professors in the Greenlee School and they encouraged me to keep going. This gave me a lot of confidence.

Finally, I was able to submit a research paper to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), which is a major organization for academics in the field. My paper was accepted last summer, and I participated in the 100th AEJMC Conference in Chicago in August 2017.

My paper investigated global brands’ Facebook message strategies and user responses by looking at cultural differences in message strategy and user responses between the U.S. and South Korea. It was a fantastic debut in the professional academic field. I was able to meet a variety of people engaged in my field of study, and I was able to see their diverse research areas and experience first-hand at an academic conference thanks to the support of the Greenlee School’s master’s program.

My conference paper started from a small idea developed in in-class assignments during the first semester. But I did not abandon my small idea. I developed it further with the help of our wonderful graduate faculty. Now, it has made me a stronger applicant for Ph.D. programs I have applied to. Things that made me worried and afraid before beginning graduate school – such as the thesis, applying to Ph.D. programs and submitting a paper to a conference – have been accomplished during my time here.

Although I haven’t made my final choice, my next step after graduation from Iowa State is to begin my life as a doctoral student at a top program in our field. I have no doubt that the training and experience in the Greenlee School will be of great help to me in my future doctoral studies.

Learn more about Greenlee’s master’s program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.